Toronto
2 min

Boys butt in

Nasty men left a bad Pride taste in my mouth

Since Pride madness has died down I’ve been talking with organizers about the Dyke March. It seems there were more bio men than ever marching in the Saturday event, which is meant to be a women and trans-only space.

Although there’s no estimate on the exact number, reported incidents include one naked gay man who was apparently marching in protest of the depoliticization of Pride. How a gay man intruding on queer women’s space furthers his political critique remains unexplained.

Another man marching with his bi-sexual girlfriend was asked by marshals to leave the march and refused. A cop ultimately intervened. One marshal was shoved by a male spectator when she asked him to stick to the sidelines, and along the entire route men were jumping into the march to snap photos of bare breasts.

It’s not a surprise, but I thought that although misogyny in the straight world is still going strong at least the days of gay male misogyny were over. Clearly they’re not.

It was Thursday of Pride Week, and some female friends and I met to hear one of the women’s brother perform at Statlers. We sat at the bar, ordering drinks from the sweet, swishy bartender and lounging. The crowd was a smattering of women, mostly fag hags by my estimation, and a wide range of gay guys – pretty boys, jazz geeks and balding soft-bellied fags.

Partway into the evening I vacated my barstool for a short trip to the bathroom, leaving a couple friends holding the fort. When I returned, I discovered that an older, red-faced man in a cotton golf shirt had commandeered my spot.

I later learned he’d launched his intrusion with, “The women’s bar is down the road, ” and carried on with, “Are you drinking anything or just taking up space?”

As I entered the conversation he was saying, “So, she’s back. I think I’ll stay right here.” My friends and I looked at each other, stunned, as he proceeded to settle into my spot with his drink.

I typically fight when given cause, but I was feeling sick from the exchange and not at all interested in an escalation of venom on this night, on this street. Church St is my gaybourhood. I expect to feel welcome here.

With his back to me and his body barring the way, I called to my friends from over his shoulder, “Why don’t we wander?” One friend didn’t hear me. To her question, the man snidely echoed, “She said, ‘Why don’t you wander.'” If I could have seen his face, I’d bet any money there’d have been a sneer as big as the Cheshire cat’s from Alice In Wonderland and just as freaky.

On our way out we told the bouncer what had happened; I got the full story as we walked up Church St. At first my friends had thought he was joking and tried to joke back. Then they tried patiently waiting for him to get his drink and leave, until it became clear he was set on being a belligerent bully.

Should we have stayed to make a point? Would that have felt more powerful? What about lodging a complaint with the sweetie-pie bartender? Would he, or the bouncer, have intervened? Life is said to be a series of opportunities for learning but, even upon reflection, the message in this particular experience eludes me.

The combination of my own experience and the reports of men disrespecting the Dyke March have left a sour taste in my mouth. After all these years, this same old fight is wearing thin, and so is my patience.

To the obnoxious man at the bar I say, get your hatefulness out of my space. To the bio men in the march, grow up. Learn to accept that not everything in this world is about you.