Queer Dance Party Ships in the Night to Straights: "Don't Come"

Categories: Angry People, LGBT
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On February 15, Oakland-based queer dance party, Ships in the Night, posted this on its Facebook page:

"if you are *cis* straight & thinking of coming to Ships In The Night, please consider that you are taking the place of a queer person. ‪#‎realtalk‬ ‪#‎takingupspace"‬

And right below that:

"we stand by this sentiment. if you disagree, please find another party. #everyotherpartyisforstraightpeople #realtalk #takingupspace"

The controversial post has garnered over 268 comments (as of this writing), almost all of them heated. Pro-separatist commenters wrote things like:

"Thank you for this!!!!! My group of queers didn't get in last time."

"So many cis straight tears. Life must be so hard with all that privilege."

And "...sometimes being an 'ally' means getting the fuck out of the way and making room for those who you claim to support."

Pro-inclusion commenters pointed out that for an event which purports to promote community and equality, telling allies and whites to go elsewhere isn't the greatest solution:

"I would echo the sentiment that having a space be welcoming to all is big. Before I had any sort of queer community, it was my cis straight best friend that went out with me as I got my first tastes of the homofabulous nightlife scene."

"...for myself and my partner who are both QWOC this was EXTREMELY DISHEARTENING and evocative of homophobia and racism that we frequently experience and expect in the outside, everyday world."

And "Queer has always been about inclusivity. It's what makes these nights so much better than a strictly 'gay' or 'lesbian' night. It's a beautiful, loving, warm, INVITING community."

shipsfbpost.jpg

Fans of the dance party who were upset over the post responded by making a Change.org petition asking Ships to apologize and recant and by creating a humorous counter-party boycott at TGIFriday's. The outcry also prompted a much lengthier defense from Ships organizers on their blog. Here's a snippet:

This past year the Ships crew and patrons have been experiencing the changes and shifts that gentrification (among other factors) have had on our communities and events. Gentrification in the Bay Area has influenced the queer community and we can all see it in the crowd at the party. We have noticed an increasing amount of white faces, a lot less of Black and Brown queers, more *cis* straight-identified people coming to the queer dance party; specifically many of our Old Oakland crew and friends are not attending the party. There is also an overall vibe of individual needs being more important than the community's needs and a lack of cognizance of personal space and spatial entitlement. We have had a lot more incidences of people getting overly intoxicated alone, people being pushy at the bar trying to buy a drink, people elbowing their way to the dance floor to claim their spot, constant microaggressions, etc. 

The post doesn't specify who is responsible for all the "spatial entitlement," getting drunk alone, and elbowing, but it implies that these are examples of Straight Whites Behaving Badly and not the more likely culprit: Drunks Behaving Badly. Ships continues:

... If you are a white person (of any gender, sexuality, identity) not directly connected to a network of accountability around your own whiteness, please consider that you may be taking the place of QTPOC and white queers who are doing the work and would, with a shift in dynamics, otherwise like to attend Ships.

As a half-white queer, we guess we are half welcome. It's true that Ships does have a space issue, however. It takes place at The New Parish, which is roughly the size of a breadbox. And like every popular Bay Area queer dance party, long lines abound, many give up or don't get in, and those who do get in face a packed space and still more agonizing lines at the bathroom and bar. Instead of addressing these legitimate concerns -- by, say, switching to a bigger venue, hosting more frequently than once a month, ramping up security for those who feel unsafe, etc. -- Ships organizers, half of whom are white, instead chose to issue a hostile proclamation based on blanket race and identity assumptions in the guise of political uprightness.

Of course, Ships can't actually control the race and sexuality of those admitted to the party. We'd like to see that screening process: "ID please. Great, thanks. Now are you directly connected to a network of accountability around your own whiteness? Fantastic. If you'll just write up a 3,000-word essay proving how you curtail the dominant paradigms of heteronormative hegemony, we'll let you right in."

"Hi, are you 'doing the work'? If not, I'll have to ask you to leave. The queer person of color behind you does the work by virtue of genetics and a history of lived oppression."

"Is that a Sylvia Plath tattoo on your arm? Please check your white privilege along with your peacoat inside."

Since Ships can't enforce their own racial and political ideals, they are asking patrons to police themselves and any straight/white friends they might want to dance with, a tactic that is only going to alienate and isolate people further. There is no singular enemy at play here, but it's far easier to demonize ALL the straight/white people than it is to look closely at individual behaviors and how we treat others. To bastardize Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous quote: It's not the color of one's skin or who one wants to see naked, but the "content of one's character."

We're also gonna throw it out there that some of the straights Ships organizers have noticed "infiltrating" the party might actually not be straight. Many feminine-looking queer women read as straight, and many non-flamboyant queer men read that way too. Unless Ships is taking detailed histories of their patron's genital exploits, no one can be certain who is straight. But that's not really the point.

Despite the supposed inclusivity of the LGBTQQIA community -- as evidenced by the ever-expanding acronym -- queers have a long and sordid history of policing and excluding each other's sexualities, identities, and politics. "Can't we all just get along?" is not a strategy oft-embraced by queer political correctness. Perhaps the most obvious example is how fractioned Pride has become. Lesbians thought gay men were taking over and started Dyke March. Trans people felt marginalized by both groups and started their own march, too. Queers of all stripes thought too many straights were in attendance, and boycotted the whole ordeal. And bisexuals continued to be ignored by everyone in the sexual spectrum and are day-drinking alone somewhere as we speak.

The strangest part of this whole debacle is that it is somehow being packaged as NOT prejudice or discrimination, even though discrimination is defined as "the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people." Ships is hawking the same kind of prejudice and discrimination historically leveraged against queers and minorities, without the faintest hint of irony.

Like, we get that some partygoers don't want to twerk with 1,000 Justin Biebers, and that's fine, but recognize that preferential treatment for one group over another and crying "straight privilege" is a similar move to the homophobic bakers denying gay couples cakes and crying "religious persecution." Exclusion, in-fighting, and claiming that one kind of prejudice is okay out of "political righteousness" aren't viable solutions to Ships' problems, and we think it's especially sad in the context of who gets to booty-bounce while drinking overpriced Miller High Lifes.

If you'd like to make your piece, Ships invites people to come to a forum they are attending to hash out some of these issues at the Bay Area Queers Talking Race Community Forum (QTR) on Saturday, March 9, 2pm, at 3405 Piedmont Ave., in Oakland.

Clarification: The folks at QTR would like you to know that the forum was not created to air Ships concerns, but since Ships organizers are collaborating with QTR for this forum, some of the issues mentioned in this article will be discussed. More information can be found on their Facebook event page. They also claim the time and location of the forum might change.

Follow @annapulley on Twitter. She'll tweet you right.


My Voice Nation Help
80 comments
pchas
pchas

Let the butthurt begin!

cannkirkland
cannkirkland

What would happen if certain bakeries had signs that said, "if you want a cake for a same sex wedding,  sorry, but we only have the time and space to bake wedding cakes for our straight friends." Isn't this the same thing?? The only difference is Ships isn't getting death threats or being taken to court.  In reality, the LGBT community is going to have to get used to integrating straight people into their clubs if they want fairness all around.  If not, you just might find yourself in court one day.  Can't have your cake and eat it too!

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Heterophobia exists!  Don't worry, I'll let you know what drinking fountain I use.  


marcos
marcos

"not directly connected to a network of accountability around your own whiteness"

And who holds the networks of accoutability accountable when they run off of the rails and do not connect with the communities they purport to speak for?

These unworthy heirs to Stonewall, Compton's and the Civil Rights Movement would have curled up into balls under the table if they had to deal with the resistance that previous generations overcame.  Why is it that the demonstrable incidence of racism, sexism and homophobia is orders of magnitude less than during those substantive struggles, even of those of us who grew up in the wake of those struggles, yet today's youth labor under the misapprehension that things have gotten worse?


Suck it up and deal with it, walk in power, don't cower.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

"if you are *cis* minority & thinking of coming to Ships In The Night, please consider that you are taking the place of a white person. ‪#‎realtalk‬ ‪#‎takingupspace"‬ 


Replace "straight" with "minority" and "queer" with "white" and see if it seems discriminatory then.


Discrimination is alive and well in the community.


Stop the hate.


whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Discrimination against straight people is still discrimination.  


To:  Ships In The NIght


Your statement is clearly bigoted.  How can you ask for acceptance and openness while discriminating against those you are asking for acceptance from?


#hypocrite

#stopthehate

rhodiumcobalt
rhodiumcobalt

I have been attending ships in the night since 2007 and I never once recall seeing the party advertised as a space for QTPOC. I only ever remember the flyers saying, "Queer Dance Party!"

aliasetc
aliasetc topcommenter

I thank god every day that I'm white straight born in the USA.

boielectro
boielectro

I think a lot of folks (and the author of this article) are misinterpreting Ships' statement. All they asked for was self-reflection, awareness, and consideration of whatever various set of privileges you possess and how that might impact other people at a party originally centered on QTPOC folks/community. And honestly, a moment of reflection and intentionality isn't much compared to a lifetime of microaggressions or downright aggression and systemic oppression that white, straight, cis people will never experience. White people, straight people, cis people are all reacting incredibly, hyperbolically defensively. 


Reverse racism / reverse discrimination does not exist. Sure, there are POCs that hate white people (with good reason) and queers that would prefer not to be in the company of straight folks, but there is no systemic, institutionalized backing for this dislike. Racism, transphobia, and queerphobia is in the very fabric of our institutions, is supported by our entire social, political and economic system. You can't compare the two. And it's important to note that reverse racism is an idea that supports white supremacy.


The "can't we all just get along" philosophy only benefits those in the dominant majority - white people, cis people, straight people. Does this philosophy help the QTPOC population that has voiced concerns about how white Ships has become? Or queers upset about aggressive straight cis-dudes at parties? "Can't we all just get along" is a philosophy that supports white supremacy, hetero and cis privilege, so that white, straight, cis people can have a good time at the expense of marginalized folks without having to think for longer than two seconds about their role or entitlement to take up space at a QTPOC-centred party. 


Ships is a radical queer party created by intentional folks. If you want to go to a party rife with cultural appropriation, colorblindness, neo-liberal politics, a mix of straight and queer folks, a "Can't we all just get along" attitude, there are tons, TONS of those. I don't think it's too much to ask for people to reflect on what their role, presence, and entitlement to a space is, especially after QTPOC have brought their struggle and concerns to the table. This is a learning opportunity, people, and an opportunity to show what real allies do, which the #1 tenet of allyship is listening to the people that you are supposedly an ally to. 


Oh and "queer" does not mean inclusive. It means queer, by the way. 



yesyesready
yesyesready

I think it is incredibly irresponsible for you to air this out in a regional weekly. Do you realize that queer women have already been violently targeted by homophobes while walking to or from this party? Your journalistic opportunism is getting in the way of your decency here. Way to give people who hate queers even more fodder.

lauragilliansmith
lauragilliansmith

One of the great privileges of being a straight white person is that we don't have to actively work to create space for ourselves.  It's everywhere.  It's default.  We've never had to feel what it's like to be implicitly excluded from a group.  And because it's the default, white straight people don't notice that we are free to move about wherever we want to, and can't begin to empathize with those who don't feel so free. 


Hence the need for explicitly queer/POC spaces.  The really sad thing is that the organizers of Ships in the Night even have to make this request. 

sfdavidkaye3
sfdavidkaye3

And we care WHY?  It's just a dumb dance party; it's not the end of anyone's world.  Jeezzz..the idle rich have nothing more important to think about...

Lo Bénichou
Lo Bénichou

Ships never said that cis-straight people weren't "allowed". They said, check yourself and your privilege then decide accordingly. That is all.

BAQTR
BAQTR

Anna, you are still misrepresenting our event after much emailing. This event will not be to discuss "some of the issues mentioned in this article," but specifically how to address racism and anti-blackness in the queer scene. Straight allies and your issues with Ships in the Night are not on the agenda. We also asked you to take our event info down repeatedly because we want to do our own advertising with our own description of the event, but you refused. We are not sure why you are blatantly disregarding our wish to self-define and advertise on our own. 

BAQTR
BAQTR

Anna! I am an organizer for Bay Area QTR. Our forum you are falsely advertising IS NOT for discussing this topic. It is an anti-oppression forum on related topics that received support from Ships in the Night, but IS NOT about Ships in The Night. People should not come to our forum to "hash out" the issue you discussed in your article. Next time please do more research and please take us out of your blog post. 

John LaForgia
John LaForgia

As for the actual topic? Well, I don't care if I'm not allowed (wasn't even a distant thought, not a dance cruise kinda guy), but anyone with half a brain has got to question the wisdom and logic of selecting and stating that certain races of lgbt be self disallowed from a party directed specifically towards the lgbt community.

John LaForgia
John LaForgia

...still don't get why gentrification is so hard for people to get. Gentrification is not synonymous with 'white people moving in', it's more about white collar moving into a blue collar neighborhood...why is it so hard for people to understand that distinction, even somewhat supposedly intelligent people as these. If your going to use the term as an excuse, use it correctly.

Antonia Fish
Antonia Fish

As a queer woman, I am incredibly embarrassed over this bullshit. We strive for equality and then pull this?!?! I'm embarrassed beyond relief. Way to discriminate and be hypocrites.

Angie Fish
Angie Fish

Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. A 'straight bar' in the Bay Area, of all places, publicly proclaiming that Lesbians are not welcome would and should be boycotted. Anyone who wishes to be treated as an equal member of the human race has no business discriminating against or excluding anyone based something as ridiculous as sexual preference. Hypocrites.

Fred Rinne
Fred Rinne

I'm straight and am okay about this. I like a mixed gay/straight in the dance clubs, but don't want to step on their scene either.

Paradise Smiley
Paradise Smiley

I support Ships in their request for straight, white folks to check their privileges and recognize what kind of space their encroaching upon. Yes it may seem like a double standard, but there are few places queers can go and be surrounded by other queers. And when we go out and want to party we want to go somewhere that we know is occupied by other queers. WE have to make that kind of space for ourselves, because those kinds of spaces don't exist on their own. Ya'll straights have the other 99.999% of bars and venues to party. And as far as the gross gropey guys go...the girls in straight bars dont want 'em, why the hell would we queers want 'em.

Jorge Hernandez
Jorge Hernandez

Doesn't sound like much of a party, signed a big fag raised by dykes.

Anne-Marie Dumaresq
Anne-Marie Dumaresq

I'm a married heterosexual, white (NOT privileged b/c if I was, I'd be moving to the Castro so fast, it would make your head spin.) woman who LOVES being in the Castro! What a beautiful, all-embracing, all-accepting vibe the community gives off - more so than any other neighbourhood. And it never fails, I am always complimented on something and made to feel very pretty. I don't want to encroach on anybody's space, but this stings. Feels a bit like discrimination to me.

John P. Beatty
John P. Beatty

lol @ straight white privileged people thinking they can be discriminated against

Jon Thirlby
Jon Thirlby

The question at the top said 'what do you think about this'?, well, what I think is that it's sad that in this day and age people still define themselves and each other based on their sexuality, sex, race, blah,blah. I hope one day a person will be a person is a person, not a gay person, not a white person etc and segregationist attitudes will be a distant bad memory

Christraper Sings
Christraper Sings

Simonetti, yr tone-deaf, oblivious. This is not about the time you went to a straight bar and everyone was nice to you. And just because someone was nice to you at straight bar that one time, doesn't mean that LGBT people are not oppressed people. Some people aren't feeling it the way you are, or... they don't want the cool queer space they created invaded by straight creepers who don't contribute, which is an ACTUAL problem. See: Castro Street Fair.

Christian Simonetti
Christian Simonetti

@Jim, I've gone to straight bars,been totally accepted and even introduced to other gay men there. A couple times we've held hands or even kissed and no one's said boo to us, apart from telling us we looked cute together. I also remember a few years back that there was a "queer" group ("LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!!!) that would "invade" straight bars for kiss-ins, and I'm unaware of their ever having encounted violence, even though their actions were purely for the sake of mindless provocation. It seems to me that some people are simply desperate for attention, be it of the positive or negative variety, and will do whatever it takes to attract it, but are not prepared for the consequences. DULLSVILLE.

Jamie Rein
Jamie Rein

This sounds similar to the proposed anti-gay discrimination legislation in Kansas. I am a homo who has no reason to trust anyone who uses the anti-LGBT hate term 'queer'.

Christian Simonetti
Christian Simonetti

@Rod, since whites are now a minority in California, i guess you're cool with whites only spaces then, right?

Rod-Rod Fraser
Rod-Rod Fraser

I'm somebody who likes to party with a diverse crowd, so Ship's move feels exclusionary, however, some people have made some very good points in the comments here. I think minorities (sexual and racial) have a right to their own spaces. The "Halloween in the Castro" comment really got me. Queers made that event. It was great fun for a while. Straights were welcomed with open arms, they took from the event without contributing much to it, then they destroyed it. But, I think this is less about gay/straight/brown/white and more about the general attitude of "gimme-gimme-gimme" that virtually anybody can have. It's this anti-community attitude of going somewhere and having the entitled attitude of expecting entertainment to happen to you, sitting passively like a couch potato expecting the party to whisk you away... when really what you should be doing is to take some responsibility realize that you ARE the entertainment, you are what makes the party good or bad, and to actually engage with others like they are your community instead of warm flesh bags that are blocking your access to the bar so you can get another beer. As far as the microagressions mentioned (i.e. elbowing people on the dancefloor). It is up to the community to educate people who are being an asshole. If someone tries to shove through my dancing spot. I stop them, and with a smile on my face tell them; "You don't need to shove." As for me, I dance to House Music, I live it, and I believe in it. Ship's move is against all the messages of love and inclusiveness I hear in House lyrics and feel on most House dance floors. If Ship wants to have their own exclusionary party, I think they should go for it. But with that attitude, it doesn't sound like a party I would enjoy.

Eric Carlson
Eric Carlson

"Ships organizers, half of whom are white, instead chose to issue a hostile proclamation based on blanket race and identity assumptions in the guise of political uprightness." says the blog......

Jim Piechota
Jim Piechota

Call it my own issue, I don't care. It just baffles me why straight people find it so amusing to invade a gay club like there's no other place to go in this huge city filled with bars and clubs that cater to them specifically. Then, once inside, they proceed to cat-call the drag performers or grope the male dancers and be loud and inappropriate. I'm just tired of the double-standard. It's fine for them to make out, get pushy, loud, grind in the bathroom stalls, but I wouldn't be allowed to do the same in a straight club, no how, no way. I'd be 86'd with a black eye. Find your own party.

Christian Simonetti
Christian Simonetti

F**king ludicrous. Drop the apartheid thinking. "My group of queers didn't get in." Get there earlier Mary. So tired of the heterophobia that permeates the gay "community." And of all straights being lumped together as inveterate homophobes that enjoy "privilege." Whining is tired.

Rob Blomberg
Rob Blomberg

Oh, my my... How outraged people become when the shoe's on the other foot and it isn't gay peeps being refused a wedding cake or being told to get out of a cab on the side of a highway... Doesn't feel very good, now does it?

Troy Chance Graves
Troy Chance Graves

seems like it would be more fun and fitting to allow straight people on the condition that they must be able to pass as queer and must demonstrate it in creative ways if challenged.

Rgya Dkar Po
Rgya Dkar Po

Not worried. Never did like the idea of attending a party where I wasn't welcome..........

Alan Pettit
Alan Pettit

"Now that we have everyone's attention - go away!" Bizarre.

Jim Piechota
Jim Piechota

I think it's awesome. Straight people have the rest of the city to party at, why the sudden need to populate and crowd out the gays in our own clubs. I guarantee you if I went to a straight bar in the Marina and started groping and making out with my BF, we would be aggressively asked to leave. No one asks the screechy annoying straight girls to leave the Castro. Leave our clubs and go party at your own spaces.

Mel Greene
Mel Greene

Fine if you can get away with it. Why not? Gays are denied lots of things, it's called pay back bitches.

JanetWHardy
JanetWHardy

To those who think this kind of exclusion is a good idea:

My spouse spent several years as co-chair of SF Pride, and a decade hosting the Bay Area's best queer dungeon parties. I have traveled the world teaching and writing about kink, poly and non-binary gender. However, to a casual glance, we are a heterosexual cis couple. Exactly what credentials do we need to present at the door to be "queer enough" for Ships in the Night?

Or, to put this on a less personal footing, who defines queerness? To me, a monosexual gay or lesbian who does not recognize genders between the extremes of male and female is not queer. But perhaps to you s/he is, and a male-partnered bisexual woman like me is not.

If Ships in the Night wishes to restrict its attendance to a certain type of person, it behooves them to come up with a more descriptive and easier-to-implement description than "queer."

Janet W. Hardy

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@boielectro  It is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation if it is gay or straight.  Stop the hate.


whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Because they can.  Not every white person is privileged.  

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

To think you were raised to think discrimination is okay.



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