Queer-only spaces - article for Slate

9 messages

Dana Sitar <vaginas@danasitar.com>, Sun, Nov 5, 2017 at 1:18 PM

To: S Akawa

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for agreeing to share your thoughts about queer-only spaces for my piece at Slate! Can you briefly answer the questions below? Feel free to follow up if you have any additional questions or need clarification.




S Akawa, Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 2:11 PM

To: Dana Sitar <vaginas@danasitar.com>

Hi Dana!

Thanks for sending these.

1 - We started hosting queer-focused events as Queer Pressure because the options for nightlife here in Madison, WI were always full of straight people,  'gay bars' were often only employing gay men and seemed to only tolerate lesbians, had specifically transphobic policies (such as bathroom policing, [in which security would kick trans people out of the "wrong" bathroom and sometimes out of the club entirely]), often had racist policies (such as not allowing hip-hop music to be plaid, not allowing hankies, not allowing hats),  and more.  Basically I wanted to create a space that I wanted to go to, that was representative of myself and my queer friends, that played the music we actually listen to, and that stood for more than this homo-normative style of nightlife we so often see in gay bars. Additionally - we started Queer Pressure as a way to expect more out of our community, we want a place where we can be explicitly political in the choices we make, the artists / venues we support, and to push the rest of the community to do better.

2 - Queer Pressure's queer-only-spaces are so important because we need places in which we can actually relax and be in community with each other.  In these spaces the idea is that you can get a break from needing to be vigilant about the people around you, that you won't get stupid questions like "who's the guy in the relationship", and, very importantly, so that we can curate our own beautiful queer utopia, even if it’s just for a night.

3- The only time we have had to turn away non-queer-identifying people is if the venue is  open for regular business hours or if they say have two events spaces under the same building. Since we 1- occasionally have events that are open to friends and allies and 2- keep our queer only events under wraps and don't 'market' them to the public we don't run into this issue as much as one would think. Additionally - we do not do any policing of people that enter our spaces - we make sure that at the door and on any invites it is explicitly clear that it is for Queer Identifying People Only and people self select and respect that. The only thing that has come up once or twice is someone sees someone they know from the "outside world" at a Queer Pressure event and questions to me or another organizer if the person is queer, in that case we have gently reached out the the 'person in question' and it turns out they are in fact queer and not out at work or school.  Its important in these situations that all parties know they are valued in our community and that they are welcome, even if they cannot be out in the general public. Again, this is why these queer only spaces are so important.

4- bi+ people are under the queer umbrella and they are welcome and embraced at Queer Pressure. The only thing to say about this topic is that for example a bi-identifying man wants to come to a queer-only Queer Pressure event and his partner identifies as straight, that partner may not attend as it is a queer-only event. An exception to this rule is in the situation of necessity, for example, a disAbled person has a caretaker who is straight identifying, that caretaker may attend with the queer person.  

Let me know if you need anything else and thank you so much for including us! We can send logos/promo pics or whatever else you may need.

Our socials to include:


Web: www.queerpressurecollective.com

My FB: Sarah Akawa

Other co founder: DJ Boyfrrriend

Thanks again!

Sarah Akawa

Dana Sitar <vaginas@danasitar.com>, Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 4:13 PM

To: S Akawa

Thanks for this, Sarah! I appreciate your time on this :)

My only Q now: What are your pronouns?

I’ll reach out if I have other questions as I work on the piece.



S Akawa, Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 4:41 PM

To: Dana Sitar <vaginas@danasitar.com>

They/them please!!

Dana Sitar <vaginas@danasitar.com>, Sun, Nov 12, 2017 at 2:32 PM

To: S Akawa

Hi Sarah,
One more follow up -- I'm focusing this piece on the experience of bi+ people with straight partners feeling unwelcome in queer spaces that don't welcome our partners. Do you have any comment on that regarding Queer Pressure's policy for queer-only events?

Thanks again! I appreciate you being part of this important conversation.


S Akawa, Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 11:31 AM

Dana Sitar <vaginas@danasitar.com>

Hi Dana!

I DOOO! thanks for letting me know the angle, so I can elaborate more.

Sorry for the very long response but here it goes:

We have been doing Queer Pressure since 2014 and many if not most of our events are open to queers and their closest allies/friends.  We do more than just "queer dance parties", including panels/discussions and art galleries - events which are, as mentioned above, open to queers and their closest allies/friends (including straight identifying partners!) Its important to note that Queer Pressure is not a fixed entity, I find it imperative to be open for questions/feedback and available to people who attend (and therefore create) QP.  If the attendees of Queer Pressure did not want any queer-identifying-only events in favor of all events being open to queer + partners/friends/allies then that is what Queer Pressure would become, however, feedback I usually get from those comfortable enough to reach out is that the queer-only events are super special to people.

When we do choose to hold events labeled as "queer only" we use this language or something similar - '"I am straight & cis, can I come?" - the gym is "open" otherwise. but you may come hang with queer pressure if a queer person needs you to come as emotional or physical support. but we prefer for this event to be a closed, queer & trans* only event.'.

Something I ought to mention as well is that though the term "queer" can mean many things for many people at this point, we use the term "queer" as an umbrella term which includes bisexual identifying folks.

Lastly, I feel the discussion about bisexual people's straight-identifying partners attending intentional queer spaces is not unlike the discussion about white people wanting to attend intentional spaces for people of color. I am an multi-racial Asian American queer person, I host and attend intentional separate spaces for queer people of color which is not open to white queer people, including my awesome partner.  For me, there is a huge value in being in these intentional separate spaces for marginalized people to be in community with each other, specifically without the presence of someone who does not have a shared lived experience.  I don't see these intentional QPOC spaces as being unwelcoming to me because I'm a queer-person-of-color dating a white-queer-person.

Hope that answers some of your questions and of course don't hesitate to reach out again.


(Emphasis mine)