Straight Girl: “I have a question.”
Straight Girl: “Is this a bar for, like, men?”
Me: “Yes. The majority of Ripcord patrons are gay men.”
Straight Girl: “Oh, that’s fine with me!”
Me: “Good, because it’s going to have to be.”
Straight Girl: “…”
Me: [single raised brow]
Straight Girl: “I understand completely.”
Now that caught me off-guard. I’m used to eyerolls and attitude when I remind the straight customers that they are stepping into a cultural minority’s safe space and therefore need to treat it respectfully. (“You’re not making me feel welcome,” one of them once shrieked at me.) Awash as I am in defensive paranoia, it never occurred to me that a heterosexual tourist might actually comprehend the situation at hand without any frustrated explanations on my part.
The straight girl dawdled around a bit more before wandering out into the bar, and later, as I was schlepping overstock across the patio to the rear entrance of the main shop, I overheard her calling a friend to say where she was. “Welp, more fool me,” I thought. “She’s a scout, and now she’s giving the all-clear to the bachelorette party that’s about to invade.” But as I headed back inside, I overheard her again, this time chatting with another Ripcord patron.
“I’m not… really attracted to guys,” she said. And immediately I was like, “QUICK, FORM A HUMAN WALL TO PROTECT THE LESBIAN SEEDLING.”
I felt like a right proper douche-nugget for making assumptions about her orientation, but hopefully she will find her tribe, if not in the leather community, then out in the greater gay world. Sadly, I’m not aware of any lesbian bars in Houston, but if she sticks around Ripcord (and if she doesn’t believe me to be an irredeemable asshat), I will do whatever I can to make sure she understands that this is her safe space too.
ETA: Nuke just pointed out that there actually is a lesbian bar in Houston, which rocks, although I’m pretty emotionally invested in this girl becoming a Ripcord regular. Maybe the other bar can have custody every other weekend or something.