Claire Kunzier, Editor
The landmark LGBTQ+ establishment, Woody’s, is a go to place for many in the Philadelphia party scene. I have heard much praise for the bar from many, but I have also heard from several members of the community that the increasing popularity is making the scene feel “straight.” For 38 years, queer people have used Woody’s as a place to feel safe for their own expression, as well as to find people who have similar personal experiences and opinions. Now that it is a popular destination among both gay and straight groups, the bars tone is being affected.
I went to Woody’s for the first time and it was something.
I didn’t know what to expect, but it had big frat energy to me for several reasons. One, the music mixed with the darkness, mixed with all the grinding was the closest I felt to the fall of 2018, 1801, energy. Two, the number of heterosexual makeouts I witnessed was astonishing to see so many and again, I have not seen this in such a high quantity since my time as a freshman in frats. It is bold of me to assume the sexuality of both parties involved and either could be a member of the alphabet mafia, but because you just don’t know it is easy to assume based on societal norms. Honestly, it’s not the fact that heterosexual relationships were happening, it’s the fact that they were much more common than homosexual relationships in the LGBTQ+ establishment. Everywhere I turned, I was faced with an assumed member of the male sex sucking the life out of an assumed member of the female sex. If you looked hard enough, you could see assumed same sex couples engaging in relations. Third, the “dance floor” was just a grinding fest that reminded me of feral freshmen during September, scary. You may be thinking “Claire, you loved frats before the pandemic. What’s the issue with Woody’s feeling that way?” Honestly, it is a bit of a turn off simply because I am over the scene and have matured beyond the hormone fueled parties. Also, the “frat energy” to me is very heterosexual and gives me, personally, negative vibes for the LGBTQ+ community and is the opposite of what I would equate with a safe queer environment.
I am in no way insinuating that heterosexual people should not be allowed in the establishment, it is truly a fun time, but pointing out that they’re affecting the culture of the bar. The judgment felt by those looking for a same sex partner should not be felt within Woody’s, but sadly it is. Obviously, creeping and lurking by anyone is not okay, but simply showing interest for a member of the same sex should feel less judged in a bar targeted to LGBTQ+ members. If you’re going to a gay bar, in the gayborhood, you should be aware that you will be assumed to be queer in some way. It is not a frat or a regular bar/club with hetero-normative standards, it is a gay bar with homo-normative standards, meaning people are gay and looking for other gays to do gay things with. So don’t treat people poorly when they assume you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a LGBTQ+ establishment.
That being said, if someone doesn’t respect your sexual preference after it is disclosed and they’re still trying to start something, call their ass out. No one is allowed to make unwanted sexual advances and your sexuality should be respected by all, even if you “look the part” of a sexuality’s sterotype. But if you are straight and make eye contact or bump into someone, don’t look at them in disgust to nonverbally show your disinterest, just be polite and disclose your lack of interest. To put it simply, you are making people feel negatively about themselves in a place that’s supposed to be a safe space to express their sexuality is not cool. It’s so common everywhere else to face backlash simply because you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, don’t come into Woody’s, a known gay estbalishment, and be borderline homophobic. If you truly don’t want to be hit on by a queer person, do not go to a place that is allows all people to express themselves and indulge in their sexual preferences.
The only thing Woody’s can do to better the environment of the bar is to be less frat by playing better music. People want to hear non-typical bar, frat and club music, the girls and the gays should be catered to by the DJs, the bad mumble rap and mixes can be left off the queue. Truthfully, to better the atmosphere it is the party goers that need to change and adapt to the culture. All are welcome, but if you are going to a gay bar as straight person strictly to look for straight hookups, check yourself. The girls and the gays have lived in harmony for so long and that peace is threatened by those looking to use and abuse places like Woody’s for their own personal gain. (AKA, guys who are looking for the straight girl friends that accompany their gay friends to the bar, as well as other straight-subgroups that are currently less prominent). Before going to any bar, gay or straight, think about the culture and be sure to respect the atmosphere that is meant to be safe. Take your negativity and go. Also, take the rising crime within the bar with you, a real vibe killer.