left: screenshot from lexi stout tiktok; middle: cubbyhole bar front; right: screenshot from katie pypes tiktok
TikToks about a conflict at a lesbian bar have sparked discussion over whether straight people should be in those spaces. Credit: Left: @thelexistout on TikTok; Middle: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Right: @im.that.lesbian on TikTok

Recently, Queer New York TikTok was abuzz over an incident at Cubbyhole, a renowned lesbian bar in Manhattan. An altercation involving straight individuals and a lesbian has ignited a debate on inclusivity in queer spaces.

Like many personal conflicts aired on social media, the situation unfolded through videos shared by the involved parties. Lexi Stout, a straight woman active on TikTok, recounted her visit to Cubbyhole with a lesbian friend and a straight male companion. In a video posted in late January, Stout narrated an encounter where a lesbian patron questioned the male friend’s presence at the bar.

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Stout expressed discomfort as a straight woman in a predominantly lesbian environment, particularly with the presence of gay men at Cubbyhole. Her video titled “My First Lesbian Bar” attracted over a million views and 8,000 comments.

In early February, Katie Pypes, the aforementioned stranger, responded to Stout’s video. Pypes clarified that she confronted the straight man due to his behavior, specifically blocking the bathroom and displaying unfriendliness. Pypes stated her preference for bars like Cubbyhole to avoid unwanted interactions with straight individuals.

Pypes emphasized the importance of maintaining queer spaces such as Cubbyhole, Henrietta Hudson, and the Stonewall Inn for lesbians and queer women to feel safe and respected.

“You should keep in mind that there are very limited spaces especially for lesbians and queer women where we can feel safe.”

Pypes stressed the need for respect when entering queer spaces, highlighting the scarcity of safe havens dedicated to lesbians and queer women. She also mentioned the efforts of the Lesbian Bar Project in supporting and promoting lesbian-focused establishments. Pypes’s response video garnered nearly four million views and 10,000 comments.

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Stout and Pypes’ accounts have swayed public opinion in favor of Pypes, given the diminishing number of spaces exclusively catering to queer women as highlighted by Pypes. In the U.S., the count of lesbian bars has significantly dropped from approximately 200 in 1980 to under 30 at present.

There were around 200 lesbian bars in the U.S. in 1980; now there are fewer than 30.

Stout’s video provokes questions on the motives of straight individuals seeking entry into queer spaces. Is it for the ambiance, curiosity, or to avoid unwanted attention from heterosexual males? While there are no strict rules barring straight individuals from gay bars, queer spaces primarily exist to offer solidarity and security to the LGBTQ+ community.

Pypes stresses the importance of acknowledging and preserving safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. She calls for a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by queer women, given incidents akin to hers occurring frequently.

Pypes’ experience sheds light on the intrusion of straight individuals into queer spaces, undermining the core purpose of these venues as sanctuaries for the LGBTQ+ community.

Stout mentioned that her straight male friend opted not to revisit the lesbian bar following the discord, possibly signaling a step toward safeguarding the sanctity of such safe spaces.

UPDATE: Feb. 12, 2024, 5:32 p.m. EST This article has been updated to add a comment from Katie Pypes.

Topics LGBTQ TikTok

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Anna Iovine
Associate Editor, Features

Anna Iovine is associate editor of features at Mashable. Previously, as the sex and relationships reporter, she covered topics ranging from dating apps to pelvic pain. Before Mashable, Anna was a social editor at VICE and freelanced for publications such as Slate and the Columbia Journalism Review. Follow her on X @annaroseiovine.


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