Establishments, attitudes, and aesthetics long associated with queerdom are being systematically usurped (i.e., shamelessly ripped off) by non-gay people. Many gays and lesbians are struggling to maintain a "queer" identity in the wake of this ever-advancing straight invasion of gay neighborhoods, coffee shops, men's choruses, and cologne counters. But nowhere is the battle for that which is queer more heated, or as keenly felt, than in the venerable institution known as the Queer Club.

There are few things quite as comforting or empowering to queer folk than being surrounded by other queer folk in an atmosphere of reckless abandon--a place where we can express ourselves unmolested and unhampered by non-queer people. The very first order of business for the gay and lesbian movement was the establishment of, well, establishments: places where we could get together and socialize. Gay bars were places where specifically queer people could surround themselves with specifically queer people and do specifically queer things (dance, show affection, and, hopefully, fuck each other in the ass). A simple-enough concept, and highly effective.

Until recently.

The Breeder Invasion of queer clubs began suddenly, insidiously. One minute it was rare to see ONE confused and gawking breeder couple stumbling around a queer club. Then came the Breeder Blitzkrieg: You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting half a dozen straight guys and girls on the make; schmoozing, cruising, and making out beneath the bewildered sneers of some very unamused drag queens. And it's all been downhill ever since. One would hope that breeders who insist on frequenting (read: invading) queer clubs would be able to play nice with the queer people, but, alas, this is not often the case.

Much of breeder identity, especially for breeder men, is grounded in being actively and aggressively not queer. Many breeders express their non-queerness by reacting with disgust and sometimes violence toward queer people. And why would breeders who hold these views insist on patronizing an establishment full of people who (supposedly) disgust them, that are doing things that (supposedly) get them all riled up anyway? Espionage? Sabotage? To express repressed emotions vicariously? To assuage consciences riddled with guilt for fag jokes told in junior high? Most likely a little bit of each. But whatever the case, when a club goes "mixed," the change is almost always accompanied by trouble.

Many bars making the transition from queer to mixed experience problems with violence and verbal abuse before an acceptable ratio of tolerant breeders-to-queers can be struck. Some queer bars have had to take steps to ensure that the clientele remains largely queer; or if breeders can't be prevented from visiting, clubs have to somehow keep out the "Let's tie the fairy to the back of the pickup and go fer a drive" types. Some bars (as in the case of bars in Portland) declare themselves "private clubs," requiring memberships and sponsors to enter. Most post signs (and some even drag queens!) at club entrances to ensure that wayward breeders know exactly what they're getting themselves into.

But keeping intolerant breeders out of queer bars is not the only issue. The very presence of breeders subverts the entire raison d'être of a queer club, i.e., a place for queers where queers are surrounded by other queers doing queer things (drinking, dancing, drugs). This ticks a lot of queers off. Many are resentful, wishing that their straight brothers and sisters (god love 'em!) would just get the hell out of our bars so we can cruise. Really, when it comes to bars, all the lip service gays and lesbians spout about "tolerance and acceptance" flies right out the window.

But the breeders, as they say, are here to stay. If assimilation means we can be out in the same places they work, it means they can dance in the same places we dance. Like it or not, we have to learn to share. So will the gay bar as an institution survive our inevitable, inexorable assimilation into straight culture? No. But in the overall scheme of things, is a world without queer bars really such a terrible thing? From the perspective of blue-balled faggots eager to score without straight people hampering the process, yes. From the perspective of greedy club owners to whom money is money is money, no. From the perspective of the invading breeders... well, who gives a rat's ass what they think? All you have to know is this: They're here; they're not queer; and there's not too much we can (legally) do about it.

I guess we'll just have to get used to it.