While it may find its roots in activism, Vancouver’s Guerrilla Gay Bar is not meant to be a political statement.
“It is intended as a fun networking type event outside the regular gay scene”, says co-organizer Chris Ng who along with Alex Dang have started their own version of Guerrilla Gay Bar (GGB) in Vancouver.
But that doesn’t mean that the duo doesn’t recognize the politics that could be construed from an event that takes over a Vancouver “straight” bar for a night.
Last held in March when forty or so gay men descended on Malone’s Bar & Grill on West Pender, Ng and Dang are getting ready for their second takeover on Friday, May 2 at a yet undisclosed Yaletown location; a venue that will not be revealed until the morning of the event.
“It helps to keep and build some of the excitement around the event,” Ng says in keeping the location secret until the last moment.
An international phenomenon, Guerrilla Gay Bars have been popping up around the world over the last few years, all with a similar purpose: to invade spaces normally seen as straight to make a statement that the gay community is no longer willing to be ostracized within the confines of its traditional gay ghettos.
A quick check of the Guerrilla Gay Bar events that are happening around the world (a comprehensive list is available on the Queers United website), it isn’t surprising to see many of these still anchored in activism given their locations. But as Ng points out, in Canada we are lucky to live in a country that has enjoyed gay rights for many years and why activism was never the driving force behind the local event.
Realizing the connotations of its name, Ng goes as far to say that the event will eventually morph into the less confrontational sounding “gay pop-up”.
“The Vancouver Guerrilla Gay Bar is designed for those gays that are not into the local gaybourhood scene,” explains Ng. “In our first event there was a whole spectrum of gays that you wouldn’t normally see out at 1181 or Celebrities or one of the other gay bars along Davie”.
Citing the gay community’s perceived judgmental attitudes in the local bar scene, Ng and Dang are hoping that GGB becomes more about having fun and less being worried about what others think.