Tulane nightlife leaves behind queer women

Lauren Lehmann, Contributing Writer

Lauren is the president of the Feminist Alliance of Students at Tulane and part of the LGBT community.

Nightlife is a central pillar of Tulane student life, and how could it not be? Situated in a city known for round-the-clock partying and a rich mixture of cultures, Tulane attracts students who are excited about the prospect of Uptown college bars and close proximity to the action of downtown New Orleans. Queer students are similarly drawn to the idea of a college social scene in an LGBTQ-friendly city in the South but are often quickly disillusioned after experiencing the heteronormative nightlife scene at Tulane. 

Without any gay bars in the Uptown area, LGBTQ students, especially queer women, who hope to take part in nightlife have few options outside of patronizing popular student bars. These bars include The Boot Bar and Grill, Bruno’s Tavern, TJ Quills, Redd’s Uptilly Tavern and dive bar Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge, all of which are within walking distance from Tulane and are frequented by students. Some even let in students aged over 18. There is not a single bar popular with students, however, that markets itself as a gay bar. 

When taking part in nightlife at popular student bars, queer students run the risk of receiving unwanted attention through stares, photos and harassment. Lesbian relationships are highly sexualized by the heterosexual male gaze, and for queer women, a typical Tulane student activity of going to The Boot can turn into a dangerous and even traumatizing event. 

Ashley Chen | Production Manager

While the Tulane nightlife scene is consumed with the heteronormative college hookup culture, it is sorely lacking in space for queer women. Heterosexual, white, able-bodied students are prioritized in this framework, and many are left out of the equation.

LGBTQ events in the city as a whole also are not typically marketed toward students, and most take place downtown late at night. The most popular and exclusively LGBTQ venues typically have a “club” atmosphere and cater specifically to gay men, like one of the most well known gay clubs, Oz. For queer, female-identifying students, there are almost no options. 

This absence of a safe space for queer students to take part in college nightlife is exacerbated for queer women, as there is not a single lesbian bar in the entire city. One up-and-coming option, GrrlSpot, is an pop-up style event that creates spaces for queer women, but these events occur just once a month and move locations around New Orleans. 

Other Uptown venues have marketed to a queer crowd for specific events, but the lack of a consistent queer nightlife space in walking distance from Tulane, or even in the Uptown area, puts queer students at risk without a nightlife scene that they feel safe in. 

One can hope that an entreupreneurial queer woman will take the leap to fill the vacuum of an LGBTQ bar in uptown New Orleans, but this may not happen anytime soon. Many queer students go to college excited about newfound freedom to explore their sexuality for the first time through LGBTQ nightlife. For now, New Orleans falls short in providing the spaces for queer women to do so.