I want to go to more queer spaces, especially the nightlife events. I want to attend Pride and its festivities. I want to belong to a queer community near me that I can feel totally safe around and talk about nearly anything with. I want to be able to enjoy myself in queer events. However, there’s just one problem: most of them are inaccessible to myself and many other queer, disabled people.
I’ve heard many other queer, disabled people say the same things. For starters, many bars and clubs aren’t wheelchair-accessible—the doorways aren’t wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through, or the event is held downstairs without an elevator available. I’ve heard someone say that some restrooms in bars aimed at cis queer men don’t even have toilets, just urinals.
Also, the music in many bars and clubs is super, super loud—I’m talking about music that is so loud that it’s simply intolerable. As an autistic person, I cannot tolerate noise any louder than eighty (80) decibels, about the noise level of a ringing alarm clock—and clubs tend to have music that is 100 to 110 decibels (some places are even louder).
Plus, there’s a lot of alcohol involved. Yes, it’s at a bar, so naturally there going to be alcohol there, but does every queer event have to involve drinking? Not everyone can tolerate alcohol, even if it’s just a little bit. I can’t drink even a few sips because even that much makes me feel sick to my stomach. Also, some people have medical conditions that make them unable to drink at all, or they may get very, very sick.
In addition, there’s a lot of walking, and not a lot of seating at Pride parades and festivities and other queer spaces, and that can be very difficult for someone who can’t stand for a long time or walk long distances like myself.
And at a lot of these queer events, there tends to be a lot of strong smells that may adversely affect someone who has sensitivities to certain odors. Some people, like myself, can’t tolerate certain odors at all because it makes them feel nauseous. Others may have allergic reactions to strong smells, which can be dangerous to their health.
To be more inclusive and accessible, queer events should have the following accommodations: wheelchair-accessible doorways and restrooms; music that’s at a lower volume; drink options besides alcohol, as well as light food options; more places to sit at during Pride; and scent-free or minimally-scented spaces.
Most importantly, event organizers should ask their patrons how their spaces can be more accessible to the queer community so that everyone can have a good time at these events.