Gay bars have always had an enigmatic presence here in Singapore—although less spoken about and probably less frequently visited by heterosexual people. I have always wondered what lurks within and frankly speaking, I believe many of us will want to know what to prepare for before heading to one.
My visit to one certainly changed my perspective of gay bars and after contacting Leow Yangfa, the Executive Director of Oogachaga, there are certain pointers highlighted by him as well that you should take note of. Here are some things you might expect if you head down and things you should note to be the best straight ally you can be.
Just like any other bars, expect pop hits and party anthems to be playing through the speakers as you enter. The walls of the bars are usually adorned with Pride flags, a symbol of LGBTQ pride and movement, a reminder that you are there as a guest and the people there are not exhibits for you to fix your eyes and judge.
Just remember to be yourself and that you’re here to have a good time.
The community welcomes straight people into the bars, so feel free to have your drinks. You do not necessarily need to be there to look for a significant other—you can make friends too. Do treat everybody with respect and if you feel uncomfortable, there is no need to get physical, rude or defensive. You never know who might make a great friend in the future. Have a polite conversation and enjoy your time there.
You are welcome to bring your other straight ally friends as well to the bar if they are comfortable. Do respect the space of the LGBTQ community and avoid intruding with your bodies or noise that may potentially make the people there uncomfortable in your presence. Just like the typical bars you have been to, do respect everyone as a human, and don’t go ogling around at bodies or even, God forbid, touch them.
You may be accustomed to the usual bars where everybody aims to get high, and chugging drinks or shots seems like the norm. It is uncommon to find such scenes happening in a gay bar.
People enjoying a simple cocktail is the most likely sight that you will come across as opposed to wild drinking sessions that you might have experienced before. The culture is relatively different here, so try to stick with the culture if you are heading there in a large group.
You may come across people dressed in drag, and you will have the chance to see varying sexualities in the gay bar. Embrace that diversity if you see something or someone you’ve not seen before, and please don’t take photos without people’s explicit permission if you do not want to be on the receiving end of a stick from the people there. As a straight ally, you may receive a few curious stares where they might be questioning your presence. Respect their thoughts and there is no need for you to pick a fight.
Always educate yourself and know about the bar before heading down. Not all gay bars are inclusive of everyone, and some might prefer at least one queer-identified person to accompany that non-LGBTQ guest.
Look and see if there is any special event on that day as well as this will let you set expectations on what the bar is like. You can ask others for their experience at the bar and look for reviews so that you will not be culturally shocked upon entering.
From the moment your feet are planted into the grounds of a gay bar, you are entering the space of the LGBTQ community. Remember, you are a guest in this space, and I have to reiterate the point of showing respect. If you are heading there for the first time, there will be sights that you have probably not witnessed before.
Don’t stare and pass on judgements among your friends, it is not nice. Respect the space, respect the people there, and keep your hands to yourself. Just be there to have a drink and a good time to catch up with others.
Opening Hours: Sunday to Friday: 8 P.M. – 3 A.M.
Saturday and Eve of Public holidays: 8 P.M. – 4 A.M.
Opening Hours: Mondays – Fridays: 6 P.M. – 1 A.M.
Saturdays: 6 P.M. – 2 A.M ; Sundays: 6 P.M. – 1 A.M.
Opening Hours: Mondays – Thursdays: 6 P.M. – 12 A.M.
Fridays: 6 P.M. – 1 A.M. ; Saturdays: 7 P.M. – 2 A.M.
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