by: Patrick Gill
I, with some frequency, go to Boystown bars. I also, with greater frequency, have to evacuate my colon, and do so in toilets. I like to make waste with comfort, but in a pinch I can poop in some less than savory privies. That said, I require some privacy. I’m not one for eye contact while on the can, and a half wall with a slatted door isn’t conducive to bowel relief for me.
I recently walked into a washroom of a Boystown bar and found not only was there not door on the stall, but there was no seat on the bowl. The gaping bleach white rim almost bellowed, “Nope, that’s not something you can do here. Sorry I’m not sorry.” Boystown toilets are catty apparently. I digress.
This incident is not isolated. In fact I have seen it occur for some time in different places. Many bars on the North Halstead strip have taken stall doors off of their hinges, or just not had doors to begin with. In their own way, the bars have made restrooms a place for colonic unrest. Is there a miscommunication in the gay community that we do not poop? Did none of us read of have Everybody Poops read to us? Are we not everybody? Do I have to go into the filthy consequences of not allowing gay men to defecate? Hint: they are sexual.
The ‘modification’ of restrooms in this way is both puzzling and distressing, why are we not allowed to shit in peace? Why do I have to have a mental map, and sometimes plan my night according to said map, of which bars I can poop in? Why are we doing this to ourselves?
There is something larger than my want to relieve myself in peace that this inhibits, something less humorous too. Not having a stall door is transphobic. Even if it may be unintentional, it discourages trans male and trans* masculine folks from coming to bars. If they cannot comfortably use the restroom facilities, it limits their want to even step foot in the bar.
We are alienating our brothers and siblings, especially isolating male loving or gay identified trans men who, would you believe, just want to go to a bar and drink/hook up with dudes/feel apart of their gay male community. Do you really want to get in the way of your fellow gay getting some? Do you want to turn away another person trying to have a good night? Do you really want your fellow gay man to feel uncomfortable in yet another place?
To have these men then go to the ladies room not only mis-genders and disrespects them, it also opens up the possibility of violence from female patrons who see a man in their restroom. This threat exists in the men’s room too when bigoted patrons might see, through a doorless stall, someone who doesn’t fit a narrow cis-scope of gender.
I understand that there are reasons behind not having a door: to inhibit sex or drug use in the bathroom stall. At this time I don’t know exactly to curb those activities, though I am sure there are ways. But is the potential of sex or drug use a greater threat than rejecting a part of our community? I think we can contain ourselves with those urges more easily than the need to defecate.
I know that creating gender neutral restrooms might not be something bars want to do; I am not asking for that. I am asking for an inch thick, 6 foot, piece of metal that swings on hinges and can lock. A simple door. Bars can even get a wood one if it matches the decor. I am asking for bars to help people who use the men’s room feel safe, that the spaces for them are truly supportive of them.