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We’ve received quite a few questions about Take Back The Bar, our goals and the format of our monthly events, so we’ve compiled the answers for this FAQ. Don’t forget to visit the TBTB Facebook page for updates and location announcements! Thanks to our co-sponsors, Boston GLOW and Cambridge Women’s Center.
What is our main goal in Taking Back The Bar? We want to empower people to reclaim space that is traditionally unwelcoming. So much of our movement through space is dominated by other people and the way we’re treated—we change our routes, avoid certain streets and neighborhoods, don’t go to specific clubs or venues—and we think that’s not okay. We want people to feel like they have the ability and the right to occupy whatever public space exists, and we’re doing our best to facilitate a safe and supportive space for people to do that.
Why we are taking space in areas we usually feel unwelcome/unsafe? This is more about empowering people to feel like they don’t have to avoid certain places. It’s about reclaiming space that has been off limits for whatever reason. It’s less about making a statement to the people in the bar and more about creating a safe, empowering space within it for our group to enjoy.
How are we going to proactively make people of color and the LGBTQ community feel safer at these establishments? By promoting TBTB to community organizations of color and LGBTQ organizations we can make sure they are aware that our events are inclusive. Our objective is to create a safe space, so although we cannot guarantee that the establishments themselves will be more welcoming, we can guarantee that our group will be a supportive one.
What are we going to do specifically when we are uncomfortable? Is this a confrontational statement? This is not confrontational if we can help it. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m not interested,” “Don’t talk to me that way,” or “I’m here with my friends.” If someone feels uncomfortable and they don’t feel safe to say something, they can and should look for support within the group. We are all there to have each other’s backs as much as we can, but there is also no shame in walking away from a situation if that feels right.
What are we going to do if there is a group of people who are particularly hostile? Don’t be afraid to walk away or to get a staff member of the establishment. The group at large also has your back. We’ll act in solidarity with whatever you decide to do. However, we don’t condone violence and meeting aggression with aggression is not what we see as the answer.
Why aren’t we talking to the spaces beforehand to let them know we are coming (in case an act of violence happens or an incident)? We aren’t talking to venues in advance because we’re not going to do anything abnormal or radical. We’re quite literally just hanging out in a bar, which is exactly what all other patrons are doing. We shouldn’t have to announce our presence, as it makes it seem even more like we don’t belong there. If there is an incident or an act of violence, we’ll report it to the venue immediately, and they are trained to handle those things, like they do when it happens to other people in their establishment. If we don’t feel like it’s handled appropriately, we can take action, whether it’s calling them out online or contacting authorities. The sponsors of Take Back The Bar are not responsible for the actions of individuals, and creating an event in the eyes of the establishments could lead them to single us out as a group if things go awry that we had no knowledge of or involvement in.
Who is invited to Take Back The Bar? Everyone. This event is open to all individuals who have ever felt unsafe, unwelcome or harassed in the Boston nightlife scene, and allies who want to support safer spaces for all.