Rachel Wenman dates straight girls. Or, more accurately, she has only dated them, but she would love to date a “full-on lesbo” if the right one came along. Actually, the 24-year-old won’t even rule out the possibility that she might fall for a man someday, as long as he was strong enough to accept her for who she is.
None of this is to say that Wenman preaches the Kinseyan scale of attraction or thinks that people go through different phases of sexual orientation. She is simply a self-identified lesbian—“I know what my initial thoughts are when I walk into a room”—who accepts that sexuality is far more complicated than any titles or labels can accurately contain.
“I don’t necessarily believe in ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ definitions,” she says. “People are attracted to people.”
It’s this open-minded approach that puts Wenman at the forefront of the gay and lesbian club scene. She and partner (as in professional, not life) DJ Lisa Pittman recently introduced the lesbian-focused, straight-friendly monthly event, Down, at Ghostbar. It is an environment for lesbians who aren’t quite comfortable with full-fledged lesbian joints like Candybar; it’s for the wildly or mildly bicurious; or for friends of lady-loving ladies who maybe want options themselves.
“If we can have a wacky night like this, let’s do it,” she says, because sometimes that’s what it takes. “It’s hard to meet gay women.”
Recently single, Wenman knows that firsthand. Specific clubs exist, sure, but when you are not the approach-a-stranger-at-a-club type, as Wenman says she isn’t, meeting people in everyday life can be daunting, especially without a cultural gay hub. Born and raised in Vegas, Wenman knows better than most the transient, noncommittal nature of this city. She has seen the community as a whole work to find an identity and knows that the struggle to establish a thriving subculture, like the gay and lesbian one, is 10 times more difficult.
“It’s not a choice,” she says, “but it’s not an easy orientation to be if you’re an insecure person.”
Though she considers herself confident and backed by a strong circle of friends and family, Wenman say she still feels that tiny pang of worry and hesitation when walking into a new place. Here in Vegas it isn’t so bad, she says, but she once felt outright afraid when walking into a small-town bar in Colorado.
“It’d be nice if nobody had that tiny little thought enter their mind before they went into anyplace,” Wenman says.
That is easier said than done, of course, but Wenman believes that having a major nightclub powerhouse like N9NE Group embrace a reoccurring lesbian lounge night is one small step toward equal environments for all. As for life outside the bump and grind of nightlife, well, that is an even slower process.
“You just have to embrace who you are,” she says. “Society will catch up.”