Should straights be allowed in gay bars?

The promoter of London’s G-A-Y Jeremey Joseph caused controversy by saying straight girls were not welcome at the upcoming performance of the X-Factor’s One Direction. He tweeted:

“My birthday wish is for little girls to realise that G-A-Y is a lesbian and gay club so there’s only one direction and that’s no direction for them”.

And

“hoping the name G-A-Y, isnt too Subtle???? It’s G-A-Y not Str8”

The gay blogosphere reacted almost immediately and unanimously against Joseph’s heterophobic (is that even a word!?) standpoint. I have to admit I am also completely against his comments and can’t help but feel a community which has long been excluded should comprehensively make others feel included.

Several of the so-called gay super-clubs check ‘gay-credentials’ in order to prevent straight people from being admitted. One of my straight-male friends once came to such a club with me for a birthday night out and was quizzed on the door on gay culture and even asked to kiss a guy, in the end we decided to go somewhere else despite him ‘passing’ their test. The vast majority of gay people would be outraged if the situation were reversed so why should we be allowed to do it?

Naturally gay venues have a responsibility to first-and-foremost cater to its gay visitors and some have remarked that gay clubs can be abandoned when they are seen to become ‘too straight’. Gay venues are havens, a place where gay people can be with their community in a safe environment, I agree whole-heartedley with this sentiment but being anti-straight is a form of self-ostracization and ultimately would provoke animosity from both groups. A fine balance obviously has to be struck but striving for this balance rather than being discriminatory is in my opinion surely the way to go.

Jamie McHale

17 comments

  1. Claudia

    It seems a shame that a place and group of people that pride themselves on being inclusive are actively excluding people with different feelings. I appreciate it can be difficult to keep the haven-feeling when clubs are prone to being overran with hen-dos and the like that find the whole experience hilarious. But as a straight girl myself I truly appreciate the chance to hang out with people more open and friendly than I’ll ever meet in “hetero” clubs, and I’d hate to have that taken away.

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  3. There would be a lot less g a y s in the world without moms like me… remember that! I am a proud fag hag and the proud mom of a gay son and bi-sexual daughter, to bar people like me that fight for the equality of LGBTQ persons is the to condone the same type of discrimination that I fight against for you.

    • “I have to admit I am also completely against his comments and can’t help but feel a community which has long been excluded should comprehensively make others feel included.”

      Keep up the good fight!

  4. Cris West

    Hmmm, difficult one. There are many bars where I live that are exclusively for gay men and they are always busy. There are also straight bars in the area where I feel so repressed that I now avoid going to them. But then saying that, a lot of my friends will always go to afore mentioned straight bar as they like it, and we took some girls into a men only club last night, so who knows? As bad as it sounds, straight girls are never as bad as boys so maybe that is who the comments are towards in reality?

    • I think you’re right when you say the anti-straight attitude is normally directed more towards to guys and we both know from working in gay bars that bouncers were always edgy about admitting straight men in case there was any violence. I think it was the fact Joseph’s comments were directed towards straight women that it caused so much controversy.

  5. Kirsty

    There is one main problem here. As Jamie says, a balance has to be struck. Discrimination is wrong, regardless of who it is directed at and gay clubs have a responsibility to remain primarily, well, gay.

    The problem comes in the question of how can a club possibly balance the two. The way Jeremy Joseph went about this is wrong. He overtly denied a whole group of people access to a venue based on their sexuality. But equally, gay clubs do have a prerogative to do this. It is the reasons for doing this that are important. To keep a club safe, then discrimination is excusable. To keep a club ‘gay’. Well, this is the grey area.

    Gay clubs have to discriminate against straights sometimes. As much as I don’t like this from a personal point of view, gay clubs have to be selective in order for them to remain what they are; places in which the gay community can openly express themselves, and feel comfortable doing it. The point is, Jeremy was not denying these girls access on the basis of safety for the gay community, which can allow for such discriminations.

    As homosexuality becomes more widely accepted and the need for gay clubs becomes more blurred, the justifications for not allowing hetros in to these clubs become less powerful.

  6. Hannah Nimmo

    I believe whole heartedly in what Jamie is saying in his blog, the comments that Jeremy Joseph tweeted, in the words of Mchale, “a form of self-ostracization” I totally agree with. Like Claudia I myself, selfishly appreciate the opportunity to go to straight clubs and bars, largely due to the friendliness and openness of the atmosphere, and I feel, advocating a purely ‘gay only’ admission policy defeats the whole object of what makes the gay scene so appealing to straight and gay people alike.
    With reference to Jeremy’s tweet, I think he is naïve in stipulating the admission policy with reference to G-A-Y’s headline act ‘One Direction’ (i.e. who is their biggest fan base – teenage straight girls) I think it promotes a divided when there does not need to be one, but ultimately, does not necessarily promote good business sense.

  7. Cris West

    I’d love to be subjected to a gay test before a club though. They should but a hot guy on the door at every gay bar and you have to kiss him to get in! Lush!

  8. Roisin

    Homophobia and Heterophobia are both wrong, granted. However; when I go to straight clubs, I get very quickly sick of being leered at and felt up by desperate men. I’d like to think that I could escape this in a gay bar, but, unfortunately, on more popular nights in my local gay bar, you can always find some straight men and women dotted around the edges of the dancefloor, reacting to homosexuals as if we were freaks. I have no problem with allowing heterosexuals into a gay club or bar, but my problem lies in the fact that I’d rather not be pointed at or watched by them when I dance with another girl.

    • I’ve had a few Gay roommates and a girlfriend who has lots of Gay friends, and they all apparently love to feel women’s breasts. I’m not really sure why…

  9. In establishments like this, if the Gay people discriminating against Straight people are okay with themselves being discriminated in other places for being Gay, I suppose it evens out. But not really. Those places sound like they have some small-minded people working at them. Hate is wrong. Discrimination is wrong. It doesn’t matter who did it to who, who’s doing it to who, etc. Be the bigger person. Always.

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