Singer and song writer Ethan Bourne asks whether it’s right for gay clubs to exclude straight people because of their sexuality.
The other day, I decided to go with some friends to a well known London gay club that I often frequent. However, having been asked by the staff on the door of the sexuality of my group, containing about 5 female heterosexual individuals, I was told that they were not welcome but my gay friends were. Not wanting to be confrontational despite being quite frankly outraged, I left and we enjoyed the night at another club which graciously accepted anyone regardless of sexuality.
The issues that this throws up, to my way of thinking, are tumultuous. There are of course two sides to this story and an argument that says a gay club is a gay club and therefore exclusively for gay people, but I would say that this is only discrimination and discrimination which comes from the idea of a gay club being a place where homophobia is absent, only to be replaced by discrimination against heterosexual people. I would be horrified if I were refused entry to a ‘straight’ cub on grounds of sexuality and this is in fact illegal, so how can a gay club perpetuate this exclusion?
I accept the fact that people would say that a gay club is perhaps one of the few paces gay people feel comfortable and I agree completely with this, having felt myself years ago that my only real escape was to socialise with other gay people. They would go on to say however, that because of this, it should remain a ‘gay’ clientele, but I would argue that the very notion of excluding individuals because of their sexuality is the same mindset that we are trying to tackle to create equality.
What’s more, aside from the contradictory manner of a club for those perhaps excluded from other aspects of life then excluding people themselves, for me, this creates a larger problem, and one that can only go towards the detriment of people like myself who wish for complete equality. If some straight people are excluded from clubs on grounds of their sexuality, then how is this likely to affect their perception of the gay scene? That it is strictly for gays? That they do not wish to mingle with heterosexual individuals? That they would rather be sealed off? Well this is a terrible sentiment. The very idea of equality is that we should all be able to feel comfortable in whatever social situation and if heterosexual individuals are excluded from gay places, their perception of the gay culture is surely only going to be a negative one of discrimination and therefore creates more problems when gay people ask to be included elsewhere in society.
I would conclude that this example shows we all have a part to play. I don’t think it is just about campaigning for equal rights for gay individuals which I of course believe in, but on a social level, I don’t think it is fair that whilst asking for equality, we can perpetuate the same social exclusion that has lead to so much bullying and discrimination. We should learn to accept all individuals and although I accept gay venues do offer a ‘refuge’ from a perhaps intimidating or overwhelming heterosexual scene, by shutting the doors to heterosexual people, we are only continuing the problems that we face for a fairer future for all.