Montreal Gay Bar Faces Complaint for “Men Only” Policy

Stud

Audrey Vachon, a Canadian woman who was asked to leave Montreal’s Bar Le Stud when she sat down to have a drink with her father on the patio because of their “men only” policy, has filed a complaint with Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal, reports CTV.

Said Vachon: “On the spot I didn’t believe it, I thought it was a bad joke. I didn’t say a word until I’d left. I was too shocked. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, I felt guilty that I’d even gone there, like I’d done something wrong.”

According to CTV, “A spokesperson with Montreal’s Gay Chamber of Commerce said Le Stud may have made an error and that the group wants Quebec’s Charter of Rights respected.”

The incident comes on the heels of a recent ruling over a similar situation in Melbourne, Australia, where popular gay spot The Peel Hotel was awarded the right by a court to bar heterosexuals from the premises.

As in Australia, feelings appear to be mixed about the situation, with some saying there should be a place where gay men can go and be able to be themselves, and others, like Peter Sergakis, another Montreal bar owner, saying it’s time for the policy to go: “This should not be happening, it’s like going back 20 years ago when the gays were intimidated in straight bars. I’m sure the owner is going to change the habits. This is not acceptable in 2007.”

It’s unclear what the outcome of Vachon’s complaint may be.

Montreal gay bar under fire for barring women [ctv]
Woman lodges human rights complaint after being evicted from gay bar [canada.com]

Comments

  1. Matt says

    I strongly feel that these policies of “gay only” are so detrimental. We are doing exactly what whites did to blacks during segregation and we all know how well that went. The only way the straight community is going to truely learn about us and accept us is if we welcome them with open arms.

  2. Glenn says

    I don’t think you can equate gays discriminating against straights with what whites did to blacks here. There’s a difference between a powerful majority oppressing the minority, and the oppressed minority trying to find some safe space by turning the tables here and there. When we’re all truly equal in this society, then we can start equating.

    But that doesn’t mean that what Le Stud did was right — it wasn’t. And it does smack of misogyny, which DOES have a long and sordid history that we need to fight against. And it’s just unnecessary: I don’t know of many gay men who object to the presence of women in their bars.

  3. John says

    I am not from Canada, but have visited numerous times. There used to be “taverns” in Quebec and maybe in Ontario that were male only — both straight and gay ones? I think they only served beer but not hard liquor? When did the laws change to outlaw them? Can someone educate me?

  4. CF says

    This is bullshit — there are literally HUNDREDS of places that chick and her pop could have had a drink.

    She picked one of the GAY BARS. She or her dad had better be a homo.

    I’ll break out my teeny-tiny violin for this one.

  5. Ridwah says

    I’ve seen this happen at a lot of gay bars. At Club 67 in Grand Rapids MI (now closed), I used to get hassled by the queen at the door for bringing straight people with me. Splash in NY almost didn’t let one of my lady friends in one night because there were go-go boys present and they thought she’d be “distracting”. And Ginger’s, the lesbian bar in Brooklyn, probably has the worst rep I’ve ever heard for it’s patrons threatening gay men right back out the door. (Even though male bartenders work there.)

    And don’t get me started on some of my local East Williamsburg bars who won’t serve me because I’m white!

  6. joe says

    These gay club owners are giving the gay community a bad name. Their discriminating practises – in the name of retaining gay “ambience” – are sheer stupidity and have the potential to bite back with a return to the days when the general community discriminated against gay people. When gay people fought for equal rights, not for a moment did I think that it would turn out this way.

  7. gwyneth cornrow says

    I agree with Glenn. This, and what’s happening with the hotels in Australia and Turkey, are bad precedents. I can just imagine some straight bar saying that gay men won’t be served because they have their own places.
    Besides, carpet munchers should be welcomed with open arms at gay bars. They add color to the place.

  8. Adam says

    Ridwah,
    What about the Metropolitan? That was one of my favorites when I lived in Williamsburg. Its a gay bar but for both men and women and I always saw straight male or female friends there as well. For a while it was the most popular bar with my straight friends.
    I really think this is also a generational thing. I think a lot of urban folks in their 20s are not as interested or as comfortable in a gay bar scene dominated by one gender or excluding straight people.

  9. adam says

    The gay community risks becoming an isolated and arrogant community if it accepts these discriminatory practises from gay bar owners. Just say “no” to discrimination in any way, shape or form, whether it’s gender-based, orientation-based or race-based. Gay people who practise discrimination of this sort are creeps who don’t deserve to run bars.

  10. Gregoire says

    “No one thinks it is weird that she was at le stud with her father?”

    “This is bullshit — there are literally HUNDREDS of places that chick and her pop could have had a drink.”

    If she is a lesbian, or her father is gay, there isnt really. Gay people tend to frequent gay establishments, out of support for the community. In this case they were rewarded with being ejected.

  11. kent says

    What… the girls don’t want men in their bars? There have been more times that when I have gone to a gay bar, and it turned out to be a women’s bar I was made uncomfortable or asked to leave since it was a women’s bar. I have never seen a women be asked to leave a mens bar. Be careful for what you ask for, as the results may be something you had not invisioned.

  12. brian says

    I agree that gay bars are a form of sanctuary but it’s also important to remember that the straights who go there are also generally our friends. When we in the gay community turn them away, we are turning our friends against us. Let’s not devolve into a closed-minded group of people. We got to where we got because of the help we got from gay-friendly straights.

  13. griffin1573 says

    John…in answer to question.

    I can’t speak for Quebec.
    I was born and raised in Toronto.
    The concept of “beer taverns” has’nt been around since I was a teenager in the ’70’s.
    There was a time,that ended in the late ’70’s early ’80’s,when liquer was not allowed to be served on Sundays.Hence beer only periods of the week.
    But those type of bi-laws ended a long time ago when the liquer laws where up dated and moved out of the victorian mind set that we had been saddled with.
    As for the idea of segregated “straight/gay” spaces.
    Legally that kind of thing fell out of trend,and I say trend because there was never any legal mandate of segregation,back when we created our Charter of Rights.
    Places have attempted to create “womens only spaces,mens only spaces” etc.
    However they’ve never stood up to a legal challenge.
    The Charter of Rights is national so I doubt that Quebec,which by the way has always been a more open and forward thinking province then Ontario,would be any different then the rest of the country.
    Now that being said…I can only say what I’ve seen in my life time.
    What may have been legal or fasionable before I came of age in the ’70’s is a matter of history and should be viewed in the context of the time’s.

  14. mark says

    This sort of stuff goes to show you that foolishness and intolerance is alive and well in this world. I hope she sues and wins, some of these gay establishments are just awful with their arbitrary rules of who they let in, most don’t want blacks and make sure they are well aware that they are not wanted, most don’t want women and let them know it, and the some of the black bars don’t want whites, its all just totally disgusting and a cycle of intolerance and hate, and its wrong.

    Intolerance is wrong, and there are no excuses as to why you would ban anyone from a place of business, based on race, gender or sexual orientation in the civilized world, the place should lose its liquor license.

    Totally disgusting.

  15. brian says

    On canada.com, it says that the Montreal bar promotes itself as “one of the most hard, manly, and virile establishments in town.” To which I say “give me a freaking break!!” Anyone who’s been there knows that most of the men in there tend to mince and lisp with their queeny voices. Manly and virile my foot.

  16. rochon pierre says

    I know this bar. Big hairy bears Cruising Bar; but none of them at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The gentille naive little girl simply saw an empty terrace. The waiter clearly rejected her bicose 2 or 3 customers inside suggested and insisted so.
    Sheer ‘niaiserie’ (moronitude) but just enuf to sparkle a few
    blurs of local weakened homophobia.

  17. John says

    Just to add to the mix– what about male only bath houses? In some places they serve alcohol and are much like a bar setting with sex. Do you truly want all establishments to allow all genders? And maybe an all-women space is not a bad idea for some women. I haven’t really decided where I stand on this issue. For years many leather bars did not let women in, and there was a certain atmosphere that is no longer there in leather bars today.

  18. jack says

    I haven’t fought for gay rights so that gays can discriminate against others. If you’re a gay person who wants to discriminate, you have no place in a fair-minded gay community. Go away.

  19. Derrick form PHilly says

    Brian, you hit it on the nose…although I do like “manly and virile” feet–big ones. If it was truly a “men only” bar, half the guys in there would have to leave. I don’t believe in black only, white only, Latino only, gay only, etc.

  20. Glenn says

    Well, John, I really think bathhouses are a different subject entirely. You’re necessarily there for one thing — sex with other men (assuming it’s a gay bathhouse). The alcohol is just incidental. I think there’s a good reason for excluding women there. Just like I don’t think you have to hire women for a gay porn flick. Being all-male is rather essential to the enterprise.

    But a bar? I guess reasonable people could disagree, but to say that being male-only is essential to a bar seems like a huge stretch, to me.

  21. Ray says

    There are hundreds of bars in Montreal, more than a dozen in the Village but only a few bars left where men can meet men without beeing bothered by. Maybe the barman wasn’t very diplomatic in his approach, and now the gay community as a whole is paying for her lack of jugment: she must be too stupid and/or too young to understand that she has no place in a gay leather/jeans bar.
    By the way, she and her father are ‘straight’ and there wouldn’t be all that fuss if her father didn’t work for the national TV network.

  22. Leland says

    “some saying there should be a place where gay men can go and be able to be themselves” And exactly what does that mean. Be juvenile? Retarded? Mutant? Alien? Troglodytic? This story, the similar one in Australia, the one about yet another ludicrous leather queen beauty pageant just proves that our greatest obstacle to achieving equal rights is still within ourselves. Manly? Virile? The “mother ships” of the US leather “fraternity” were the New York and DC bars each called “The Eagle.” They took their name from what Hitler called one of his hideaways. It’s one thing to celebrate value-neutral individual diffferences and another to institutionalize them. The goal is not assimilation but MATURATION.

    Long ago and far away, I was escorting Eartha Kitt into Lost & Found in DC and suddenly simultaneously discovered their basic “No Women/No Blacks” policy when the spud at the door didn’t know who she was and asked her for ID. He also didn’t know that she is one of the original Divas and would have eaten him alive had she realized what that was about before, fortunately, the manager who had a surprise 50th birthday cake awaiting her inside came up in the proverbial nick of time and whisked us in. She was an exception to the policy because she was a celebrity he luved. Random other women/Blacks, I learned, could get in if they were friends of the right white men. While being gay per se wasn’t the source—sexism and racism were—that night I was ashamed to be gay because we should know better. But too many, even today, escape the homohatred they’ve learned, escape the closet but take with them the other nonsense they’ve been “carefully taught.” Like sexism, racism, and, yes, being Republican.

  23. Derrick from Philly says

    Great story Leland, and it illustrates how silly this “men only” policy is. But how in the hell did you get into the club with Ms Kitt. If she was 50, you couldn’t have been more than 14.

  24. Leland says

    With a fake ID. [I wish. LOL]

    “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.
    You’ve got to be taught from year to year.
    It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear.
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made; or people whose skin is a different shade.
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late.
    Before you are six or seven or eight.
    To hate all the people your relatives hate.
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

    -from “South Pacific,” Rodgers & Hammerstein, which opened on Broadway, April 7, 19FORTY-NINE!!!!

    I sat in the balcony. :- )

  25. Robert says

    I used to tend bar at a gay bar in Tulsa. Straights started coming in and at first I thought it was a good thing. I quickly began to resent their presence because they came not as friends but as gawkers looking at the freak show. (Also, drunk girls would try to tip me by giving me a kiss. Yuck! and how dumb.) Anyway, I no longer go to the bars becasue they tend to have a drunken-losers-only attendance policy.

  26. Ben says

    I think Robert’s comments show why, on occasion, gay bars have to resort to restrictive policies. The bar in Melbourne had a similar problem with straights (especially straight women) coming in to gawk at the clientele, and that was why the local courts permitted the owners to restrict entry. In narrow circumstances, a policy which would otherwise be unacceptably discriminatory may be justified.

    However, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Unless Le Stud was enforcing a leather-only dress code at 3 p.m., it had no right to chuck out a woman who only wanted a drink with her dad.

  27. Seann says

    @Ben

    When did legislation become the answer to problem? Discrimination should never be tolerated. How about asking the gawkers to leave, not for being women or straight, but for their actions?

    People today are too damn reactionary.

  28. Geoff says

    @Leland, what a great story, and a moral behind it. These polices of who can and can get into a bar, as if its some sort of shire in ridiculous, and the bigots whop own them need to be outed, and sued out of business.
    Sorry, discriminating against anyone is wrong, no matter how much pink frosting you put on it, because if they picked out a woman today, who next, and Asian gay male who may not be in those silly leather get ups they wear? Someone with a limp who isn’t deemed “butch” enough? Its just wrong, no matter how you look at it, even though some here seem to relish in the fact that she was treated poorly and without reason.

    And, I’ve been to gay bars in many cites around this world, and have never encountered these alleged “gawkers” and have even been to Le Stud, which is le joke from the night I was there.

  29. Joe T. says

    Yes, but Leland, I like “South Pacific” too, but what about those of us who were taught all that that song espouses by our parents, but our life experiences have taught us differently?

  30. anon says

    Alas, there is a lot of confusion here over the basic issues regarding discrimination and segregation. The simplest way to explain the problem is perhaps to point out that the logic of an ‘anything goes access policy of sameness everywhere’ would eliminate all “gay” bars everywhere, and any other kind of distinct establishment. If you simply must have 70% white, 95% str8 and 52% women at all these bars then that is all you will have, and if you support anything else then you are discriminating and segregating. These are private establishments that need to distinguish themselves from each other in order to attract clientele. If you support the notion that it is all right for a bar to be predominantly gay by subtle forms of discrimination and segregation then more earnest means are hardly going to matter in the end. The courts have banned places of public accommodation from outright racial and sexual discrimination in most cases (but not private clubs), but realistically they hardly expect everything to become perfectly even according to the latest demographic data. What about the rich/poor divide? Charge a $100 cover and you eliminate the riff-raff. There is no way to prevent this. If a bar wants to have a no women policy then gay men who hate the policy won’t go and they will lose that business. I can’t imagine a simpler “solution” to the social “ill” being described. What I’m sensing is that the egalitarians here not only want to eliminate discrimination they want to eliminate any signs that it exists–sort of a purification campaign. This is overly dogmatic in my opinion.

  31. ohmy says

    Wait wait wait wait wait. I can’t believe some posters here are arguing for the right to “gay only” clubs so gays can be themselves. Is turnabout fair play? Of course not, these same posters no doubt go into fits about “straight only” clubs — you know, places where straights can be themselves. It’s not right either way. The ONLY way you can expect widespread acceptance, to the point where nobody really cares what dangly bits get you hot, is if ALL kinds of people are welcomed EVERYWHERE.

  32. anon says

    Alas, OHMY, your logic doesn’t hold up.

    What do you do inside your super-egalitarian club, force everyone to dance and talk together? “Is turnabout fair play?” you ask. Again, str8 people who think such an establishment is unfair will not go. Fairness and sameness are not the same thing.

    At what point is a gay bar no longer a “gay” bar? 10 women, 20 women, 30 women…? Please let us know at what point you would bar women at the door.

  33. Strepsi says

    I have mixed feelings. ANy discrimination is wrong, and it’s particularly sensitive in Quebec where under our Civil COde (read: Constitution) it is illegal to discriminate by gender and gender-orientation.

    However, exceptions are made for women. Just TRY to go into a women’s group at a university, a women’s gym, or a women’s shelter. NOT gonna happen. WHy? Women’s safety.

    I live in Montreal and I HAVE seen the gawkers. I have seen gay clubs that turned straight, and the cusp was ugly. During one of those critical mass moments, where there were equal number of young straights (it was a popular club regardless of orientation) and gays, a friend was SLASHED IN THE FACE with a broken beer bottle for being visibly gay.

    Thus my ambivalence — i do not like discrimination and I do not like the backalash that this will cause — or the “thin end of the wedge” for more discrimination. But I do believe that there should be some gay only places. Sorry

  34. ohmy says

    ANON – I said nothing about forcing anyone to mingle, or anything about forcing the number of people inside to represent the same proportions of the general population.

    A gay club is only a gay club if its clientele is predominately gay and it markets itself as a gay club. If gay-only clubs are allowed, then white-only clubs, men-only, women-only, straight-only, untransgendered-only etc etc etc must also be permitted. No ifs ands or buts. I expect you to support their right to discriminate just as strongly.

    STREPS – Violence is illegal regardless of the target demographic of the business where it takes place, so that’s not an argument really.

  35. James Waite says

    Personally I think there should be some leeway in who can use particular spaces. As someone above mentioned there are women only gyms so why not a place where gay men can be together? Does this mean I can sue the local women’s gym to let me in? It is conviniently located.
    As far as bars, for a while there was only one small gay bar here in London (Canada not UK) in the city where I live. Straight pople started going to it so when it hit capacity some of us gay folk had to wait outside in the cold. There’s dozens of other bars around, why did those people have to fill up our little gay bar. BTW it went out of business.
    My lesbian sister used to complain about men, gay or straight, in the lesbian bars in Toronto since there were only two bars for women in TO and the same capacity issues happened.

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