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Montreal Gay Bar Faces Complaint for "Men Only" Policy

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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]

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Comments

  1. "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.

    Posted by: Leland | May 31, 2007 11:31:18 AM


  2. 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.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 31, 2007 11:43:06 AM


  3. 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. :- )

    Posted by: Leland | May 31, 2007 12:10:58 PM


  4. 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.

    Posted by: Robert | May 31, 2007 1:00:29 PM


  5. 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.

    Posted by: Ben | May 31, 2007 2:52:21 PM


  6. @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.

    Posted by: Seann | May 31, 2007 5:49:29 PM


  7. @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.

    Posted by: Geoff | May 31, 2007 6:28:04 PM


  8. 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?

    Posted by: Joe T. | May 31, 2007 11:37:18 PM


  9. 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.

    Posted by: anon | May 31, 2007 11:45:21 PM


  10. 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.

    Posted by: ohmy | Jun 1, 2007 8:37:28 AM


  11. 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.

    Posted by: anon | Jun 1, 2007 11:54:53 AM


  12. 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

    Posted by: Strepsi | Jun 2, 2007 4:16:13 PM


  13. 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.

    Posted by: ohmy | Jun 3, 2007 4:56:20 AM


  14. 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.

    Posted by: James Waite | Jun 5, 2007 12:52:23 AM


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