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Denmark Gay Bar: No Straight Kisses Allowed

NeverMindA minor brouhaha is fomenting over the ejection of equality activist Jobbe Joller and several friends from the gay bar Never Mind, in Copenhagen. Here's what happened, from Homotropolis:

Jobbe states that ... himself and his gay friend Martin ... were going out with two straight female friends and their boyfriends. They arrived at Never Mind and entered the bar without any problems. At one point when Jobbe came back in to the bar after talking on the phone outside, he meets one of his friends who was on her way out of the bar to speak to the bouncer who, a few minutes earlier, had informed her that it is not allowed for her, as a straight person, to kiss her boyfriend in Never Mind.

“I told the bouncer that it had to be discrimination against heterosexuals to say that they were not allowed to kiss,” Jobbe says, when we ask him to explain his version of the story.

“The bouncer replied that it was unacceptable to conduct in that kind of behaviour at a gay place and that Never Mind receives a lot of emails from its gay guests concerning the high number of straight guests that visit the bar. I asked him if it was not the same as saying that black people are not allowed to kiss in Never Mind, but he disagreed and told me that the owner of Never Mind may decide who can kiss and who can’t kiss in the bar,” says Jobbe, who also admits that he did not let the discussion stop there, but stuck to his argument on the alleged discrimination against heterosexuals.

“I repeated my claim that it corresponded to banning black people from kissing each other, and he asked me whether I was aware of § 3, 4 and 5 of the Penal Code, which I was not. When I replied that I would love to hear more about them, he could not explain what they actually state. At the same time my other friend and her boyfriend came back after a trip to 7-eleven, and they were then told that they couldn’t enter Never Mind again, probably because they had walked hand in hand showing that they were straight ... "

An argument ensued between Jobbe and several Never Mind staffers, and eventually Jobbe was told that he, too, was now banned from Never Mind, despite his sterling gay bona fides. Jobbe later sent an email to Never Mind, to which owner Christian Carlsen replied:

there are not many gay places left in Copenhagen, and that Never Mind is one of the places remaining and it is important to the gay community that Never Mind is kept as a gay place. So it is therefore not allowed for heterosexuals to kiss and so on in Never Mind ...

In a further email to Homotropolis, Carlsen wrote:

It is quite clear that gay bars in Copenhagen attract many straight people and that in itself is also okay, but when you come with 3, 4, or 5 straight friends you no longer fit into a gay bar ...

... Problems often arise when the girls, late at night, call their straight male friends and think it’s a good idea that they come by and join the party. They are often quite intoxicated, and most straight guys unfortunately have it a bit difficult with gay men. This often results in a serious situation which our security people than have to handle ...

... In Never Mind we don’t want heterosexual guests to dance, strip, kiss or behave inappropriately. There are plenty of places in Copenhagen that are reserved for heterosexuals, but there are only a few gay bars left, and it is probably fair enough that gays and lesbians have bars where they can meet other homosexual people without having to consider whether it is a straight or gay person they are addressing...

I wonder how many bars remain in Copenhagen where straight people can be absolutely sure they're addressing other hets. 

The Never Mind story is getting picked up all over -- perhaps most fruitfully by the Edge, which has assembled quotes from a plurality of viewpoints on the matter. Opinions are divided. Gawker's Brian Moylan, for instance, blames faghags for the present difficulties of gay bars. Straight girls, he says, ought to stay away.

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  1. "I wonder how many bars remain in Copenhagen where straight people can be absolutely sure they're addressing other hets. "

    Pretty much every straight bar? Straight bars may not say "no gays", but they have a de facto ban on gay people for the most part via social enforcement. Try going to a straight bar and hitting on any random male. I think most gay men wouldn't because they understand it's very likely they'd get assaulted.

    It's absolutely obnoxious that straight people can't be content with their own venues. Like AfterElton, the content completely changed to suit straight women because they outnumber gay men, and it became just another pop entertainment site instead of a site dedicated to gay male presence in programming and literature as it was before.

    Whenever you let a majority population overtake a social setting with a specific service to a minority population, whose interests win out? The majority population.

    Somehow lesbian bars and women only events and conventions are absolutely fine, and events catering to African American communities that seek to maintain a majority of members from those communities visible is fine. But when gay males demand their own dedicated spaces? They're greedy and selfish, discriminatory pricks.

    Posted by: Lucrece | May 5, 2012 3:16:15 PM

  2. Rather than a blanket ban on heterosexual displays, it would be much more effective and sensible if the management simply operates on a case-by-case basis. The issue here, as claimed by the bar owner, is not heterosexual displays of affection, but heterosexuals treating gay bars as a novelty, a place to behave poorly because they believe it's an "anything goes" environment.

    And I have to say, I agree with this. I've seen it in bars and clubs here in the US, where the straights come and think it's a fun place to act out without repercussions. The attitude is "oooh, look at how edgy I'm being, I'm at a *gay* bar! I'll get super drunk, make out with everybody, and stir up trouble because after all, it's a gay bar and you know how those gays love to party!" I rarely even visit bars (I don't drink alcohol) but there have been at least a few occasions where I've been physically assaulted by drunk women I've never met or interacted with before--completely out of the blue.

    So, the solution is simple: instead of barring straights, make rules of conduct clear and don't tolerate any BS. At the first sign of trouble, kick them out. Even if they're just being loud and obnoxious. You don't have to make it an official policy, you don't have to explain anything. Kissing or holding hands or being affectionate is not in itself grounds for removal--getting all crazy, sucking face, falling on other people, or screaming and yelling, gets you kicked out.

    Posted by: atomic | May 5, 2012 3:21:09 PM

  3. To Lucrece,

    Lesbian bars and women only events are both discriminatory. As a events that try to maintain a majority of black members.

    What should matter is the values a particular person holds. If lots of white people want to show up at African American rallies because they support the cause, then they should be welcomed. The same goes for a straight person who is comfortable and supportive enough of gays to show up at a gay bar.

    The last thing gay people should be doing is alienating non-gay people, we need all the support from all the human beings that we can get.

    Posted by: NSMITH | May 5, 2012 3:25:23 PM

  4. i'm a bit torn on this issue, but probably because of an historical perspective. having come out in 1981, when you walked into a gay bar, you felt totally safe and also as if the weight of the world was off your shoulders. today, the generation who has grown up with the fruits of some of the things we were able to win over the years has a different perspective, i would imagine.

    still, most of us regardless of age would not walk into a straight bar, restaurant or establishment and openly show affection or even bring attention to ourselves overtly.

    "I'm gay." will trip right off my tongue if i'm asked but i don't offer the information. however, when asked why i didn't offer it when someone finds out i simply ask, "When you introduce yourself do you say, 'Hi! my name is Joe & I'm straight.'"

    also, think about the number of lgbtq who are attacked & even murdered when walking out of a gay/lesbian bar even today. we need to be safe. now as to if it is right to stop someone from showing affection in a gay bar who is straight, i don't like it, but i understand it.

    on another point, in Chicago there has been a bit of a controversy on 'bachelorette' parties that will pop up in gay bars, though there are a couple of impersonator bars that will cater to them. a lot of men are offended; a lot of the women are obnoxious drunks at the same time.

    @Lucrece, i've run into the point you make about lesbian bars but was fortunate. i was a bartender at one of the male bars and was easily accepted and could walk in the door. my friends, on the other hand would not go in with me.

    i also think that rather than a legal question, the situation in the article is really more of a cultural one.

    Posted by: mike/ | May 5, 2012 3:34:41 PM

  5. "Lesbian bars and women only events are both discriminatory. As a events that try to maintain a majority of black members."

    So is being attracted to men instead of women. You discriminate by class, by interests, by social goals who you associate with all the time, and yet people wanting to have safe havens to socialize and date their own people without the event being eclipsed by somebody else is an awful goal to have.

    Posted by: Lucrece | May 5, 2012 3:36:04 PM

  6. This is ludicrous... Of course it is discrimination! It is totally wrong to ban straight people from kissing in a gay bar.

    Posted by: JP | May 5, 2012 3:50:47 PM

  7. It's a gay bar not a straight bar. The owners have every right to enforce these rules. How many straight bars would allow a gay couple to kiss?

    Posted by: Markus Taylor | May 5, 2012 4:01:19 PM

  8. How some people try to defend discrimination of any kind boggles my mind. If a gay couple was told to leave a straight bar just for kissing, all of us would (understandably) be upset. But since, this time, it's the other way around it's somehow alright? People should be allowed to kiss whoever and wherever they want, be it a gay kiss or a straight one.

    Posted by: Chris K | May 5, 2012 4:09:16 PM

  9. "How some people try to defend discrimination of any kind boggles my mind. If a gay couple was told to leave a straight bar just for kissing, all of us would (understandably) be upset. But since, this time, it's the other way around it's somehow alright? People should be allowed to kiss whoever and wherever they want, be it a gay kiss or a straight one/"

    The owner of straight bars already do it, and if they don't do it then the patrons make the environment hostile enough so gay couples can consistently be afraid enough so as to not express public affection in straight bars.

    Posted by: Lucrece | May 5, 2012 4:17:03 PM

  10. @Lucrece: Straight bars do it, so gay bars should do it as well? When has "retaliation" ever lead to anything positive?

    Posted by: Chris K | May 5, 2012 4:28:23 PM

  11. "The owner of straight bars already do it, and if they don't do it then the patrons make the environment hostile enough so gay couples can consistently be afraid enough so as to not express public affection in straight bars."

    So gay bar staff should be as bigoted as so-called 'straight' bar staff?

    "Pretty much every straight bar? Straight bars may not say "no gays", but they have a de facto ban on gay people for the most part via social enforcement."

    I'm sorry, but this is patent nonsense. I've been to Copenhagen enough to sample most of its nightlife, and it's been a consistently welcoming one. And I have been in many so-called 'straight' venues where I have kissed another man without anyone - staff or other patrons - saying a damn word.

    That's not a universal experience, I realize. But it does exist, and it's something to encourage, rather than trying to enforce ghettoization by regulating conduct of certain classes of people but not others.

    Posted by: Nat | May 5, 2012 4:29:09 PM

  12. It is an interesting argument...
    should there be "gay only" spaces?

    should there be "straight only"

    should there be "men only" spaces?

    "women only"? "black only"? "latino only"?

    there are Women Only gyms, clubs, and organizations. Why not male only?

    if we allow one group to have an "only like us" space, then why shouldn't the others get one too? the Boy Scouts are a prime example that straight only spaces exist but we gays certainly rail against that.

    you can argue that historically males and straights have had the upper hand and that gays and women are often discriminated against in some of those places, and you would be correct... but on the other hand, since we are ostensibly fighting for equal rights and treatment, don't we have an obligation to treat others equally?

    I, for one, am not fond of all the straight girls (and bachelorette parties) that descend on so called "mens bars". Frankly if you want a girls night out, go to a women's bar.

    Some of the generalizations are based in fact. Often the girls get loud, obnoxious, demanding and aggressive in gay male spaces.

    often so called gay friendly straights act like they are in a petting zoo or will get their "see I'm hip" merit badge for gawking in a gay bar. Often the (younger) straight males hanging out in gay bars are there to cage free drinks, roll gays, or generally cause trouble.

    That said, more and more, gays are becoming relaxed in straight some cases too relaxed.

    While we generally don't have the numbers to dominate the clientele at a straight venue, some of us are certainly militantly in our PDA in those places. I can certainly see why some straights in the face of militant PDA might be offended.

    does a minority status entitle us to "special rights" in terms of gay only spaces? if you argue yes then you play in to the religious rights claim that we demand special treatment and privileges... unless of course we allow, without protest, straight only spaces.

    In the bottom of my heart I do believe that gay male bars and lesbian bars should be able to limit the "straight" influx and gawking if the owner desires it,,,, I just hate that if I went in to a straight bar there would be a NO GAYS ALLOWED signs and enforcement was legal.

    Posted by: mikenola | May 5, 2012 4:29:55 PM

  13. Another disgusting article that bemoans the fact that priviliged white male heterosexuals (and bisexual scumbags) can't control absolutely everything. This Jobbe creep should mind his own business and take advantage of the fact that because of his status he does not have to worry about being beaten, abused, assaulted (verbally and physically)and go to all the places where gays would be banned. Honestly where do these ppl get off?

    Posted by: Molc | May 5, 2012 4:31:38 PM

  14. I'm going to have to remember to cross-reference the list of people supporting this bigotry with whoever posts in the next 'gay couple kicked out X establishment for showing affection.'

    Newsflash: being an oppressed minority doesn't make entitle you to bigotry.

    Posted by: Nat | May 5, 2012 4:39:15 PM

  15. I have to admit, my initial reaction was.. "turn about is fair play" .. but then I came to my senses and realized.. it is discrimination; the same kind of discrimination that, as Chris K. mentioned, would get us all in a tizzy if it were gays being told they couldn't kiss in a straight club.

    To have this sort of "policy" is 'understandable' from the "turn about is fair play" mentality.. but do we really want to alienate those straights that see us as equals? I could even see a case-by-case basis, where if you *did* have a straight (or even a gay) couple acting out they could ask them to tone it down, or leave.

    Come on people.. we gotta let go of the anger and hate.. in situations where it isn't warranted. Save that anger for people that deserve it... Like those pushing Amendment One.. Rick Santorum and his ilk... etc., etc...

    Peace people... Peace

    Posted by: theotherlee | May 5, 2012 4:40:50 PM

  16. This isn't "only those who are like us" discrimination, it's "only those who are here for the same thing that we're here for" discrimination.

    Would the owner of a singles' bar allow an influx of couples?

    To blast this simply as an act of discrimination is willfully ignoring that important nuance.

    It might be wrong (legally or ethically) to ask them to leave, but I wish everyone would recognize that straight people in a gay bar make it harder for the gay people to find each other. Going back to my singles' bar analogy, it would probably be obvious to everyone that couples in the bar are inconveniencing the singles.

    Posted by: joe | May 5, 2012 4:41:24 PM

  17. I think we've all seen this happen in gay venues and ghettos.
    Because nearly every straight bar in town has at least some prejudiced and/or violent yahoos in attendance, we stake out our own place and have that one (or a limited number of) venue(s) where we can have a safe and enjoyable time with our friends.

    The most happening gay club in town becomes the edgy and fun place for some of the more open-minded straight people to go to. Then they bring more of their own straight friends and soon it's not a gay bar, it's 50/50. As a few people who have no respect for gay people begin to show up, what was developed as a gay space eventually drives the gays out.
    The same thing happens in gay ghettos when they get gentrified and attract a wider crowd that eventually results in increases in anti-gay assaults.

    Straight people should be more than welcome in any gay space as far as I'm concerned. But come on, straight people, participate in the spirit of the place. Let it be your "bizarro world" experience, if you will.
    If you want to seem "unavailable," don't do it by hanging all over your opposite-sex partner or getting angry if someone wants to buy you a drink. Walk in holding hands with a same-sex friend and dance with that person. Blend in.

    I could compare it to one of those restaurants staffed by blind people where there are no lights. If I go there, I want to experience life from the other side. I don't walk in and insist on plugging in a lamp so it can feel more like every other restaurant in town.
    If you go to the only traditional Japanese restaurant in town, sit on the tatami mat, use chopsticks and listen to the Japanese music; don't bring lawn chairs, forks and bring in your own heavy metal CD just to broadcast to all the other patrons how un-Japanese you are.

    Posted by: GregV | May 5, 2012 4:44:54 PM

  18. Poor oppressed hets! The rest of the world is not enough for their sense of entitlement. They have to make their presence known and domination felt in all domains at their disposal.

    Posted by: carl | May 5, 2012 4:50:06 PM

  19. People need to realize that discrimination is not always a negative thing. Discrimination occurs on every single level of society, from clubs that allow only a specific race/sex so as to foster an environment of equality and respect, all the way to passing bills that ostracize minorities.

    It is not always a "horrible" thing and in this case, minorities are absolutely entitled to their own safe spaces where they can socialize and be the main voice.

    Posted by: Stuart | May 5, 2012 4:50:49 PM

  20. And by "clubs", I am referring to shared activities (computers, literary, etc...).

    Posted by: Stuart | May 5, 2012 4:51:47 PM

  21. While the behavior of some straight people in gay settings has at times made me uncomfortable for the various reasons people have mentioned (e.g., NYC's Gaiety strip joint was ruined for me when the publicity Madonna gave it brought in all the tourists), having blanket rules against heterosexuality at gay commercial establishments strikes me as totally wrong. A bar's simple straights-can't-kiss rule, for example, doesn't distinguish between a mixed-sex couple having a simple kiss and a couple who, for whatever reason (heterosexual panic, exhibitionism, etc.) are wildly sucking face in everyone else's face. I agree with Atomic's proposal which, if I understand it correctly, is for gay bars to have clear standards of acceptable conduct that apply to all. Ditto for straight bars.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | May 5, 2012 5:01:52 PM

  22. Discrimination is always wrong. Besides, this is freaking Copenhagen, nobody cares about two guys kissing!

    Posted by: Winston | May 5, 2012 5:19:30 PM

  23. Umm, just to put some wood on the fire (and not really to express my opinion on the matter, because I can see pros and cons of both arguments and DO understand the need for a "safe" environment as well as the idiocy of discrimination)...

    I understand both sides, as long as we're talking about generic/themeless bars, even though I'm not really sure I understand the need for heteros to come into a place where they become the minority.

    But where's the line? Should all hetero and homo bars be watered down to accept everyone regardless? Is the last place we can both be gay and proud and gayer than during the week on the internet (face it, as a professional I act as nonsexual and professional as possible during the week, but hell, do I get my "gay" on during the weekends!)? - Should hetero couples be allowed to use "our" saunas or leather clubs and that's just fine?

    Where is the line?

    Posted by: grggmrtn | May 5, 2012 5:41:55 PM

  24. Like most, I am torn on this issue. I don't think discrimination is a good thing in general, but having said that, I am getting really sick and tired of the large gaggles of straight girls who invade gay bars with the seeming intention to take the place over, get shitfaced, and behave inappropriately because they think they can get away with it. I realize that they must feel liberated in a gay bar without straight men chasing them, but quite frankly, their liberation is displacing ours. I came out in the late 80s when you never saw straight people in gay bars, so I realize I am old school in the regard that I like my gay bars gay. I have no issue with "faghags" and other straights who go with their gay friends to socialize - that is not the problem. It is the ones (mostly large groups of girls) that come in with no connection to the people there and a sense of entitlement to behave like the gay bar in question is their personal bourbon street. If I were a bar owner, I wouldn't go for an all-out ban, but I do think I would reserve the right to throw out groups (especially bachelorette parties) that disrupt the experience for the gay patrons.

    Posted by: Castro Craig | May 5, 2012 6:00:20 PM

  25. Why are we talking about this issue in "discrimination" terms ?

    I want to feel I'm with my own kind in a gay bar........
    Often I now feel that I'm in a zoo, and the straights have come to see us.

    Our bars are really different spaces.....there's no comparison with us going to a straight bar.........there's just no equivalance.
    We don't go to watch the animals, or declaim how 'cool'we are, and for years all the straights wouldn't be seen dead at a homo we are expected to welcome them with open arms? I think not !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 5, 2012 6:21:53 PM

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