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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. The political context is important - this provocation could have waited until after the marriage equality legislation was enacted.
    "Denmark's government announced a proposal on March 13, 2012, that would legalize same-sex marriages in the country, beginning on June 15 of this year."

    The case-by-case objectionable behavior approach suggested above would get my vote. Hetero-kissing alone shouldn't be objectionable.

    Posted by: Hue-Man | May 5, 2012 6:46:13 PM

  2. I don't mind straight people, as long as they act gay.

    Posted by: TooBoot | May 5, 2012 7:17:28 PM

  3. Too many straights coming into a gay bar [because, you know, those gays are edgy and stuff, and being str8 but going to a gay club/bar is just cool] is a problem. After a certain point a lot of gays, especially gay men, get uncomfortable. Alcohol doesn't help.

    My impression has always been a good percentage of str8s really go to gay places just to gawk and laugh at gay men.

    I use to go to lesbian bars as teenager [before I came out] with another guy and a lesbian girl I worked with. No one was rude, but many were cool to our [2 guys] presence. I understand why now.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 5, 2012 7:28:03 PM

  4. I suppose this can be interpreted as progress, but a few sentences in: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Posted by: ByTheBay | May 5, 2012 8:03:58 PM

  5. I think it's interesting that this problem (if that's what it is) doesn't seem to arise as between gays and lesbians.
    Lesbians keep to their favourite places and so do we.

    The issue only arises when straights intrude into our essentially private social worlds.
    and I don't see that they have any social necessity to do so....there are lots of straight bars.......we have few gay bars , therefore we sometimes have no choice but to go to straight bars.
    And the "let's go watch the gays" is a real sentiment and an offensive one.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 5, 2012 8:08:36 PM

  6. Honestly, I'm amazed at a lot of the people defending this absolute nonsense. It's not right, and it's sickening.

    There's nothing to be torn about. If we complain when others do it to us, we cannot turn around and do it to others. It really is that simple.

    Posted by: Jack | May 5, 2012 8:52:16 PM

  7. Heterosexual males are a menace. Heterosexual males are hostile beings. Whenever heterosexual males enter the picture the environment because ripe for physical and verbal attacks. I don't want to be near them. I want to be in friendly, relaxed places.

    Posted by: Bill | May 5, 2012 8:55:46 PM

  8. W T F

    is this even real

    you have got to be kidding me. there is no non-ridiculous way to defend this.

    Posted by: nico | May 5, 2012 9:36:16 PM

  9. Mr. Towle, while the phrase you quoted was written by another blogger, why in the 21st century does Towelroad think the word "faghags" is acceptable? Hateful, old school, unenlightened awful term that the community should have left behind with the last century. There has to be a better way to describe women who have gay male friends.

    Posted by: Contrarian | May 5, 2012 9:37:43 PM

  10. I don't H8STR8S any more, but straight people have many places of their own, and it is just insensitive arrogance to come into a gay bar and shove their heterosexuality in our faces. In many straight establishments, it is not only frowned upon but physically dangerous for two guys to display affection. Let us have a place we can feel safe.
    Why would straight girls want to come into our places, other than to gawk? It is really absurd to see people attacking this policy as discrimination. Discrimintation exists, and for a good reason in this case. Straight guys are a straight menace. It is just plain evil to say we can't protect ourselves by excluding drunk frat. boys who are there only to start a fight. Which is the only reason a straight guy goes into a gay bar.
    O.K., so maybe I have some residual hate for straight guys. They are still dangerous to be around especially when drunk.

    Posted by: NullNaught | May 5, 2012 9:42:37 PM

  11. Some of us have to deal with homophobic people all day during our work week. We have to edit out all sorts of tell-tale details about our day-to-day life during conversation, avoid using the third person pronoun that denotes sex, the list goes on.

    I want to go a gay bar at times, be amongst my own people, eye a cute guy and know there's a good chance he's eyeing me too. Because that's often times the only safe space to do. It's liberating and it's a space we have won for ourselves.

    I'm sorry, but I don't see what straight males have lost at gay clubs. And for them to shout discrimination is laughable. Straight, white men have always been at the giving end of discrimination. Everybody else has had to suffer. They don't know what it means to be discriminated against by society at large.

    Posted by: Keith | May 5, 2012 9:48:41 PM

  12. @Contrarian: You really need to loosen up. Faghag is not hateful nor awful - you must remember that intent is important in any term. If I refer to you as a fag, being one myself, I doubt you would get offended (unless you have some unresolved issues) because you know I don't use it pejoratively. Likewise, "faghag", which may be "old school" (a matter of perspective - I'm in my 40s), is used with affection among my friends. If you need evidence, please check out Suzan Revah's website

    I find that people that don't live in places like SF or NY tend to be most sensitive to terms like "faghag", "rice queen", etc., possibly because these terms are used as cutdowns elsewhere. Here in SF, we don't really worry about being so politically correct.

    Posted by: Casto Craig | May 5, 2012 9:59:05 PM

  13. @Nullnaught: "To start a fight" is definitely NOT the only reason a straight guy goes into a gay club. I went into a gay bar with a straight guy last week, and it was because he wanted a beer. I know another straight guy who goes into gay bars because he has a great body and loves attention, and he can get away with dancing without his shirt on a podium at the gay club. Yet another straight guy went on a road trip with me and my partner last weekend and we went to a lot of gay clubs together. He says he finds an atmosphere of gay nightclubs fun and an atmosphere of drunk straight guys annoying.
    Yet another straight guy took me to my first gay club when I first came out, because he felt like he'd been my wingman for long enough and he wanted to help ME find dates (which was hard then because all my friends were straight).

    I've seen a lot of straight guys in gay clubs, and I've never seen violence inside one. Your statement is a gross generalization.

    Posted by: GregV | May 5, 2012 10:01:26 PM

  14. Typical hypocrisy and discrimination from gay men or the LGBT community.

    Not surprising.

    Gay men and LGBT people who are for this are hetero-phobic and just as hypocritical as people who are against LGBT people like Rick Santorum and the Bachmanns. Also it reeks of the pointless LGBT/gay ghetto mentality from the 70s that did nothing to help GLBT people at large both socially or politically.

    Posted by: Seattlequeer | May 5, 2012 10:07:36 PM

  15. Seattlequeer wrote, "Gay men and LGBT people who are for this are hetero-phobic and just as hypocritical as people who are against LGBT people like Rick Santorum and the Bachmanns."

    Now you are being ridiculous with these false equivalencies. Nobody is saying that straight people shouldn't have rights (which is what Bachmann et al are saying about gays). We are simply saying that we prefer our gay bars gay. I am not saying straights should be banned, but we don't think that gay bars should be overrun by drunk straight girls to the point that they are no longer gay. It is a matter of balance.

    Posted by: Castro Craig | May 5, 2012 10:33:40 PM

  16. @Gregv
    There may be some straight men who come into gay bars not looking for a fight. That doesn't make their presence o.k. Do we not have a right to a place we can feel safe and unviolated by their pesence? Do you think that gay men who have bad experiences with straight men deserve to have a place where we can breath easy away from straight guys? Don't you think we have at least the right for our own bars? Do they really need to arrogantly come amongst us in our place of refuge and display their heterosexuality? It is not a question of whether these particular straight guys are currently causing trouble, is it? It's a question of privacy and feeling safe. That is feeling safe, not just accepting your judgement that your straight friends are safe, but indeed not to have to worry about that at all. Straight guys scare many of us. Don't we deserve a place we can relax?
    Also, are you sure your gaydar is functioning at all. Your "straight" friends sound very faggy. I wonder if you have never seen trouble from straight guys in gay bars because you think guys are straight when they are not.
    Also, how rude of you to bring straight men into a gay bar; have no sensitivity?

    Posted by: NullNaught | May 5, 2012 10:42:14 PM

  17. As with most every situation in life, context is everything. The desire for equality is not to be conflated with the need to include EVERY segment of society in ALL our activities. We don't go around accusing gay men of being discriminatory because they don't date or have sex with women. We don't invite women into our bedrooms, so why should we invite them to bars when the purpose is to socialize and meet other men? Is the exclusion of straight society hypocritical in that context?

    On the one hand, it is a testament to the strides we have taken that straights even find it desirable to patronize gay establishments. But on the other hand, that also means they are GUESTS of our culture. Same thing with pride parades--they are welcome to celebrate with us, but when it becomes about THEM, that's when a line is crossed. By virtue of their sheer number, straights have their own culture that we gays don't necessarily have to assimilate in order to achieve full equality. The same is true of ethnic cultures--we seem to have no problem with the idea of preserving ethnic traditions and values and allowing them to have their space to celebrate them.

    We don't know the whole story. The objections we hear from the bar patron paint a one-sided picture because we don't really know how he and his guests behaved that night. We also don't know what the security situation is at that bar. We don't have a context, just an argument between two parties that is being aired online. But what I do know, is that in my experience, the presence of straight drunk people in a gay bar is very often annoying not because they're straight, but because they are frequently behaving in an extremely OBNOXIOUS manner. They act out in ways that seem to reflect this idea that a gay bar is an overtly sexual place to do things you can't do in a straight bar. It's disingenuous and naive to say that simply having straight people who want to be seen at a gay bar is a sign of solidarity and support and we should be grateful for that. As I said earlier, they need to be educated that they are GUESTS of OUR CULTURE and they should behave accordingly. It cuts both ways. Boorishness is boorishness no matter if you are gay or straight, no matter if you go to a gay bar or straight bar. If you are discreet and respectful, you should be fine. That's why the matter comes down to a case-by-case basis. It's just another burden that bar managers need to tolerate as part of doing business.

    Posted by: atomic | May 5, 2012 10:55:48 PM

  18. Shocking, there are gay assholes in the world.

    Posted by: jack | May 5, 2012 11:55:08 PM

  19. I'm surprised no one has pointed this out, but heterosexuals aren't the only ones who kiss people of another sex, so it's incorrect to assume those people are throwing their "heterosexuality" in your face or wasting space at the bar by not being sexable enough. The person you see kiss a differently-junked person may well have come to the bar because they are bisexual, and they may be perfectly receptive to you coming up and hitting on them.

    And if they aren't, so what? What would a guy who's not just homophobic, but *violently homophobic* be doing in a gay bar? The only straight guys I know who go to gay bars do it because they enjoy socializing with their gay friends or drinking appletinis without being judged (and the one commenter's suggestion that this means they are secretly gay is ridiculous stereotyping that just reinforces straight guy's complexes about acting macho). If a guy is dumb enough not to understand that getting hit on by gay guys at a *gay bar* is par for the course and reacts inappropriately, the bar can kick that guy out. But I've never seen that happen in a gay bar and I imagine it would be even more unusual in gay-friendly Denmark. So the worst thing that happens is the guy politely turns you down and you move on to someone else. The horror!

    Posted by: Carrie | May 6, 2012 12:45:57 AM

  20. There is an unusual influx of Guatamalen and Ecuadorian men here in my small southern town, perhaps attracted to the jobs at the surrounding furniture industry.

    They can't go to the straight/white/frat boy bars downtown because they get beat up. So oddly, they come to the only gay bar here in town. It creates quite a stir, some of them are quite hot and attractive. They rebuke the advances of the boys and hit on the women...who are of course, lesbians - and then they get beat up. Go figure.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | May 6, 2012 12:50:45 AM

  21. It's funny how we can become as "straightofobic" as they are homophobic. And it's shameful too. I can see three scenarios here:
    1) Denmark: Ages ahead in terms of gay rights respect and recognition. It sounded to me that for the owner it was more an issue of business than morals or anything else. And I think in an environment as open as Denmark is this probably will not be seen as an act of intolerance. Now, back to America...
    2) US: here the issue is TOTALLY different. We are fighting and demanding equal rights and equal obligations as straight people has been granted for years. I think it would be senseless to have a "only gay" or similar policy. The only thing we would be proving then is that gay are as intolerant as straight people. Even considering that some straight people go to gay places to "watch the gays". Many of them are also our best friends and their girlfriends. Should we seek to ban them to spend time with us and to experience how cool people we can be?? Not me.
    3) I came from South America. Down there, many gays go to straight places "to catch some fish". I wonder, does that happen here too? If it does (and I think it might) then we're no better than those straight men going to gay bars to "watch the gays". Therefore, it only adds to the non-sense of banning straight people at gay places...

    Posted by: ElCid | May 6, 2012 1:19:51 AM

  22. If you have true equality laws like there is in Canada, then you can't pick and choose when they apply.

    Posted by: Randal Oulton | May 6, 2012 2:29:03 AM

  23. I don't like this tit for tat way of thinking. It just fvalidates when straight people do it to gay people.

    Posted by: Alexx | May 6, 2012 3:02:32 AM

  24. Love it - go Denmark - if gals want a friendly environ., bar str8 dudes at your own bars - have a female friendly place where gals can gather w/out being hit on.

    Posted by: Michael | May 6, 2012 3:06:06 AM

  25. I for one am getting tired of all the flaming queens bringing in there fag hangs getting drunk and treating gay bars as if it were some kind of "ooohhh novelty and there living on the edge" Nope if we as gay men and women can't hit on guys in straight bars then they need to go tear it up as it were at there own bars...And these queens need to stop bringing in the FAG HAGGS. I for one wanna go out to my own gay club and know that guys that I hit on are gay and looking for the same thing...

    Posted by: Xzavier | May 6, 2012 4:00:49 AM

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