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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. Spin it Castro: this is a slam dunk,its ugly discrimination and just plain wrong. If you don't have an inner sense of what is fair, there is nothing I can do to enlighten you.

    Posted by: jack | May 6, 2012 7:31:03 PM

  2. @Jack
    Keep sticking up for what is fair. Even if we don't agree on what is fair, we completely agree that being fair is very important. I totally respect you for that.

    Posted by: NullNaught | May 6, 2012 9:25:44 PM

  3. Jack is a belligerent jerk and totally wrong. You can believe whatever you want to believe but there is still a real world out there where your opinions don't mean anything. In order to maintain gay establishments discrimination has to occur otherwise heterosexuals take over and it becomes a hostile place for gay people.

    Posted by: Bill | May 7, 2012 2:47:05 AM

  4. I agree with Jack, but I wonder if there isn't some miscommunication going on about who is advocating what. A couple people said something like "I don't think straight people should be banned, but I disagree with Jack because I want gay bars to be mostly gay." Please correct me if I'm mistaken, Jack, but isn't the thrust of your point simply that banning straight people is discriminatory and wrong? So to those who agree that straight people should not be banned, what exactly do you disagree with Jack about?

    And I find the argument about assuming straight people in gay bars are going to be homophobic absurd for two reasons. 1) The notion that a "majority" of straight people are homophobic is questionable at best. Denmark is a very gay-friendly country, and even in the US, more than 50% of people now support marriage equality. We have a long ways to go, but to suggest any given random person is likely to be a homophobe is dubious. It's not 1982; it's 2012. 2) Even if a random straight person were likely to be homophobic, straight people who might want to go to a gay bar are not a randomly-selected group, they are a self-selected group. They are straight people who chose to go to a gay bar. So the percentage of straight people overall who are homophobic is irrelevant; what matters is what the straight people are like who choose to go to gay bars. Engage in all the paranoid speculation you want, but how often do you *actually* run into raging homophobes at gay bars? Where are all these straight people who are being "hostile" to gay people *in gay bars*? Yeah, I'm speaking from my experience, but I'm also speaking from common sense, and I don't see people providing a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    Moreover, I think Jack's comparison to the way haters stereotype gays based on AIDS, etc. is very apt. Not only is it apt because the notion that a majority of gay people have AIDS is just as incorrect as the notion that a majority of straight people are homophobic, but because even if it *were* true, punishing someone because of a statistic regarding a group they belong to is wrong. It may be mathematically true that the given individual is more likely than not to fit the stereotype, but absent actual verification they are not part of the other 49%, discriminating against that person isn't fair to them. Or do you like it when people use stereotypes about gay people as an excuse to treat you poorly?

    This whole "gays versus straights" mentality that a lot of commenters are displaying is juvenille and ridiculous. Gay people aren't a monolith. Straight people aren't a monolith. Suggesting that it's wrong to discriminate in the respect and kindness you show for people is *not* like suggesting that it's wrong to discriminate in the sex of the people you sleep with. Yes, it's important for us to have safe spaces, and I even agree there are important purposes for majority-gay spaces, but the only way you can claim outright *banning* straight people or opposite-sex PDA (which is NOT JUST FOR STRAIGHT PEOPLE) is necessary to create a safe space -- not an annoyance-free space, which merely necessitates kicking out people of any orientation who get unruly when drunk, but a *safe* space -- is to make completely unwarranted assumptions about the sort of straight people who go to gay bars.

    Posted by: Carrie | May 7, 2012 6:41:21 AM

  5. I should clarify, just in case it's ambiguous, that having AIDS is not an example of something that merits treating someone in any negative way whether it's based on assumption or reality or anything else.

    Posted by: Carrie | May 7, 2012 6:49:13 AM

  6. Wow, sad. From the comments I have learned that two wrongs make a right. Everyone is fine as long as we all get to discriminate each other? So what happens when straight people stop going to the bar? Do you have to go get straight people to put in the bar, just to discriminate against them?

    Fairness is an illusion, this is discrimination pure and simple. Shame on anyone who supports this and has been discriminated against, shame on you for learning NOTHING.

    Posted by: Fenrox | May 7, 2012 11:28:36 AM

  7. It's disheartening to read some of the comments posted; they serve as a stark reminder of how far we are from the goal of equality. Banning anyone from an establishment on the basis of his/her sexual orientation is prima facie discrimination. Have we as a gay community become so balkanized ourselves that we are blind to this? In our struggle for undiminished rights as full-fledged citizens of this country, we should least of all be condoning practices which would eclipse the rights of others. By ceding the moral high ground, we would be no better than the likes of Jesse Helms and his progeny in NC, as an example.

    Echoing what someone else has suggested above already, cases of inappropriate behavior should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Surely, as patrons of gay bars, we can all agree that getting drunk and engaging in rowdy behavior is not the exclusive domain of straights.

    Posted by: midnightsnack | May 7, 2012 1:10:24 PM

  8. As a straight person I never said to myself: Well, I'll go to a gay bar because I want to gawk at the freak show, like some have said. I never went to a gay bar alone. It was always reciprocity.

    If I forced my gay friends to come with me to a predominantly straight bar where they would sometimes feel left out or uncomfortable then I should go with them to a places where they felt at home and myself an outsider. I always thought that was what friends do for each other.

    I think, though, that SATC certainly produced a strange "gay accessory" thing and I do see it and always thought that was demeaning and awful...but I don't think that's the larger group of women going to gay bars.

    I would go if invited, for example, when my friend was spinning he'd ask me to come out and support him, or I'd go if I forced another friend to go with me to a sports bar to watch hockey.

    All off this aside, I don't think that straight people should go to gay bars and make out. I'm sort of a prude about people going to public places to make out in general.

    Romantic kisses under street lamps are one thing, groping is best done at home. Now, I don't know if that's what these straights were doing, but...maybe it was?

    Posted by: Rin | May 7, 2012 1:35:50 PM

  9. What is the point of the bar's existence?

    Clearly, it is a place to socialize with people who share your interests. But we need to be specific: What are those interests? One of the things that happens in a bar is meeting new people for potential intimate connections. I'm not saying you're going to have sex immediately, but a "singles' bar" has the point of its existence being a social place to meet people you might be interested in.

    That means the straights and the gays need to leave each other alone. It is inappropriate to enter such a place when you know you'll be saying no to everyone who tries to engage you in the activity for which the bar exists in the first place. "I just wanna dance!" is not enough of a reason.

    This hardly means you are expected to engage with any random person who comes along. After all, nobody is attracted to everybody and you have the right to not do anything you don't want to do. But if you aren't even amenable to the idea, then what on earth are you doing here? If all you wanna do is dance, go to a dance club. "But the music's better here!" Then talk to the people at the dance club about improving their selections. You don't invade a space just because you like the secondary characteristics. You'll be destroying it.

    So the real question is: What is the point behind Never Mind? Is it just a club? Or is the very point to provide a social space specially for gay men to meet other gay men? If it's the latter, it isn't discrimination to point out to the women and the straight men: This is not the establishment for you.

    And that certainly applies across the aisle: A straight, singles' bar is no place for gay people. The people are there for a reason and you're not amenable to that reason. So why are you going?

    Posted by: Rrhain | May 7, 2012 7:17:48 PM

  10. I'm all for gays and gay marriage but this is stupid. More and more in eg DC we have str8 people attending pride, coming to gay bars etc etc.

    BTW I will be in Copenhagen in August to celebrate Marriage for their gay people.

    Posted by: stanJames | May 21, 2012 3:43:04 AM

  11. As a gay man, I would like a bar that I can go to where I don't have a bunch of fag hags that want to be my friend just because I'm gay. I like women. I used to date women. I don't get some women, or straight men for that matter, fascination with gay bars. For the most part, I don't like gay bars with how they are set up and thought of doing one myself for guys that like being guys who happen to be gay. If you want women to have a night in the bar, make one night hag night and that is the only night that straight people are allowed in. It's one thing to have inclusion for everyone but there is a great feeling when you have that one place as a man that you can go and just be yourself and not have to worry about some straight girl needing attention or some straight couple making cheers seeing to men kiss. I don't do it to you in straight bars.

    Posted by: Brick | Jun 24, 2013 1:00:13 PM

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