Friday night, just over a week ago, a straight couple was banned from kissing in the gay bar Never Mind in Copenhagen and a subsequent discussion with the bouncer regarding the straight kiss meant eviction for the guests and their friends.
23. april 2012
One of the guests was Jobbe Joller, the founder of the LGBT organization “Homosocialt Fællesskab”. Jobbe states that the evening started out great for himself and his gay friend Martin, who 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,” Jobbe Joller continues who also doesn’t hide the fact that he too was pretty angry and spoke in a harsh tone.
“I told him in a very serious tone that what they had going on was sick, and that LGBT people across Denmark struggled for acceptance and equal rights for all, while Never Mind fought against it. The discussion evolved into a quarrel in which I told him at one point that he was crazy and the most arrogant fool I had ever met. Then I was told that as per Penal Code section 3, I was no longer welcome in Never Mind. It was fine by me and I picked up my things and left the place while I told him how ridiculous it was. Another bouncer tried to pull me aside and explain something to me, but I chose not to listen to him and walked away.”
Thought it was a joke
Mathilde Karlsen Hansen, Jobbe’s friend and the woman who was asked to refrain from kissing her boyfriend, was both surprised and offended by the incident.
“When the doorman told me not to kiss with my boyfriend, I frankly thought that it was a joke. I, however, soon realized that this was not the case. Given that I was far from being the only girl who had kissed a guy in the bar that night, I felt really unfairly treated. I was obviously the only one who was told that my kissing may be offensive to the homosexual guests, which really surprised me a lot. In an attempt to get a sensible explanation of the whole situation, I was greeted by a doorman referring to different legal paragraphs and a statement from the bar’s owner that “I could just take him to court”. I was frankly feeling a bit like a criminal, which is a really unpleasant feeling when the only thing I did was to kiss a guy that I love. So much for love,” says Mathilde to Homotropolis.
Martin Andersen, who is gay and was hanging out with the rest of the group this evening also doesn’t understand the way Never Mind handled the situation.
“Before we left we got to talk to the owner who confirmed that this is their policy. We are discussing this back and forth, and the last thing he asks my friend before we go is why she is even there to begin with? She explains again that she is just out with her friends, but he suggests that we go out separately. What is the logic in that? ” Asks Martin Andersen, who also mentions that he had kissed and touched his female friend earlier that evening without any problems and says that the reason for that is probably because they know he is gay.
Straight guys are the biggest problem
Jobbe Joller subsequently sent an email to Never Mind, where he among other things, states his lack of understanding of how one can expect that homosexuals should be accepted in straight places if straight people are not accepted in gay places.
Never Mind got back to him the following Saturday in an email stating that “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”. The email is signed Christian Carlsen, owner of Never Mind, and we have asked him to elaborate on the bar’s attitude towards heterosexual guests:
“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”, Christian Carlsen said, who in particular highlights straight guys as being the most problematic guests.
“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. And it is still the case that it is not really possible to go out and meet other homosexual people in straight places and that it often ends up being a bad experience if you are gay”, explains Never Mind’s owner, who also stands firm on Friday night’s decision to evict Jobbe Joller and his friends from his bar.
»For this particular case, I can only say that their behavior was typical of that for heterosexuals, and their behavior towards our security system was not acceptable, so they were asked to find another bar,” says Christian Carlsen, however, while stressing that no one has been quarantined permanently from Never Mind because of this weekend’s episode, and that Jobbe Joller, despite the bouncer’s statement, is still welcome – even with his straight friends.
Does not share the same view
Jobbe Joller who in this case comments as a private person continues to disagree with Never Mind’s policy when it comes to straight guests:
“I personally do not share the same view on this matter as some places do, where people are expected to repress their sexuality. We are after all living on the same planet and simply need to be able to co-exist and accept that we are different, which in turn results in the fact that we feel like kissing different people. Some prefer persons of the same sex, some of the opposite and some both,” Jobbe Joller states, who also finds it both annoying and hypocritical that the gay community is not willing to accept heterosexuals’ presence on equal terms in the gay nightlife.
“The LGBT community demands that we have the same rights as anyone else living in this country, and here I find it problematic that we exclude the very same people from our great and diverse community who we demand recognize our presence and give us equal rights “says Jobbe, who also mentions that this debate has been ongoing in the gay community for some time:
“Especially Cosy Bar (another gay bar in Copenhagen) has experienced that homosexual people have stood in line outside, while the place was packed with straight people, and this is obviously a paradox. However, I can only reflect on my own experience where we were six friends with mixed sexualities, who happened to go out on a Friday evening to a gay place and I think that there should be room for that – just as I believe that there should be room for LGBTs to go out to straight places with their straight friends.”
And Jobbe’s friend, Mathilde, tells us that she never had any intentions of behaving in an inappropriate manner and that the essence of it all is to basically just be able to go out and party with your friends – regardless of sexuality.
“It’s important for me to make it clear that our kiss was in no way a deliberate attempt to provoke anyone present that night, and when we were told to stop, we stopped immediately. I think it’s a shame that a place like Never Mind want to exclude me from being able to party with my friends because of our different sexual orientation. As a straight girl in a gay place, I try not to acquire or convert something – I just really like Copenhagen’s gay scene and enjoy partying with my gay friends on the same terms as other people,” Mathilde Karlsen Hansen says.
Jobbe is a bit astonished about the harsh tone coming from both sides of the debate, but stands firm on his beliefs that the gay community must be open and accepting towards heterosexual friends.
“Personally I am of course sorry that both the doorman and I spoke as we did in our quarrel, which became far more heated than I ever intended. In return, we’re all just human and when you have strong opinions about the fact that we are all equal regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and political standpoint, then the waters can run high, which I on my part am sorry about,” concludes Jobbe Joller.
Different attitudes towards straight people in the gay community
Attitudes towards straight people in the gay community differ from place to place and from owner to owner, and therefore we have also contacted Thomas Rose from the gay night club Club Christopher in Knabrostræde, Copenhagen, to hear what their policies are in this matter.
“We at Club Christopher have nothing against straight people, however, we expect that they “play on our terms” – and that they are a part of the festive atmosphere that is often found in gay parties. You do not just come to a gay club and sit in the corner to “watch the show.” Furthermore, as a straight guest, one must accept to be hit on by people of the same sex as themselves, and tackle it in an orderly and courteous manner”, explains Thomas from Club Christopher, who also does not want to differentiate between what straights and gays can and can not do.
“We say that “rules” apply to everyone – straight or gay. And therefore straights have the same rights as gays – that means that they can kiss and do whatever else they can think of. At Club Christopher, we have no wish to exclude heterosexuals as long as they know what kind of a party they are attending – respect it and join the party,” Thomas Rose says.
Martin Andersen hopes that a better solution in this matter can be found and that Never Mind choose to change their policy in the future.
“As homosexuals we fight every day to be respected and accepted on equal terms as everyone else, and I certainly don’t believe that this attitude is the way forward,” Martin Andersen states.
Christian Carlsen from Never Mind states, moreover, in his response to Homotropolis that straight people are allowed to hold hands, but no kissing, sexual touching or hanging from the stripper pole is tolerated.
Photo: Tony Blay