We’ve seen the fights over anti-discrimination around the world, and recently, we’ve been winning – as can be seen by the court battles in the UK. We saw the lawsuit which pitted partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy against Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who ran a “Christian” Bed & Breakfast and therefore refused to allow the gay couple to share a bed. They claimed that their faith did not allow them to let unmarried couples share the same bed. The “Christian” couple is appealing the case, despite the fact that an unmarried heterosexual couple has come forward claiming that the Bulls never even inquired about their marriage status, making this a clear case of homophobic (and not religious) discrimination.
Now, also out of the UK is the question of discrimination in the other direction. Around the world, there are several “gay-only” businesses, from the UK to Palm Springs to bars in New York – there are many cases of straight people not being allowed into gay establishments. While in the UK, there have been no registered complaints of “straight discrimination,” the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to investigate whether gay-only hotels breach similar laws.
This is a truly double-edged sword. While there are hundreds of gay establishments, there’s also an enormous lack of straight people fighting to get into gay-only establishments. But it happens. A few months ago, a woman approached me at a gay bar in the West Village in NYC, who claimed to have been denied entry into Marie’s Crisis – a piano bar where people belt showtunes, en-masse, at the top of their lungs for the entire evening. While again, I don’t know of a plethora of straight people fighting to get in – it should of course be open to anyone who wants to enter…or should it be?
There are two arguments here – the first – in the interest of true equality – is that anyone who wants to enter any establishment, should be free to do so – this goes for gay bars/straight people as much as it should go for Curves and Lucille Roberts gyms when it comes to gender discrimination.
The second argument is that allowing straight people into gay-only establishments is damaging to the “gay culture.” On top of that – after generations of discrimination, many LGBT people feel inhibited when around the straight community in a way they shouldn’t be made to feel while in a safe environment like a gym, spa or resort.
So, please comment – how do you feel about the fact that gay-only establishments should be made to integrate entirely the same way we are asking anti-gay establishments to allow gay clientele?