Denmark Gay Bar Bans Straight Kissing

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday May 4, 2012

A gay bar in Copenhagen, Denmark, announced it would not allow its straight couples to kiss each other while inside the establishment, Homotropolis reported.

Jobbe Joller, the founder of the LGBT organization Homosocialt Fællesskab, told the newspaper that a bouncer from the Never Mind Bar in Copenhagen told a friend of his that she could not kiss her boyfriend.

"I told the bouncer that it had to be discrimination against heterosexuals to say that they were not allowed to kiss," Joller said.

"The bouncer replied that it was unacceptable to conduct that kind of behavior 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," he continued. "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," Joller said.

Joller told the bouncer "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."

Mathilde Karisen Hansen, Joller's friend who was told that she couldn't lock lips with her boyfriend, said she was surprised and offended by the bar's decision and initially thought the bouncer was kidding.

"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," she told Homotropolis. "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.

"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," she added.

Joller then emailed the establishment about the incident. The bar's owner Christian Carisen soon replied and said 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".

Homotropolis asked Carisen to explain Never Mind's views towards straight clients.

"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," Carisen told the newspaper.

"In Never Mind we don't want heterosexual guests to dance, strip, kiss or behave inappropriately," he continued. "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."

But Joller disagrees with the owner and the bar's policy.

"I personally do not share the same view on this matter as some places do, where people are expected to repress their sexuality," he said.

"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."

But some side with Carisen and argue that gay clubs and bars should be "safe spaces where we could be ourselves without prying or judging eyes; our sense of specialness" -- especially in the U.S.

A blogger who calls himself "Jewish Author Tough Gay Activist Bear," (J.A.T.G.A.B.) is against the idea of having heterosexuals in gay establishments.

"Straights today often go into gay bars for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude," he writes.

The article notes that the idea of a straight person attending a gay club has turned from a taboo into a status symbol. Often times, heterosexual men can pick up a gay man's female friends who are sometimes labeled as fag hags.

But some people have even criticized straight women attending gay clubs as well.

"A gay bar with too many women-especially the kind of club where frisky things are going on-makes everyone uncomfortable," gay Gawker write Brian Moylan writes. "Also, any gay in a bar with a girl is almost guaranteed not to get laid. When it's a night out at the gay bar, please stay at home."

The article also points out that West Hollywood's the Abbey -- one of the most popular gay bars in the country (and even the world) -- has "become less exclusively gay to the point where one activist was considering a demonstration to take back 'our' bar."

Another article asks if the increasingly common presence of straights at your local queer watering hole compromise the purity of the gay bar's longtime mission statement," and "In a world in which homosexuals have lost some of their luster as an oppressed minority, do we really need a sequestered environment in which to find community and get laid?"

"The straight people who go to gay bars are there to support the gay people in their life and share fun experiences with them. They're there out of love, so it shouldn't be perceived as an us and them kind of situation," Sue Sena from the gay/straight alliance SWISH (Straight Woman in Support of Homos) says.