Comment: A strange and unpredictable step back for equality?

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I am always one to stick up for gay rights; I am a human being and I deserve to love and be treated as a human being. I believe the whole world should be equal no matter what your sexuality, race or gender. So what happens when a minority group – in this instance LGBT people – start turning the tables on those who have historically discriminated against them?

Over the past couple of days there has been a quite interesting turn of events on the Canal Street Facebook page. One Emma Enderwitz posted on their wall about her experience of a night out there. She claims she was refused entry to a club (Cruz 101) with the tiresome “Members only” line. If you’re a regular in Manchester’s Gay Village, you’ll know that really means “No straight people tonight”.

The post has, at the time of writing, gained over a thousand ‘likes’ and over 150 comments. One comment was a response from those running the page. They said: “You will [sic] be well advised to make some enquiries in advance at the venues of your choice. This will save potential issues for your party. Good luck and enjoy.”

A rather underwhelming reply, you may think. In one way, it (kind of) makes sense to discourage straight people from gay venues if only to make the LGBT community feel safer, untroubled and not like objects to be stared at. But how is this practical when most gay men and lesbian women look exactly the same as straight men and women? I don’t wear glittery hot pants or have a pink Mohawk (not that I have a problem with those things – in fact, they sound quite cool), so how exactly do the bouncers decide who’s “gay enough” to enter their clubs?

The only possible explanation is that Canal Street’s very own bouncers are using the stereotypes against their own clientele. At a time when gay rights are as much on the agenda as ever, it’s a bit of a shock to discover the biggest discrimination in Manchester seems to be coming from the LGBT crowd itself.

Personally, I have never been refused entry into a non-gay club for “not looking straight enough”, nor have I ever heard of similar stories from anyone else. That’s because if such a thing happened it would be all over our newspapers and deemed utterly inappropriate. So why is straight discrimination at the doors of gay clubs going unreported?

Surely the integration of people of all sexualities should be promoted rather than discouraged? Pushing straight people away only gives our community a bad name and that is the last thing we want. I personally would love the chance to party in a club full of both straight people and gay people – half my friends are straight anyway. I only ever go to gay clubs so I can kiss my boyfriend and have fun without any unwanted attention. And perhaps for cheesy music (though not all gay clubs play that).

Come on Canal Street – get your act together and realise you’re alienating the wider community and pushing us all back. Gay clubs should be for everyone: gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual and transgender. A place where we can all feel comfortable and accept all the things that are not quite fully accepted in the wider world, still.

I hope to see the day where ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ clubs don’t exist. And that we can all just dance and have fun without segregating each other. We never heard of a black man refusing to sit next to a white man on the bus during the fight for race equality did we?

With only a fortnight to go until the start of Manchester Pride’s big weekend, it will be interesting to see how they react to this issue. Would they like it if no straight people attended Pride and pushed us back into a more oppressive era? Would they like it to be ‘strictly’ LGBT? or would they like a mix of people to show how important the equality we fought for is?