No, the gay scene is not misogynistic

Christian Butler

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Topics Politics

Hannah Riley, a 21-year-old lesbian studying at King’s College London, has declared that G-A-Y Late and Heaven, two of London’s biggest gay venues, denied her entry on the basis of her sex. In an open letter and a subsequent interview with Buzzfeed, Riley accused the venues of institutionalised sexism. She claims that, on one night out, she and the female members of her group were denied entry to both venues, while her male friends were not questioned and would ‘probably’ have been allowed in.

Riley claims that these G-A-Y-owned venues are turning Soho into an unsafe space where lesbians and transgender people don’t feel protected. While other lesbians came forward on Twitter with similar experiences, there were also many who said they didn’t recognise the prejudice Riley describes. After all, her claims seem to be based entirely on her experiences on a single night out.

‘I think the LGBT scene is just for gay men’, Riley went on. Ku Bar, another Soho favourite, was, she said, a case in point: ‘All the people who work there are men, with no shirts on. How does that appeal to women?’ This is despite the fact that Ku Bar holds a popular lesbian night, Ruby Tuesday, in which men aren’t allowed in on their own. This isn’t discrimination, it’s catering to your target audience.

Riley begins her open letter by saying it’s ironic that G-A-Y calls for the boycott of Russian vodka – in response to Russia’s stance on gay rights – when its venues actively discriminate against sections of the LGBT community. That’s right, she’s comparing getting turned away from a night club to living in a country that has banned the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ and recently drafted a bill to ban all public displays of homosexuality. If she thinks G-A-Y Late is unsafe, she should have tried going out to Central Station, Russia’s biggest gay club, which has had to shut for good after repeated gunfire and gas attacks.

But Riley’s whinging is fuelled by more than narcissism – it’s also indicative of a student LGBT movement that is increasingly turning on its own. At this year’s NUS LGBT conference, a motion entitled ‘Defending Safe(r) spaces and No Platforming’ called for an end to gay men’s representation. The reason? Apparently ‘white cis gay men’ contribute to ‘misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia’ and ‘do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community’.

In an era when political authority, on campus and beyond, is given to those with the most perceived victim points, gay men have become fair game. Identity politics has become so beholden to its hierarchy of grievance that some of the very people Safe Space policies were originally set up to ‘protect’ are now seen as part of the problem. The millennial obsession with victimhood has produced an LGBT community that believes it isn’t even ‘safe’ from itself.

Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.

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