In mid August, a story made the news where a gay man, Pavel Vacek, was refused entry to the London club XXL for wearing heels. He was told by the bouncer at the time: “We don’t allow femininity.”
As XXL is well known as a club aimed mainly towards bears and the muscle scene, Vacek’s story divided opinion. Some said it was a case of toxic masculinity while others said it was wrong to criticise the club promoters for giving their audience what it wanted.
However, a post to Facebook by the club’s owner Mark Ames made it very clear on which side of the fence he stands.
The Facebook post read: [sic] “Bollox to all this PC and not letting off steam for fear of upsetting someone…you wanna ware heels?! Try shoving one up your arse and the other in your mouth, that two less offensive things in my world.”
It continued: “Get this butch up in XXL or get out and any other sub groups or individuals [sic] eep the fuc out XXL IS FOR MEN WHO WANT MEN! I couldn’t give a toss about the rest of the scene or todays so called community…”
There was instant backlash from London’s queer community. Many have called Ames out for his toxic masculinity stance, with some performers even organising a protest party – XXL Queer Gather Round – outside the doors of the London club, encouraging attendees to dress as flamboyant and feminine as possible. It advertises itself as “Open to any individuals of the LGBTQA+ community that feel like venues that exclude women, trans people, non-binary individuals or any expression of femininity are a threat to us and should be revised.”
Ames then posted another response to Facebook. This one much more calmly worded.
He stated his original post had been made due to the backlash he had received over the heel incident, insisting it was about the dress code rather than Vacek being feminine. He also said his customers were often attacked for “being fat, older and masculine. The so called bullied have been bullying my customers.”
The post went on to appear a little blind to the argument by saying: “Toxic masculinity, why is it toxic to be masculine?… XXL just happens to cater for men to men.”
However, Ames then released a follow-up post inviting people with ideas for more diverse clubs to contact him saying he would be open to working with them.
A protest challenging this door policy has been announced by drag queen Mary Poppers and will take place on September 22. Speaking of the protest, Poppers said,
“This gathering is happening to show Mark that the community that he ‘couldn’t give a toss about’ is actively listening. The gay community is the one that pays for his club, although he has been having a very negative hate speech about it.”
On the Facebook event page, Poppers wrote, “So please, be as flamboyant as you can be! Bring sequins, feathers, confetti cannons, glitter, whatever we can do to upset their fragile masculinity. This is a peaceful protest, a call for attention that ANY HATE SPEACH AGAINST ANY EXPRESSION OF QUEERNESS WON’T BE IGNORED!”
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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