Gay Britain: Manchester club scene turns against heteros
Saturday 11 October 1997
Paul McCann asks if this is heterophobia or positive discrimination.
The attempt by the Conservative Party to reposition itself as gay-friendly is probably the last piece of news the Manchester gay village needs.
Bars and clubs have started turning away straight customers in what some have described as wave of "Heterophobia", but which the clubs see as essential to the survival of the gay community, according to a documentary to be screened by Channel 5 tomorrow night.
Clubs like the Paradise Factory and Poptastic, and bars like Manto now employ drag queens and gay doormen to decide whether customers trying to gain entry really are gay.
"We're not anti-straight," says Andrew O'Dwyer, manager of the Paradise Factory, which turns away 400 people every weekend. "They can come in as long as they come with gay friends. But what happens is if you get too many straight people in you get a change in atmosphere, the vibe changes.
"It also means you could spend the whole night chatting someone up only to discover at the end of the night that you're not going to get anywhere."
"We get accused of discrimination, but it is positive discrimination, to try to maintain the atmosphere that attracts people in the first place."
John Hamilton, manager of Poptastic, says its easy to tell who is gay: "By the way they are dressed, by the way they act, their mannerisms and asking them who they kiss and where they go."
Mr O'Dwyer insists that his door policy doesn't mean that only gay "clones" can be admitted. "Rosie, who does the vetting on the door, is a gay person who spends a lot of time in gay clubs and bars and just gets to know the faces. And there are people we turn away who start to get abusive - shouting "faggots" and "queers" - so you know you've made the right decision."
The attraction for straight men and women is that the gay clubs offer a less threatening atmosphere than heterosexual venues. "They know it is a nice easy-going atmosphere and its a place where they can just chill out," Gordon Edwards, a doorman at the Paradise Factory told Channel 5. "You don't get the normal, how can you say it, idiot blokes, like you'd normally get in a straight club."
Mr Edwards even believes some straight men come to gay clubs looking for women. "The nicer girls who normally get hassled all night, they come here knowing they're not going to get hassled, so you get a straight lad who uses his head a bit and comes here."
Mr O'Dwyer is also concerned about the kind of straight men he lets in - in case they take offence at being approached by gay men. "If a woman gets her bum touched by a man she's offended. If a straight man has his bum touched by another man it an cause quite a bit of offence."
Mr O'Dwyer blames the success of the annual Manchester gay Mardi Gras, which this year attracted 130,000 people to the gay village, and means there is now a rash of bars opening or planned that will not be strictly gay.
"There are people opening bars here who are almost homophobic, they are just cashing in. Some of the breweries are making an effort to maintain a gay atmosphere, but they're still just interested in money."
"Then there are restaurants like the Mash and Air, which is very nice, but is attracting the yuppie Cheshire set who would never have been seen here before".
l What's The Story? Channel 5, Sunday 7pm.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
- 1 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Kim Jong-un 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have experience of B2B s...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...
£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...