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Quashing the damn lesbian threat at an Aussie club

“I’m not worried about it because to be frank I don’t really care what heterosexuals or lesbians think.”
— Tom McFeely, owner of the Peel Hotel in Melbourne, who can now keep his establishment free of the scourge of dykes and hets — and safe for gay men.

Nice to know where you’re not wanted, huh?  The decision by the civil tribunal to allow this cited that the hotel has the right to refuse entry to people “considered a threat to the safety and comfort of its patrons.” I understand the concept of the private club, but for me it’s the attitude and statements of this guy that are so appalling. (Raw Story):

The Peel Hotel in Melbourne won an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act to prevent insults and abuse directed toward gays in its bars and nightclubs, owner Tom McFeely told AFP.

“The hotel predominantly markets itself towards homosexual males, towards gay men and we want to protect the integrity of the venue as well as continue to make the men feel comfortable,” McFeely said.

“When large numbers of heterosexuals or even lesbians are in the hotel that changes the atmosphere and many gay men can feel uncomfortable.”

…”My main motivation is to protect my gay male customers and I realise heterosexuals and lesbians may be upset. but I don’t care about that.

Of course the same is true when it comes to the politics of “women’s-only space” — and all the controversy that comes up from time to time, particularly when it comes to trans-inclusion/exclusion. In the case of Smith College, the nation’s oldest operating women’s university, has faced the issue with several FTM students, (most notably in the case of Lucas, featured in the documentary Transgeneration).

More after the jump.A good article on the issue, “A class apart,” appeared in the Financial Times.

Smith wants to be an accepting environment, where every student can explore who she wants to be. For transgender students, the bathrooms have been a testing ground. After a group of transgender students and their allies tore down gender-specific plaques, Smith created some “gender-neutral” restrooms.

It is not the only college that is grappling with transgenderism and the campus activism it has provoked. More than 25 American institutions have taken steps to accommodate transgender students, according to the advocacy group, Transgender Law and Policy Institute. Nearly a dozen have created, or have promised to create, gender-neutral restrooms, including the University of Chicago, which has 15 on its campus. Four, including New York University and Cornell University, either require or strongly encourage their health and counselling staff to attend training courses on transgender issues.

But Smith’s an educational institution, not a social club. Wherever there is a sizeable queer community, we usually see gay men and lesbians breaking off into their own social spaces and clubs. That’s not the case, however, in smaller cities and rural areas, where there isn’t that social separation — the bond of queerness in a hostile environment trumps all.

That was well-portrayed in the documentary small town gay bar, by Malcolm Ingram. From my earlier post on the film.

It was a wonderful look at what social life is like for gays in the rural South. I mean really rural — the two Mississippi bars profiled were in Shannon (pop. 1,657) and Meridian (39,968). Durham, for comparison’s sake has an estimated pop. of 204,845.

Watching this film is like going back in time if you live in a progressive area or large city; the closet is a necessity here, as you might imagine. Being out can be a death sentence for these people. The bar is their only refuge, their only time to let their hair down, be themselves and feel safe to be who they are, as gays, lesbians, trans, black, white — all that matters is that you know you aren’t alone. Drag queens had a home to perform out and proud at Rumors and Crossroads (now called Different Seasons).

…You may ask, why on earth do these gay folks stay in these tiny towns? They are subjected to the possible loss of a job if someone outs you, shunning by family, or worse, you end up like Scotty Weaver. Kate and I talked about this for a while, but it’s pretty clear that for many gays in rural areas, their fear of living in a hostile world like this is actually less stressful than the thought of living in a large, urban environment. The “big city” for them may be a 2-3 hour drive away, and it seems an inhospitable, cold place in comparison to the world they know and make for themselves. back home, hidden in the shadows of bars tucked away, deep in the woods.

These queer folks could make the drive to find separate social spaces, but they prefer being with each other, because they have more in common than not in these parts of the country.

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Pam Spaulding

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