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‘Gay venues are for ALL LGBT people, whether you’re a gym bunny or gender-fluid drag queen’

Resentment over different tribes 'taking over' gay nights has to stop, says Cliff Joannou.

By Will Stroude

This article first appeared in Attitude issue 289, November 2017. All images courtesy of Sink the Pink.

Wouldn’t it be better if some clubs and bars just stopped allowing their punters to be so… in ya face different?

We’d have none of those annoying queens in Dr Marten boots. You wouldn’t have to deal with gays in too-tight jeans. And we could do away with men with camp tendencies, too.

Obvs, I don’t mean any of the previous statements. I’m making a point, innit.

The fact is I am those statements. The ugly face of “them” and “us” reared its head on the gay scene last year at London’s Sink the Pink, a club I thought I’d never see elicit that kind of intolerant attitude.

STP went feral for its autumn event at London’s Troxy theatre with its “Into the Wild” theme, asking clubbers to indulge their animalistic side.

Boys as bodypainted snakes writhed alongside lads in butterfly wings. It was Studio 54 meets Noah’s Ark, without the religious dogma. And as expected from any homosexual dress-up event there was plenty of glorious flesh on display, much to the disapproval of some.

After the event, some customers took to social media to complain about the apparent number of muscles on show, setting pictures of toned torsos against the extravagant costumes that declared how apparently “Sink The Pink was dead.” [Drama queen, anyone?]

Now, the problem with any social media post is that it’s a carefully curated slice of how the person posting wants reality to seem, in order to support their grumble. And let’s face it, most times it is a grumble. It’s not as if Sink the Pink is awash with the kind of ripped torsos you’d find at a Miami circuit party.

Granted, some people don’t have the vision to create the glittering artworks many others do. And yes, some outfits can be a little… basic. But I don’t know why that means they aren’t entitled to go out, dance and revel in life.

As long as there’s respect and love in the air, what does it matter how you look? As the club states, “Sink the Pink has always strived to be a safe and inclusive environment with an ongoing aim of making everyone feel comfortable with how they identify themselves.”

There’s a huge chunk of people who don’t dress up, who simply go for the music, atmosphere and to absorb and appreciate the visual splendour that others take pride in providing.

Far be it from me to tell you how things were back in the day. But back in the day (here she goes…), most likely due to the disparity in equality laws, LGBT+ people of all descriptions saw themselves as being in the same shit together. Clubs such as Heaven, under its original ownership, and Trade would pull in every queen from across the rainbow.

Leather daddies shacked out on the dancefloor with dykes, muscle boys mixed with lipstick lesbians, drag queens and bears shared jokes. Everyone danced under the same mirror ball, our differences were the glue that held us together in a world that desired to see us stand apart. Now legal equality has progressed, these “tribes” only really come together in solidarity at Pride events.

It seems this distance has made us less tolerant to our own. When did we begin to direct back into our community the homophobia that was once directed at us?

Why can you not accept somebody for how they choose to present themselves? What is it in you that finds their presence offensive?

Ask yourself this: what kind of gay scene do you want?