Two gay men in Prince Edward Island say a nightclub owner discriminated against them when he told them to stop kissing on the dancefloor on Friday, Dec 7.
Kirs Jay was drinking and dancing with his boyfriend at Jack Cameron’s Nightclub and Eatery in downtown Charlottetown. Jay says the manager, Gordie Cameron, tapped his boyfriend on the shoulder while they were kissing and led the two men into a back room. There, he told them to stop kissing or leave the nightclub.
“I felt like we were picked out on the dancefloor because we were two men, and he didn’t want us showing our affection,” Jay says.
Cameron told them he would do the same with any heterosexual couple, and gave them both a free drink. Jay says they gave the drinks away to friends and then left.
Jay’s boyfriend posted about the event that night on Facebook, and soon the PEI gay community was buzzing. The Jack Cameron’s Facebook page disappeared after a barrage of critical comments.
Cameron, who took over managing the bar two months ago, sounded tired and a little defeated when he took Xtra’s call Dec 11.
“I’m the farthest person from homophobic,” he says. “I’m the most open-minded person in the world.”
Cameron says he is just trying to clean up the reputation of his nightclub, which means stopping excessive displays of affection from gay and straight people alike.
Jack Cameron’s, which used to be the Velvet Underground, was once nicknamed “the Dirty,” one of Charlottetown’s sleaziest dives. Cameron says that everyone has to adjust to his new rules, and Jay just took the comments the wrong way.
“They were hardcore going at ’er in the middle of the dancefloor. Necking, you know,” he says. “You’re not allowed to do that, no matter what gender you are.”
Amy MacQuarrie, a member of PEI’s gay community, was at Jack Cameron’s and saw the event take place. She says she thought Cameron acted sensibly and professionally. “He quietly took them aside and told them to knock it off,” she says.
MacQuarrie says that there were straight men giving Jay and his boyfriend “some nasty-looking looks” and that Cameron’s actions made things safer for everyone.
However, there were plenty of heterosexual couples kissing similarly without repercussions, she notes.
Colleen McKie, liaison for ARCPEI, a local gay and lesbian group, says she expects that what happened to Jay was an isolated incident.
“I’m optimistic,” she says. “In PEI, I would like to think, regardless of your sexual orientation, you can go somewhere and have a good time.”
She says Charlottetown has made great strides in inclusiveness in recent years. If Jay and his boyfriend were singled out for being gay, she says, it was the exception to the rule.
Jay says he has told all his gay friends not to go to the nightclub in future, and some people on local gay forums are discussing holding a kiss-in. Jay, however, says he wouldn’t attend. “That’s just giving Jack Cameron’s more business that I don’t want to give them,” he says.
Cameron says he was shocked by the online reaction, and now he just wants to move on. “I thought I was pretty nice to them,” he says. “I’m trying to cater to everybody — I do mean everybody. And this does not help.”