Vancouver Men in Leather (VML) have circulated an email about their alleged treatment by Club Five Sixty staff and security at Xtra! Presents Hard: A Leather & Fetish Ball. According to the email, Five Sixty did its best to make Hard soft, by ending the night an hour earlier than promoted and having security restrict what went on in the infamous "play area." Many were left confused, with some saying they feel the mistreatment was homophobic.
Here's the email in its entirety:
Dear VML members and VML-followers,
After staff changes at Five Sixty several months ago, there was concern about having our fourth HARD Party at Five Sixty. Vancouver Men in Leather (VML) was assured by the persons negotiating with Five Sixty that the event would go ahead as planned with a safe play space. A few days before the party we were informed by the management of club Five Sixty that the party would end at 1.00 AM and not at 2.00 AM as advertised and we were told was previously agreed to by Five Sixty.At that point it was too late to try to get an extension on the hours.
We were told the liquor board asked Five Sixty about the play space before the event and we were assured they had no problem with it as long as there was no alcohol in the play space area. We had monitors at the entrances to the play space to comply with the liquor board rules. (This also was done at the last three HARD Parties.) After the event began, we were told that there was to be no oral or anal sex in the play space. This was protested by our group but to no avail. Security, hired by Five Sixty began walking regularly through the play space. They confronted guys who they felt were too amorous, and told them they had to stop. Eventually they sent a large security guard to confront guys more aggressively. One brave guy who said he was “passionate” but had his genitals in his pants asked “Why are you doing this?” A confrontation ensued with many witnesses. Many felt that the confrontation was heavy handed and stemmed from what some guys said felt like homophobia.
We would like to apologize to our supporters who were subjected to this treatment. We felt that we took sufficient steps to assure that this party would take place under the same conditions as our three previous successful HARD parties. VML, as one of the organisers of the HARD party, would never knowingly subject our party guests to abuse and humiliation. If VML had known that Five Sixty would behave in such a manner, we would not have had our HARD Party at Five Sixty.
Gay guys have enough issues/shame about sex already without having to deal with such insensitive accosting of party goers at a gay party. The actions of Five Sixty contribute to our community’s struggle for self-acceptance as a sexual gay man.
Although many of our guests had a great time on the dance floor, Vancouver Men in Leather feels badly that others were subjected to such treatment by Five Sixty staff. We as an organization are embarrassed that that part of the party did not go as planned, and some guys may feel they were harassed and shamed by Five Sixty staff.
The goal of VML is to provide a party that is both fun and sex positive. We failed at providing a sex positive party. We would like to apologise again to those who felt shamed, harassed, and embarrassed by Five Sixty security guards. As a result of what happened, VML will reconsider holding other events at Five Sixty.
Vancouver Men in Leather plans to continue to offer fun and interesting party experiences with a sex positive environment for the gay leather and fetish community.
-Vancouver Men in Leather
For Xtra's complete coverage of this story click here.