An incident at a downtown bar over the weekend has left a gay couple feeling discriminated and the bar’s manager feeling unfairly targeted as homophobic.
The incident happened Friday night at Jack Cameron’s Eatery and Nightclub in Charlottetown, formerly called the Velvet Underground.
A couple was kissing while on the dance floor when the bar’s manager, Gordie Cameron, took them aside and asked them to stop.
The couple in question was a male same-sex couple.
One of the two young men spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity. He said they were celebrating at the bar with friends who were leaving P.E.I. for the holidays.
Shortly after they began exchanging kisses on the dance floor, Cameron approached them and took them to a staff room where they were told, ‘You guys have to stop kissing or you’ll have to leave the bar,’ one of the couple told The Guardian.
“He said if it were a guy and a girl kissing he would do the same thing, but there were other people kissing and no one was spoken to like that.”
Cameron then bought the two men a drink, but they gave the drinks to friends and left.
“The reason I didn’t speak up there was that I didn’t want to cause a scene,” one of two men said.
“If he had done that to other couples, there would be no problem. The fact is, he singled out the two men on the dance floor and asked us to leave… there were even other female couples doing the same thing.”
That’s when they took to social media. One of the two young men posted a note on his Facebook page, detailing his perspective of the incident, saying he felt discriminated.
The status update went viral, with people re-posting it to their own personal pages, and then lashing out on the bar’s Facebook page.
But Cameron says the whole situation has been misinterpreted and that he and his establishment are being unfairly called homophobic.
He confirmed he did ask the couple to stop kissing Friday night, but says he did not ask them to leave and was not singling them out because they of their sexual orientation.
“If he had done that to other couples, there would be no problem. The fact is, he singled out the two men on the dance floor and asked us to leave… there were even other female couples doing the same thing,” Charlottetown bar patron
In an emailed statement to The Guardian, Cameron said he has been making numerous changes to the bar over the last few months in an effort to address problems they’ve had in the past with patrons acting inappropriately on the dance floor.
“My actions were performed as a business owner trying to make changes. Such overt behaviour would normally be reserved for the privacy of your bedroom,” he wrote in his statement.
“I did not ask them to leave. The couple were happily compliant at that time to honour my request, and as a sign of my gratitude towards them for honouring my request I bought them a drink in which they appreciated the gesture.”
Cameron went on to say he and members of his staff have since been inundated with messages containing personal attacks on social media sites as a result of this incident.
He stressed over and over he is not homophobic and is deeply disturbed at the vitriol Islanders have hurled at him based on one person’s Facebook post. That’s why he felt it necessary to deactivate Jack Cameron’s Facebook page.
“It’s regrettable that some people felt it necessary to make unwarranted, vulgar and sometimes hateful remarks voiced towards Jack Cameron’s staff in a public forum,” he wrote. “Right now I am concerned about the staff.”
But the two young men at the centre of this incident say they had no idea their post would garner the response it has.
“We just wanted to tell people and possibly get some kind of apology or empathy from the owner,” one of the men said. “But I definitely see it as discrimination.”