This isn't the usual type of content I post on here, and I was in two minds whether or not to publish this post. However, it's something that has really affected and annoyed me so I think if something evokes that kind of feeling, it should be talked about.
I'm talking about an incident that I was involved in last weekend at the Kremlin Nightclub in Belfast. I'll set the scene...
I was out with a group of 6 friends to celebrate my 24th birthday. We had been planning to head to the Kremlin as it was one of my favourite clubs in Belfast and I've had lots of really good nights there. After a round of drinks in Union Street,we approached the club and showed the door staff our entry stamps which we had been given from members of their Promo Team further up the road.
The door staff advised that we couldn't come in because it's "Regulars Only". If it was a Regulars Only night, why were the promo team out trying to bring people in and giving out stamps? There had to be more to it than "Regulars Only."
I asked the doorman outright if this had anything to do with the way I looked. He wasn't even able to look me in the face, never mind answer my question.
The Kremlin advertises itself as a "Safe Space" for the LGBTQ community and a place which represents equality, tolerance and acceptance.Why then, do they feel that they have the right to decide if someone is "gay enough" to attend based on how they dress, speak or behave?
For someone who identifies as LGBTQ, this can be extremely damaging and isolating. It is difficult enough to understand and accept your own sexuality without facing further discrimination from within the LGBTQ community itself because you don't conform to stereotypes. Your identity is YOUR identity. No-one has the right to undermine that because you don't look the way society assumes that you should.
I know that door policies in gay venues are a contentious issue but there is a word for door policies that exclude people from a venue for no other reason than for who they are or are perceived to be, and that word is discrimination. Something that the LGBTQ community, especially here in Northern Ireland, have been trying to fight against for years and years.
As I've spoken with other people about this incident, I've been stunned by the number of people who said straight away "That happened to me too" and "I've seen that happen before." This clearly hasn't been an isolated incident and it needs to stop. I've also had a look at some of the reviews on the Kremlin Facebook page, which listed a number of incidents similar to mine and also people who had gone to the club after seeing their events advertised around the city, only to be told they're "Regulars Only" at the door. Again, why advertise these events if they're not open to the public?
I think that it's a real shame that the "premier gay venue" in Ireland have started to partake in the discrimination that they claim to be fighting against and I, for one, will not be back.