15. April 2011 13:51
This week a top news story is about how two young gay men were asked to leave (some reports say they were forcibly asked to leave) the John Snow pub in London's SoHo.
What's going on here? Certainly it seems that there was an anti-gay element to this incident. The couple were asked to stop kissing because the landlord and landlady branded their behaviour obscene and offensive. Hardly shocking behaviour in a central London pub is it - snogging your date? But apparently the John Snow thinks so - and we can reasonably draw the conclusion that this was only because it was two men, not a man and a woman.
So, if you're on a date with your boyfriend, should you have a right to snog in public? Strictly speaking the landlord of that pub had every right to choose his customers, because his job is to maximise profits, and if any behaviour occurs which could lower profits (in this case by driving other customers away) then he's not doing his job properly. However this could have seriously backfired as the John Snow pub in particular and Samuel Smith's brewery in general will now have the reputation of being homophobic and unwelcoming to gay people.
Many gay commentors on the issue have taken the view that a peck on the cheek is fine in public, but full-on tonsil tennis is way over the bounds of acceptable behaviour. For the simple reason that those are the norms that generally apply to everyone everywhere.
Others have suggested that there are parts of London that are gay-friendly so the couple should have gone there. Hardly seems right to ghettoize us into small communities. And the John Snow is only a few street away from the "acceptable" localities. Are we still in a world where there are certain pubs on certain streets where we can kiss and certain others where we can't. What if you were new to London and didn't know the rules? This line of reasoning seems to lead us into an unholy mess.
It's always problematic to try and draw a general conclusion from a specific incident. We weren't there, we didn't witness this. But there seems to be implications for gay dating in general. It seems we're still expected to toe a certain line. We can sit in the pub, but no kissing. If we must kiss, it's no tongues. Better get used to the rules lads, otherwise you might be on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing of the wrong kind entirely.