Posted by: G-AZZI | February 6, 2011

From Tunis, to Cairo , to Kayan and Acid

What an exciting month January has been. We have all been following the news; watching, with much excitement and solidarity, our brothers and sisters in Egypt and Tunisia as they took to the streets calling for freedom.

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, heterosexuals, men, women, old and young, have all united under one slogan: “We want more democracy, more freedom, more equality.” We were all happy that the wind of change is finally blowing in the region.  A change in Egypt will have a massive impact regionally and beyond.

Meanwhile, two main events marked the “gay nightlife” scene in Beirut: one is the reopening of Acid for one night, and the second one is the homophobic reaction that 9 gay men faced in Kayan, a bar in the Gemmayze neighborhood.

Three days ago, a group of nine gay men were asked to leave Kayan by the staff (read more here).  Kayan is not a gay bar, but it is known to be an alternative place where all kinds of clientele could go without facing discrimination. Following that incident, a group was started on Facebook calling for people to boycott Kayan. Gay and gay-friendly people joined the group, everyone was scandalized, and the campaign reached the owner and staff of Kayan. The response? Lame excuses such as “The group had no reservation.” The management of Kayan did not even bother to present a single excuse. I am not sure if Kayan will change its attitude next time, but we definitely made a point.

As for Acid, the (in)famous “gay” nightclub of Beirut closed once again the day after the reopening. The closure had nothing to do with the fact that it was a gay club, contrary to what was mentioned in some media and blogs. Charges for public indecency were dropped, and it was ultimately closed by the Ministry of Tourism for its proximity to residential buildings.

When Acid reopened, I heard a lot of LGBT people expressing their happiness for the return of the almighty “gay” club. I lost track of the number of people who were kicked out, insulted and beaten up by the security bulldogs of Acid. Gay men were pushed and shoved, and treated badly for dancing too close to each other and lesbian women were beaten by the security guards. Acid has always refused to cooperate with Helem because the place “is not gay,” according to the owner… Despite all that, Acid was always overcrowded and overflowing and people were willing to spend their money in a place that never showed any respect to them: 99% of Acid clients were LGBT.

Few other bars have homophobic policies, like “Behind the Green Door” (for example) who denies entrance to male only groups, yet many of its clients are LGBT people.

Why don’t we boycott these bars the same way we boycott Kayan? Does the fact that some of these bars are owned by gay individuals automatically make them immune to our criticism?

I think Boycott is a good strategy and a good way to say that we won’t sit back and accept to be taken for granted.

However, it is legitimate for a bar to have its rules and regulations, as long as these rules are applied to everyone without any discrimination, and as long as the clients are informed about these rules and regulations in a respectful way. That’s why it is important to engage with the owners of the bars and listen to what they have to say before we call for a boycott, otherwise we will lose our credibility.

We have the power to change this situation, by communication first and then with boycott. I think it is the responsibility of LGBT organizations (Helem , Meem) to engage with bar owners and share the names of homophobic bars and businesess so we can spread the work , inform our friends and boycott them.

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Responses

  1. This is exactly the discussion (and direction) that should be taking place. Bravo.

  2. Ur Amazing as always Georges!
    i just wish all the local activists adopt your stable point of view!

  3. Great Thinking ! In numbers we have power. Someone should work on getting out into the gay community and spreading the news-

  4. the “kayan” problem is made by a discrimination attitude which took place in this pub…..but what about the rhumors that the owner and the bartender Jean???what about his flirting manners with the clients….what about his brother who is always in a weird mood?what about monique the flying girl??
    i have a lot of info about this pub and soon will be an issuue with it


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