By patti dawn swansson
It’s Friday afternoon. I’m sitting on a bar stool at Paparazzi Show/Nightclub in Victoria. Every person in the room is gay. Even the charming fellow pouring pints and popping tops behind the bar is gay.
So, you’ll have to excuse my confusion when I ask: What part of Paparazzi being a gay bar do people not understand?
I mean, with the closure of The Ledge this week, many folk in Victoria’s LGBT community are rolling in the sad. It was, after all, a gay safe space, so I appreciate and share the sentiment. What puzzles me, however, is why some in the gay collective submit that our city no longer has a queer space. You know, a venue where birds of the gay feather can flock together and be immune to the condemning eyes, the spiteful words and the boorish actions of the bigots in mainstream society.
Here are two comments from The Ledge facebook page:
“Now Victoria is desperately in need of a fabulous queer space.”
“So, now there is no venue that is queer in Victoria.”
I realize there are some in the gay community whose wish it is to have an exclusive gay space. That is to say, 100 per cent gay clientele. Straights need not apply.
Well, hellooooo. Welcome to 21st century Canada. You can’t bar someone from your business based on his/her sexual orientation. Even if that were the case, how would a business determine who’s gay and who’s straight? It’s not like we walk around with a jumbo G on a rainbow flag tattooed on our foreheads.
And what would you have your door security do to keep the straights out? Demand that they produce an Official Gay Card otherwise they’re turned away? Go for it. And good luck at your human rights hearing.
So, yes, Paparazzi welcomes straight people. I’ve got news for you, so did The Ledge.
In both cases, however, the focus is/was on the gay collective.
It’s at times like this that I truly wonder about the local gay community. The passing of The Ledge is mourned, yet the evidence strongly supports the notion that the gay community will not support itself.
Consider these cold, hard facts from events of the past 4-5 years:
The Paisley. Out of business.
The Copper Club. Out of business.
The Q. Out of business.
The Castle. Out of Business.
The Ledge. Out of business.
So tell me again how vital it is that we have gay spaces in Victoria. You had five of them. You didn’t support them.
Paparazzi, the flagship of the LGBT community, remains the sole gay space still standing. As of this writing, the doors to Paparazzi are still open. So, you’ve got what you say you want, but you say it’s not what you want.
Again, little wonder I’m confused.
How owners Attila Bassett and Terry Bex manage to keep their business open while gay bars across the country and in the U.S. are boarding up the windows and bolting the doors is a mystery. I’m not privy to Paparazzi finances. I don’t know if the bottom line on their books is printed in black ink or if the boys are drowning in a sea of red ink.
I do know this, however: Those boys are fighting the good fight because they believe it’s important that the gay community have a space to be themselves and be true to themselves.
It’s really that simple.
So don’t insult them by saying they aren’t operating a gay safe space. Thank them for keeping the doors open.