As a bigger (read: chubby or fat) guy, it’s fairly normal that I get discriminated against due to my size or how I look. Especially when it comes to going out on the gay club scene.
Most clubs want what they perceive as the ‘pretty people’ to come to their clubs or events. You’ll be walking down Old Compton Street in Soho some evening and will see the people handing out flyers to this club or that, sometimes even giving free entry. Heaven/G-A-Y for instance is famous for handing out wristbands in Soho earlier in the evening to get more people to head to their club.
I’m guessing sometimes they’re a bit selective as to who they give their flyers to, as I’m assuming they’ve been instructed to only target a certain demographic – cute, young, fit, muscular, etc. It’s similar to straight clubs where promoters will advertise ‘ladies nights’ as a way to get more women to come to their clubs.. And in turn, get more guys out to socialise with said ladies.
It’s all about knowing your market and targeting it I suppose.
Well a couple weeks ago, the tables got turned on the ‘usual’ physical discrimination you see at these gay clubs.
The big bear club XXL was advertising free entry if you show your profile on their social/dating app upon entry, so a mate and I decided to go out and shake our booty. Neither of us have been in years, and figured this would be a good opportunity to get out there and socialise a bit more.
However we should have read the advertisement a bit closer – the free entry was for ‘bears‘ only. That’s right, for once being a bigger, hairy guy with a shaved head actually worked out for me and I got in free.
But my mate didn’t and he had to pay the full £15 cover. He did try to halfheartedly argue that it was discrimination as some people may consider themselves bears but don’t fit the physical stereotype. It wasn’t about the entry fee itself, but more of the principle behind it.
As much as it was great to get in for free, I felt a bit bad for my mate that he had to pay. Though was nice to be on the other end of things for once.
I did find it interesting how some guys tried quite hard to argue their case with the doorman/attendant because they felt it was unfair that the club didn’t consider them a ‘bear’, despite how they may view themselves. In fact we watched an average sized guy in front of us argue that he was a bear, going so far as to unbutton his shirt to show how hairy he is.
At one point the doorman just looked at him then pointed at me and stated, ‘You need to look like that to get in for free.’ And when he was asked to pay the cover charge because he didn’t fit what they considered the physical bear stereotype, the guy asked for a manager as he felt this was unfair.
I’m not sure if he succeeded in getting in for free or not.
I used to love going to XXL back when I first arrived in London, as it was fun and friendly(ish), and it was great to find a place that actually catered to guys who looked like me and those who are attracted to them. I had many terrific nights there dancing the nights away and flirting with cute guys, including my first NYE in London.
But then the club became popular among the twinky and muscle-queen scene, and suddenly there were prissy guys there sneering at the chubby guys, making them feel uncomfortable in what was supposed to be the bear club. It literally stopped being an inclusive place where bears could let it all hang out (and some did more than others…), and it stopped feeling like a ‘bear’ club.
This changed the attitude of the club, and like a lot of others out there, I stopped going. Being surrounded by others that looked like yourself and those that were attracted to bigger guys was this club’s appeal. And they lost it for awhile.
I just hope their current push to bring the bears back to the club works for them, and that feeling of inclusiveness comes back to it. Only time will tell..
And until then, I may just have to use that free entry again sometime when I’m feeling like dancing my butt off. 😉