by Pierre Le Roux
Homophobia and gay bashings are nothing new. It is sad that it still occurs in this day and age, but unfortunately there are some idiots out there who express their ignorance and crudity through violence that is directed at the LGBT community. One would never expect that a gay bashing would occur at a gay club or that the perpetrators would be employees of that nightclub. But this is exactly what allegedly occurred at a nightclub called Rasputin in Pretoria over this weekend. What makes this incident even worse is the fact that the manager of this nightclub allegedly stood by and watched the assault take place without intervening or even calling the police. This led me to wonder, how safe are we really at the nightclub Rasputin or any other gay club for that matter.
During the early hours of Saturday morning Pieter Henning was assaulted by two straight men at Rasputin. The assault was so severe that he was hospitalized and had to undergo surgery. Judging from the graphic photos that he posted on his Facebook page the assault was vicious. The alleged perpetrators also kick and damaged his car trying to gain access to the occupants who then finally managed to call the police. All of this occurred allegedly in plain sight of the club manager, who simply locked the club’s door and watched the assault take place from inside the club, failing to intervene or to call for assistance.
Whether this assault was provoked or not I am not sure, but the level of violence that took place was most certainly unacceptable. After hearing of this gay bashing I attempted to contact the club owner and manager as I had some questions I wanted to ask them. Questions like: why nobody acted to stop the attack; whether they had any security measures to ensure the safety of their patrons; whether the assailants was indeed employees of the club; why they had not implemented any measures to prevent gay bashings at their venue as this was not the first time something like this has happened there; and whether it was true that gay bashings were apparently a frequent occurrence at their establishment. The club owners did respond but was rather vague which led me to wonder whose responsibility is it really to ensure the safety of patrons at gay venues.
Surely the owners and managers of nightclubs have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their patrons. We all know that if we enter clubs that we do so at our own risk, but should you suffer an injury that is a direct result of negligence of the club owner, manager or staff should they not be held accountable and forced to take responsibility? If they are aware of problems and fail to correct them or at the very least not even try and put preventative measures in place, what does that say about what they think about or even feel for their patrons? Would that be a place you’d feel safe to frequent and spend your hard earned money at? I think not.
There are many gay clubs out there that make a point of ensuring their patrons are safe. They do this with bouncers and security guards who at the first hint of trouble would intervene. Sure they can’t always keep problematic people out because at first they don’t look like trouble and the trouble only starts after a few drinks, but at least they are there. The other big problem is the fact that gay clubs are not only frequented by gay people, but by straight people too. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate heterosexuals who support the LGBT community and they are very welcome at any of our gay establishments. The problem comes in when straight folks who are in fact severely infected with homophobia go to gay venues not to support us but to make trouble. I have seen this many times and it never ends well.
The management of Rasputin is holding a meeting on Wednesday to discuss this problem. They said that they would not get involved in any mudslinging and promised free shooters to all the attendees. Quite ironic seeing as they blame alcohol for most of the problems they experience there. I find it rather insulting that a guy must first be gay bashed and end up in hospital before this nightclub would admit that there is problem and instead of fixing the problem they call a meeting. This seems more like a “let’s soothe the gays and hope they get over it” rather than actually spending money on security, bouncers and keeping out or even firing homophobes. The management of Rasputin blames the economy for not having any security measures in place such as bouncers, so I guess Pieter Henning should blame the economy too for being gay bashed.
Would I go to Rasputin, well my personal feeling is a resounding NO. I have a huge problem with spending money at any establishment who do not respect me or my business enough to use some of the money they make off me and my LGBT brothers and sister to ensure our safety. So how safe are we really when going to gay clubs, well I guess that would largely depend on where you go. If the nightclub doesn’t have any bouncers, security guards or any other safety measure in place chances are that sooner or later something bad will happen there. Look, I am not advocating that anyone boycott any establishment, I am only urging you to make informed decisions about where you go and how safe it is. It’s your choice to make after all.
Till next time.