Cellar nightclub has denied accusations of homophobia, after two male students were allegedly told to stop kissing by a bouncer on Thursday evening.
The bouncer reportedly warned the students that their kissing could “provoke” other attendees.
The students also received homophobic abuse from other men at the club, with one student allegedly headbutted by an older man. This incident has sparked outrage across much of Oxford’s LGBTQ community, with a “kiss-in” protest planned at Cellar for Thursday evening.
A 20 year-old Magdalen student, who preferred not to be named, told The Oxford Student that he was kissing another man in the corner of Cellar at around 01:30 in the early hours of Friday morning, when an older man grabbed his shoulder, telling the pair “this is not a gay club”. After a verbal altercation, a different attendee allegedly headbutted one of the students.
Later in the evening, the Magdalen student reported that he and the other man were kissing on the dance floor when a bouncer told them to stop, warning that their actions could “provoke” other customers.
The bouncer allegedly added: “I’m not looking for trouble, but you might make some people angry.”
The student was later allegedly prevented from re-entering the club after arguing with the bouncer on Cornmarket Street.
Cellar has denied all allegations of homophobia. Tim Hopkins, Venue Manager at the club, told The Oxford Student that the students were asked to stop kissing because they were “standing directly in front of the stage”, and not because they were both men. Hopkins insisted that Cellar is an “LGBT-friendly venue”, and that homophobia is “not accepted in Cellar”.
The club’s Thursday night event “Supermarket” will become student-only after the incident, with students now checked for university ID as they enter.
Cellar also confirmed they have checked CCTV footage of the night, but cannot find the alleged incident as they do not know the precise time it occurred. The footage’s poor quality has also made this task difficult.
The man who allegedly head-butted one of the students was described as being muscular, wearing a white t-shirt, in his mid-30s, and black.
The Magdalen student described his “shock” at the incident, commenting: “The shock didn’t come until the next morning. I had no idea what to do, so I wrote on the LGBT Reps Facebook page asking for help and seeking advice. I woke up to some really positive responses. I’ve been really touched by all the positive reactions I’ve got from my friends and from members of Oxford’s LGBT community.”
Oxford University’s LGBTQ Society has responded with anger to the incident, with a protest “kiss-in” organised for Thursday evening.
The event’s Facebook page states: “We are showing Cellar and other venues around Oxford that we won’t stand for their queerphobic bullshit. So grab a consenting partner and join us for a kiss-in at Cellar.”
Anna Bazley, Welfare Officer at the Society, commented: “If this distressing report is true, it is completely unacceptable that those who are supposed to keep customers safe in clubs acted aggressively based on prejudice. The LGBTQSoc will be staging a kiss-in to demonstrate to Cellar, the bouncers and other Oxford clubs that this kind of homophobia will not be tolerated.”
Bazley, a third-year St Peter’s student, went on to urge “anyone who experiences homophobia to report incidences of bullying or harassment with the relevant authorities and contact either the society welfare representatives or college LGBTQ officer if they are emotionally affected.”
IMAGE/Cellar nightclub, Facebook.