Soho eatery Balans at centre of homophobia allegations
A word from Palash Davé
A dear pal of mine – a brilliant and brave theatre practitioner and gender/sexuality/human-rights activist, who temporarily can’t be named due to consular issues – just posted, to friends on her Facebook wall, her account of a horrendous experience in Balans (www.facebook.com/balanslondon), an eatery/drinkery hitherto experienced by many of us as an integral part of London’s most famous LGBTQ thoroughfare, Old Compton Street:
“Awful, awful night tonight.
After @Lili la Scala’s birthday, Victoria F, Dorian B and his lovely new squeeze Rafa and I thought we’d go to Balans.
Balans, the gay restaurant on Old Compton Street.
When we got there, I went downstairs to the loo.
When I got back up, Dorian and Rafa were being hustled out by bouncers because they had been seen kissing and that was offensive to the general people at the bar….
I asked to discuss this with the manager, who said he had to “consider the needs of his customers, who might be offended”.
I said this was strange in a gay restaurant – an opinion backed up by people at several nearby tables – at which point a bouncer physically removed me from the building.
I had a little breathe, then went to find Vicky, Dorian and Raffa, who were on the other side of the building.
I had to pass the bouncer who’d pulled me out, who looked me in the eye as she said on her phone to whoever she was talking to: ‘This fat dyke was looking out for them, she needs to eat the shit of my shoes, she should get raped on the way home.’
The place where my friends were kissing.
I call on all of you.
I’m hereby spreading word, with a view to organising further dissemination and action. If this can be allowed to pass in London, of all places, well….
Of course, we weren’t there and Balans are telling a very different story:
“We would like to ensure our guests that we are not a homophobic company in any way. We’ve always had the gay community at our heart. We take these allegations very seriously and are holding an investigation of last nights issues at Soho” said a statement on their Facebook page, quickly followed by a much more thorough official response:
“We would like to reassure our guests that last night’s incident at our Soho restaurant between three customers and a member of our security team was a behavioural issue. It’s a shame that it’s being described as a homophobic issue as all of our staff involved, including the security staff, are gay.
We do not tolerate certain behaviours in our restaurants from our guests regardless of their sex or sexuality. We also do not tolerate abusive behaviour towards our staff, which we feel was the core issue at hand.
These are very serious allegations but allegations they are and further investigation will take time but we will pursue this issue as it acts against our core values. We are treating this as a priority”.
Of course, we at LGBTicons know that there are three sides to every story, and in a time where London’s gay scene seems to be struggling, we hope that Balans’ investigation into the incident quickly leads to the truth.