All 21-year-old Hannah Riley wanted was to celebrate her friend’s birthday at one of the swankiest gay clubs in London. But her fun was completely ruined when she was refused entry into the club. Now, she wants to the world to know about the injustice she suffered at the hands of a merciless doorman.
It all started last Friday evening when Riley and her friends went to the popular SoHo nightclub G-A-Y.
“We were about halfway to the front,” Riley, a lesbian, tells Buzzfeed in an interview, “and one of the security staff–a woman–said to me, ‘Er, ladies, have you got membership cards?’ And we said, ‘No.’ And she replied, ‘Well, you girls can’t come in then.’”
Riley tried appealing to the nearby doorman, but she says he just looked at her with a stone cold expression on his face and replied: “You’ve already been told you can’t come in, so why are you still here?”
So Riley and her friends went to another gay club called Heaven. When they got there, she says they faced a similar dilemma. As they approached the female security guard, Riley recalls, “she asked if we had membership cards and we said, ‘No we don’t,’ and she said, ‘Right, you can’t come in.’”
She continues: “I said, ‘This is really sexist,’ and left.”
Two police officers happened to be standing nearby, so Riley approached them. At this point, she was crying, but the officers were unsympathetic towards her plight.
“I said, ‘They didn’t let me in because I was a woman.’ They [the police officers] just laughed at me.”
Defeated and upset, she and her friends caught the bus home. Their Friday night had been completely sabotaged.
In response to the treatment, Riley penned an open letter to G-A-Y on her blog, accusing the club of practicing poor “allyship” and not “embracing a diverse community.” She also criticized the two police officers “whose job it is to protect me” for laughing at her when her feelings were clearly very hurt.
Riley hopes that by sharing her story with the world, she will raise awareness to the issue of unfair treatment of women by gay men.
“I’ve had really awful experiences in [straight] clubs,” she says. “So I don’t like going to places that aren’t gay, so when I got turned away I was so upset. If I can’t go to the most famous gay bars in London, [then] where should I go?”
She continues: “I think the LGBT scene is just for gay men. It’s sad that women are put off going to gay bars. Why put yourself through queuing up if there’s a strong chance you’re not going to get in?”
As for bathrooms in gay bars, that’s a huge problem, too, Riley says.
“I’ve been to gay venues and used the men’s toilet because there’s a huge queue in the women’s. That should be a place where people don’t give you a funny look, and still the men are like, ‘Why are you in here?’”
She continues: “Gay men could be more open-minded and recognize the problem [of long lines in the women’s bathroom] and recognize they are in a privileged position: They can go out on a gay night and be surrounded by gay men in a place that caters exactly for their needs.”