Revealed: Homophobia is rife in Cambridge clubs

LGBT+ women have reported being targeted by bouncers

Cambridge Clubbing discrimination Fez glitterbomb homophobia LGBT Life

Cambridge is not as liberal as we think. Last year, a Tab journalist received a tap on the shoulder in Life after getting with someone of the same sex, and was promptly told "gay night is on a Tuesday."

Since then, The Tab has gathered multiple testimonials from people who have been targeted for kissing people of the same sex.

All of the testimonials gathered here are specifically from gay women, who relayed their experiences and expressed their disappointment with the Cambridge clubbing scene. Given the sensitive nature of this topic, all testimonials have been given anonymously.

Aside from the experiences detailed here, The Tab received six other accounts – the details of which testifiers would prefer to remain confidential – which also came from LGBT+ women, relating to experiences of discrimination in Cambridge clubs.

One student explained: "I (a girl) was getting with a girl in Fez, and while we weren't being exactly subtle, it was definitely PG13, nothing below the belt, all hands above clothes etc. We'd broken away from the crowd a little bit and are against a wall when a bouncer comes up to us and asks us to separate or he's going to have to ask us to leave.

"We broke it and moved to another area of the club and found the group of friends we have come in with, but were once again interrupted by the same bouncer. It was like he was following us, and we both felt very uncomfortable with the dynamic of the situation at that point. It was a super bizarre situation as I have definitely done much less appropriate things in a club environment with boys and not had any kind of reaction from the bouncers whatsoever."

She continued, "Like, to a certain extent I get creepy, voyeuristic men staring and being gross and trying to join in and shouting and the like but there's something about when it's bouncers, who are supposed to be there to make sure everyone's safe and having a good time, using that dynamic seemingly exclusively against queer women.

"Almost everyone has a story about it, and it's honestly not really on. I've seen men choking each other in clubs and not being called out on it, so I don't even necessarily think it's a homophobia thing and I've been assaulted by men in a very public way and had bouncers do nothing. Nothing has had such a visceral hard-line stance as me getting with a girl."

Ian Freeman, as a spokesperson for Eclectic Bars Ltd., owners of Fez Cambridge told us:

"We were very upset to hear of this matter and would like to thank The Tab for bringing it to our attention. We habitually respond to any complaints from customers immediately and are not aware of any communication from the customer herself regarding this issue, which we believe occurred some time ago.

"Our company has never, and would never, discriminate against guests on the basis of race, colour, gender identity or sexual orientation. Displays of affection between couples are commonplace in late-night venues and we would not take issue with them provided they are within the bounds of common decency.

"We are in the process of conducting an internal inquiry into this issue. In the meantime we will remind security staff, who are provided to us by an outside agency, of our policies."

However, the experience detailed here was not an isolated incident. One student told The Tab:

"I'm a cis woman but had never got with a girl in a club in Cambridge until my final year because I wasn't out and comfortable with my sexuality. But one night I was feeling confident and started getting with a girl in my friend group [who] I also knew was gay.

"It was so innocent, literally just kissing and all of my friends were getting with other people, but of a different sex. Suddenly a bouncer came up and grabbed me on the arm and told me and my friend we were 'too drunk' and needed to leave.

"I had literally had maybe a pint, that was all, and was definitely not drunk. My other friends were in a far worse state, but they were allowed to continue being in the club getting with whoever they wanted whilst me and the girl I got with were forced to go wait outside alone."

Another person raised concerns that she had been targeted at Glitterbomb, a night specifically for the LGBT+ community, as she was a queer woman:

"I was getting off with a girl in a club and though it was not exactly kid-friendly, it was again all above the waist and hands above clothes. We were sat on a bench and were asked by a female bouncer to ‘tone it down’ or risk being ‘asked to leave’.

"The bizarre thing is, this was at Glitterbomb, and there were pairs of men around us – literally two feet away from us – who were being FAR more explicitly sexual with each other. We, and others I was with, were pretty confused. I chalked this up to a one-off incidence or mistake, but I’m concerned to hear this may be a pattern of discrimination against queer women – even in a supposedly LGBT+ targeted spaced."

In response to this, a spokesperson from Glitterbomb, hosted in Kuda (known to students as Life) gave The Tab this response:

"The door staff will on occasion speak to anyone regardless of gender and sexual orientation (on any night they operate, not just Glitterbomb) if they make a judgement that things are getting a little…. 'less kid-friendly', as your reader puts it. She can rest assured that far from being discriminative maybe she just turns up the heat a little more than she thinks she does!"

They did not outline anything that they would do to prevent such allegations in the future, nor any protective and preventative measures in place to prevent discrimination.

CUSU LGBT+ told The Tab: "CUSU LGBT+ is saddened to hear of issues of harassment and inappropriate conduct towards LGBT+ women in Cambridge clubs. However, we want to stress that this is not a fatality – nightclubs have a responsibility to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, and reporting such issues allows us to contact club managers and hold them and their staff to account.

"We have an anonymous contact form for cases of LGBT+phobia, available here. Anything submitted through this form will go to our Welfare Officer (and to any other rep when relevant), and we will do our best to address the issue that you have faced."