Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gay Bashing at a Gay Club: How Safe Are We Really?

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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all the awesome posts on your blog they are always very informative, could you please clarify that you have indeed contacted or went to see the owners of the establishment to confirm the facts of the above post?

Pierre le Roux said...

Anonymous, I can confirm that I did contact the owner, manager and PRO of the club. They responded to my questions as detailed in this blog post. Furthermore, I also contacted the victim in this case Pieter Henning and he provided me with information surrounding the attack. Inquiries were also made with the Police. So I am confident that the facts in this blog post is in fact correct as they were relayed to me.

Anonymous said...

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.

These are your comments in your post, and seem a bit on the selfish side my reasons as set out below.

I know Pieter personally and have known him for many many years, but also know the owners of Rasputin, whom are very anti-homophobic people and in fact prefer to stand strong when it comes to standing up for gay rights, in no way do they condone what has happened, as this is a very shocking experience, Pieter is a awesome person and does not deserve this.

There have been upgrades to the premises for the last few months and there are alot to follow, and the owners have implemented plans to spend the money, on beefing up the security as well as many other features to ensure the safety of its patrons, I can honestly mention that some of my other personal friend were at the venue on the night of the assualt, and the owner who was there was inside the venue, whilst the attack ws going on outside in the parking and as he heard of the assualt he made his way to the exit, and to his shock he noticed what was happening and immediately contacted the police, both the owners are Gay and would never condone an assualt on any gay, lesbian,transgender or bi-sexual member of our community.

This tragic event has been largely thrown out of preportion and every other owner and blogger is trying to capitalize out of the event.

We as a gay community fight for rights as equals but when something like this occurs we dont get all the fact before we post emotional and incorrect statements.

The fact that the owners of the establishment is being blamed for a something that was out of their control.

Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.
~Martina Navratilova

Pierre le Roux said...

Anonymous, just for the record I believe that I and many other people would put more weight to your comments and take them seriously if you actually have the courage to do it under your real name instead of hiding behind anonymity.

I stand by what I wrote. In the club response to me they said they had no bouncers due to the economy (they didn't want to spent money on bouncers). They can't afford bouncers but they could afford to make cosmetic changes to the venue. Only now after this has happened there is mention of beefing up security. I find that quite convenient to say the least.

According to the SAPS this incident was not an isolated incident and there have been quite a few gay bashings or incidents where the SAPS had to come out to that venue. In fact on the same night that Pieter Henning was assaulted another gay patron at the same venue was also assaulted by the same men earlier. They broke his jaw!

As for suggesting that this was thrown out of proportion, I take great umbrage to that and the fact that you attempt to trivialized this. Perhaps you are the one that need to NOT be so selective about the facts you choose to share here.

And yes, I do blame the management for what happened. If they acted decisively with the first assault the second one could have been prevented.

So please stop trying to cover up or trivialize what happened. If a venue is not safe to go to for any reason what so ever. The LGBT community has the right to know.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply Pierre,

I would firstly like to mention that my anonymity is not of importance, what is, is that the people who did this be held liable and not the venue, what about the bashings that happened at other gay venues, one of the most prestigeous venues in Pretoria had a series of gay bashings and nothing came of this..

If we as a community stand together in getting rid of the culprits instead of the venues, then we make progress.

You have obviously misunderstood what i was trying to say, I am not in defense of anybody, what I am trying to say is that we shouldnt judge people for the actions of other people.

Would you seriously sue FNB or avoid it if yu get robbed in the bank whilst they get robbed themselves?!?

What happened LIKE I SAID BEFORE is shocking and very saddening, and i wish it had never happened to such a nice person.

We should try to stand together in the fight againt homophobia and supporting the people who are victoms of such events, rather than place a black spot on the venue blaming them for what had happened.

Its would be the same as me blaming the ANC for being hi-jacked last year and sueing the government.

My only intention ever is to be fair and to not only listen to the one side of a story.

The men who did this to Pieter should be the ones being punished, this goes without a doubt.

Also if you are trying to implicate that my comments are because I know the owners, you are sadly mistaken I have been part of the gay community before it was even legal to be out in public, and fight really hard for ALL gay rights not only the victims of bshings or hate crimes but also for the prosper of all gay, lesbian, transgender, and bi-sexual people.

Pierre le Roux said...

I take your point anonymous. I guess we would have to agree to disagree. Taking into consideration that the perpetrators was employees of the venue at the time of these two assaults is what formulate my bias for blaming the venue's management. Furthermore, this is substantiated by the fact that they failed to step in after the first assault.

Yes, the perpetrators should face the full brunt of the law, but like I said in my blog post, where does the responsibility of the club fall. This is meant to get people to talk about these issues and for club owners to start opening their eyes and see that the LGBT community want safe places to gather.

If a venue does not have measures to ensure our safety, why should we as the LGBT community risk our lives to go and support such venues.

I am all for supporting LGBT business, and I do want all LGBT people to prosper. BUT NOT at the expense of our own community and NOT when there is exploitation involved.

Yes violent crime is a problem in South Africa and yes gay hate crimes still occur and they will seek out LGBT venues to commit these crimes. This is why we should be vigilant and why LGBT venues should admit their responsibility to make sure that such venues are safe for all. Passing the buck will NOT work.

Gee Gee Curtained said...

Dear 'Anonymous'...
I'm sorry my dear but your comments stink of trying to smooth things over. I agree with Pierre 100% -it is the owners responsibility to make sure his patrons are safe! There are NO excuses. I used to own a pub too and even though there were many hairy moments, nothing ever resulted in violence. That was thanks to me and the security I provided, even outside. So once again, no excuses! Pierre would never publish something like this before checking the facts and FYI, bloggers can't capitalise on something like this. 'Capitalise' suggests payment and bloggers don't get paid, so get our own facts straight first please. You mention that Pierre's comment '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..' seems a bit on the selfish side? So, what you're in fact saying is that not wanting to spend money at an establishment that doesn't ensure one's safety is selfish?? What utter unadulterated BULLSHIT!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely and assure you that this is definately something we as the gay community should seriously face as its not getting better, there should be stricter laws regarding things like hate crimes and gay-bashings.

Also the owners are not completely without fault (as we all are) and all club owners should do their best to ensure the safety of the patrons.

Thank you once again for all your posts.



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