HOMOPHOBE CLAIM SPARKS STAG ROW
An incident on V-Day got positioned on social media as bias against same-sex love. The hospitality industry hits back, saying this is necessary for business
While Valentine’s Day was all about a good time for couples, it wasn’t as pleasant for stags. The males of the species, unless they’re accompanied by at least one woman, aren’t looked upon favourably by nightclub managers in Delhi — several establishments in other cities also follow this policy.
This Valentine’s Day, at a popular nightspot in central Delhi’s Connaught Place, two single men claimed that they were a gay couple. This claim was dismissed as a ruse and the two had to leave. Thus began a social media battle, triggering a debate on the bigger picture: why do clubs in India bar stag entry?
An angry Facebook post by Apratim De, one of the two men involved, was followed by a blog — he positioned the episode as homophobia, a claim refuted by the establishment’s owner, Priyank Sukhija. The latter shot back on social media that the men weren’t gay, as the blog itself admitted, and why couldn’t they just respect establishment rules?
Speaking to HT City, Sukhija says, “Our theme was Valentine’s [Day], we had couple songs playing, and I strictly told my staff that no stags were to be let in. When these guys told the guards that they were gay, the guards thought they were making an excuse just to gain entry and hence they stopped them. Why did it have to become an ego issue and be blown out of proportion? They weren’t the only stags we stopped.”
Restaurateurs say that they have become more cautious after past cases of misbehaviour by single men or groups of men. “It does happen often that a bunch of stags misbehave with single girls,” says industry member Akshay Anand. “Even if they don’t, girls get uncomfortable if there are too many stags. Ten stags will make two girls uncomfortable, whereas two single girls won’t make ten guys uncomfortable.”
Male club-goers contest the rule. Viren Aggarwal, an entrepreneur, asks, “How can you guarantee that a committed man won’t make single girls uncomfortable?”
Amit Yadav, a corporate employee, questions, “What about those of us who belong to decent families and know how to respect girls? Should we not get to party?”
The women would still prefer it if stags were kept out. Mahima Sharma (name changed) recalls a recent incident in which a group of stags passed leering comments on the clothes of her girl group as they went out clubbing.
Representing the LGBTQ community, Anshul Sharma says, “We were once stopped outside a club in Connaught Place for being stags. When we told them we were gay couples, they let us in without any issues.”
Why did it have to become an ego issue and be blown out of proportion? They weren’t the only stags we stopped PRIYANK SUKHIJA, RESTAURATEUR Ten stags will make two girls uncomfortable, whereas two single girls won’t make ten guys uncomfortable AKSHAY ANAND, RESTAURATEUR