A Manchester gay club is embroiled in an online row after a transgender clubber claimed he was ejected in the early hours of Sunday morning because a bouncer mistook his autism for drunkeness.
Update: MM hoped to show the CCTV footage as the venue agreed to send it to us, however we have yet to receive it. If/when we do, we will publish the update.
Bouncers at Princess Street’s Alter Ego are also alleged to have ‘misgendered’ the man after he was repeatedly called ‘she’ despite protests otherwise at the incident, which happened around 2am.
However the licensee for Alter Ego where the ‘Poptastic’ night was held maintains that James Fox was rejected from re-entry due to being drunk and that it has nothing to do with Fox’s autism.
An Alter Ego spokesman explained that Fox was ‘observed within the smoking area and appeared to be intoxicated’.
“The decision was then made not to allow re entry on the grounds the person appeared to be intoxicated,” she said.
One of the group, Josie Stripe, tweeting as @josiepublic, documented the events on social site Storify and the page has since attracted more than 1,000 views as members of Manchester’s gay community vented their anger at the club.
And the 25-year-old care support worker vowed to start a campaign to tackle the issue.
I promise here and now that I will ALWAYS start a campaign against any venue which turns away a friend for being autistic. @PoptasticMCR
— Josie (public) (@josiepublic) August 3, 2014
James hit back at the club today, blasting the bouncers’ ‘aggressive misgendering’ and calling the half-hour ordeal the ‘most unpleasant experience’ after the accusations of drunkenness.
“The overwhelming feeling was feeling upset and afraid, especially in a place I thought was safe,” he said.
The 21-year-old has been to Poptastic many times before and has even had problems with entry before.
James told MM that door staff had quizzed him on whether his identification photo matched his face at a previous visit before turning a deaf ear to his protests because of the stutter and eye contact avoidance brought on by his condition.
“I noticed that they certainly didn’t interrogate everybody in the line about whether they were really who they said they were,” said James, who was left feeling victimised by staff.
And the treatment from Poptastic’s doormen has left James questioning whether he wants to return.
“Without an apology or explanation from the staff, no I probably wouldn’t (return). I’m certainly not going to become less autistic so I don’t trust that they wouldn’t just do the same thing again,” said James.
“Unfortunately, as a disabled queer transgender person, I don’t really feel safe going out anywhere else either. I had thought Poptastic was one safe place. Now I don’t feel like that anymore.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of being ‘too drunk’ in Manchester, but the most unpleasant experience for sure
— trantastic mr fox (@BleakestTwink) August 3, 2014
Josie agreed with James that the whole incident has left her questioning whether she would be where in she and her friends can go in Manchester for a night out.
“The incident left me annoyed. I’m getting married next month, I’ve got a baby son and Saturday was supposed to be one last fun night out as I don’t get much of a chance to do it anymore,” said Josie, who is seeking an apology and a commitment to disability training from Alter Ego.
“It also made me feel worried about the same thing happening to me if I do manage to go out in future. There are already very few venues I can go to with my friends and this is another one off the list.“
After the group aired their disgust directly at the venue, resident DJ Danny Beard got in touch via direct messages on Twitter to offer a free drink on a return visit.
The group turned down the consolation, causing the DJ to respond with a rant, blasting them for getting ‘too pissed’ and urging them to ‘grow up’.
Don’t get why you guys come to pop get too pissed and kick off a massive twitter hatred campaign to the club … Grow up
— Danny Beard (@thedannybeard) August 3, 2014
Danny refused the claims that door staff had rejected the man for his disability.
“I find it hard to believe how a venue I work with can be labelled as disablist,” Danny told MM.
“The door team who run Alter Ego do an amazing job each week keeping everyone safe.”
@thedannybeard I wasn’t aware autistic people couldn’t also be drunk
— Chloe Ann Wright (@chloeannwright) August 4, 2014
Confirming that the door staff had ‘no issues’ in admitting the group an hour before the incident, Danny insisted that the group verbally abused staff by ‘screaming at them’ claiming they were not drunk.
Calling the resulting social media campaign ‘wrong and uncalled for’, Danny told of how the Poptastic Twitter page has been inundated with a ‘barrage of abuse’ following the incident.
“As the face of the venue it is my place to speak out, the story is based on a lie,” said Danny.
“If someone is autistic and drunk they are still drunk, if someone is gay and drunk they are still drunk.
“The door staff are there to protect everyone. And it is law not to serve a drunk person alcohol. If they have abuse screamed at them by a party of people then that party are going to be unable to re-enter.”
Other members of the group and fellow Canal Street clubbers have also took to Twitter to voice their concerns at the incident and making further allegations that the bouncers were heavy-handed in dealing with the situation.
— flu incarnate (@adragonbee) August 3, 2014
Feeling the rage at the Poptastic door staff. Hope the venue’s response is nicer than that of the venue when similar issues occurred at DOMO
— clatter-bones (@notwaving) August 3, 2014
Main image via Google Maps, with thanks.