Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Gay Men Who Attended This Chauvinist Event Were Part of a Horrid Hetero Charade

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Gay Men Who Attended This Chauvinist Event Were Part of a Horrid Hetero Charade

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Rinder

IT CAN'T have been a shock (even to the most boring, virtue-signalling pearl-clutcher on social media) that women- and men- only spaces still exist. My reaction to the Presidents Club's grim fundraising night was akin to my father's when I plucked up the courage to come out: "Yes Robert," he said, "I have met you!" I wonder, now that the party is well and truly over, whether my lack of surprise over the whole thing is that, as a gay man, I have the privilege (a rather fabulous one) of being invited into the semi-exclusive social worlds of women and men. I've been Spanx shopping and hen-doing on the one hand and had blokey nights with lads of limited emotional range on the other. Before semi-literate Twitter rage comes my way, I know, of course, that these examples are clearly not gender-exclusive. The fact is that there are some spaces where women prefer to be with women (along with a highly discerning gay man) and men prefer to be with other men (along with a highly discerning gay man). This is not the problem.

Sitting quite happily on the fence between these two worlds, I thought I had a pretty decent sense of what goes on. I was entirely wrong. The fact that men like hanging out with each other wasn't a shocker. But I was genuinely astonished to discover that events like the Presidents Club dinner still exist.

The gay men (closeted or not) who attended were playing their part in the horrid hetero charade that this sort of boorish yuk-fest was funny and cool. Being a member of the corporate world still, it seems, requires conscription into the pretence that this behaviour has to be tolerated in order to get on. I've been to countless charity nights, sentenced to one of the outer tables placed next to a "city boy" and his "don't-mind-me" humour. I entirely understand why these gay men feel trapped into colluding in the pretence that this is harmless fun, but going along with this is not OK.

I am certain that the dinner was utterly dull, replete with bum-clenching, cringey conversation. …

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