Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Queercard? That'll Do Nicely, Sir; LIFESTYLE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Queercard? That'll Do Nicely, Sir; LIFESTYLE

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX BENADY

THE ruddy-faced sales assistant leaned forward and spat out his answer. "You," he said matter-of-factly, "must be f***ing joking."

Things had begun rather more politely. I'd gone into the builders' merchant, asked for a plastic U-bend for my kitchen sink, and proudly snapped down my brand new credit card on the counter to pay for it.

Perhaps he failed to grasp the historic nature of the moment.

The fact that this was the first purchase on the first outing of the world's first gay credit card clearly meant nothing to him.

So, in a voice rather louder than necessary, I asked: "Do you take Queercard?"

Little did he know, but in fact he did accept the first credit card aimed at Britain's gay community. Queercard, "the card that says just who you are", makes a donation to the gay-rights charity, Stonewall, the first time you use the card, and announces your sexuality to the world every time you get it out of your wallet.

Queercompany, the firm behind the venture, reckons the card will also improve the provision of goods and services for gay people by helping businesses assess the strength of their queer clientele.

The company claims, as of course it would, that Queercard is the ideal shopping companion for today's affluent and sophisticated homosexual consumer.

I'd decided to become gay for one day to gauge London's reaction to the new card.

It is, in fact, a Mastercard, so it is accepted pretty much everywhere. Not that the builders' merchant knew that, until I pointed out the logo in the corner. The cashier picked it up gingerly, as if it were a used condom. "It's all right, it's backed by Mastercard."

Then he tried to backtrack, if just a little. "Doesn't bother us of course, we're not xenophobic [sic]; we're just here to sell," he said. "I've never seen one before, that's all."

And then the banter started.

"Why can't I have a straight card" asked the plumber behind me in the queue. "Why can't I have a fat bastards card," chipped in a chubby sales assistant. "My card's bent anyway," shouted another.

Next stop: Brown's bar and bistro on St Martin's Lane for an orange juice. …

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