December 11, 2012
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
Even as a gay man from a small community, Alex Deagle never felt he had been discriminated against until last Friday night.
Deagle and his boyfriend Kirs Jay were on the dance floor at Jack Cameron’s Eatery and Nightclub in Charlottetown Friday when they were pulled aside by manager and co-owner Gordie Cameron. Cameron told them to stop kissing or they would have to leave.
He told the couple it was not because they were gay and reassured them he would have done the same for heterosexual couples.
Before the Deagle and Jay could react, Cameron gave both the men a free drink and they chose to leave.
“My first thought was how is this happening when every other person at the bar is kissing,” said Deagle. “Even girls are kissing and nothing is being said to them.”
The story of Friday night’s encounter quickly circulated on social media after the men posted their stories to their Facebook pages Saturday morning. Many protestors flocked to the Jack Cameron’s Facebook page to write posts of disapproval regarding the bar’s actions.
“It feels great to know that we are not alone in this,” said Deagle.
Jack Cameron’s is the new name for the disreputable Velvet Underground, a club on the corner of Kent and Prince Street formerly associated with drug dealing and usage.
The bar responded to the allegations Saturday afternoon in a Facebook post authored by Cameron. The bar made people feel uncomfortable until he took over two months ago, he said. Since then, he has been working to change its reputation, including stopping public displays of affection between couples.
Cameron again emphasized that it was not because the men were gay.
Deagle disagrees and views this as an act of discrimination.
The Canadian Human Rights Act outlines sexual orientation as one of the prohibited grounds for discrimination. In 1995, in Egan v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that gay couples should be subject to the same rights as other couples under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“It makes me upset that this sort of thing still happens on PEI in this day and age,” said Deagle.
The post and Jack Cameron’s Facebook page have since been removed.
“I’m not surprised in the least by his[Cameron’s] behavior,” said Laura Brothers, another Charlottetown resident who has had run ins with Cameron.
One evening, Cameron came into the restaurant where Brothers worked. He made inappropriate comments about the bar and the food and was asked to apologize and leave after making comments about the waitresses, said Brothers, who observed from the bar after working a ten-hour shift.
“I had not said anything to him all evening,” said Brothers. “He began yelling obscenities and cursing at me, while the bartender herded him out of the restaurant.”
“I certainly had not provoked him in any way, he received very good service at the restaurant and seemed to be in good spirits when he arrived,” said Brothers. “He’s a short, stocky man, who looks like he has been taking steroids for too long. He has an aggressive vibe about him.”
Brothers, Jay and Deagle are not the only ones to have aggressive encounters with Cameron.
“I was there for a year and half with Gus [Owner] and Preston [Manager] and then experienced more stress and drama with Gordie in 3 weeks than I thought was possible,” said one former employee.
Deagle will not be pursuing legal action, but would like an apology from Jack Cameron’s.
“I just hope that the bar learns from their mistakes and can improve from them.”