— KU BAR (@Kubar) April 7, 2017
My attention was brought to this gem of an LGBTQ tweet today by friends who had been commenting on it, but before I say anything more I’d like to point out that I have been in the past a regular of Ku Bar. From Charing Cross Road, to Lisle Street, and finally all of the other bars holding the name that have opened. I hold no malice for a bar that was part of my coming out and first years in London. The old Ku Bar and its community ethos (unfortunately long forgotten) hold many happy memories. This piece isn’t an affront to Gary, nor anyone who works there beyond whomever is currently misunderstanding how Social Media functions.
The LGBTQ+ community has a problem.
The problem is that as the LGBTQ+ community we appeal for equality within society; inclusion and speak of diversity within society at large whilst not applying that to our own community. The visceral response on Twitter to this ad has shown how diversity is still very much lacking in what is predominantly a community ruled by gay white males. All you need do is look at advertising campaigns such as this; the numerous spreads in gay magazines, and the bar staff in Soho to see the portrayal of ‘the body beautiful’. I hate it. Obviously so do many others.
As a study of PR the response from the @kubar account has been horrendous. Those that mocked the advert for its misuse of words such as ‘diversity’ and ‘equality’ on an advert which has neither of those things were quickly blocked. It’s never a good idea for a brand to argue with its followers, even going so far as blocking them because the person responding through the brand account takes it personally. What starts as people airing their issues with a lack of diversity in your advertising will quickly become a PR disaster. It adds fuel to the fire that those very same people missing from your advertising are the ones being blocked.
— Jake Johnstone (@hijakejohnstone) April 8, 2017
Diversity is something that the LGBTQ+ community clearly has an issue with. Not because of the transgender or lesbian people in our community but because of white male privilege. White men are the most powerful voice there is. On the hierarchy of diversity gay white males would be placed higher than persons of colour, for example a black white male, and even higher still than a black lesbian. When someone in a position of power voices their opinion supporting a lack of diversity, yet is a white gay male we have an issue. It’s all too painfully obvious how broken diversity is in our community when this person is on the board of Pride in London and supposedly speaks on behalf of our community:
@Kubar @BoyzMagazine @SohoConfessions @QXMagazine @NiekoOfficial @Stefanos_Di @marticharli @SteveLuetchford Diversity comes in many forms, many not visible – to attack a b&w photo purely based on perceived perceptions of ethnicity is totally wrong
— Andrew Jones (@ajlondonuk) April 8, 2017
As a community we need to stop rehashing the same story, ‘being a white male is the ideal’, or ‘having a gym membership makes you desirable’. We need to stop perpetuating what the gay media would have us believe; that persons of colour don’t fit into our ideal of desirability. Nothing has been said of the lack of women in this advert when of course women are part of our community, but this advert shows a horrifying lack of diversity and inclusion. How can it be #loveislove if an entire gender is left off, let alone proportional representation of cultures, ethnicity, size, body type, and the wondrous diversity our community has?
We cannot scream for equality in society in general when we will happily defend bad advertising like this that perpetuates a white male, body beautiful, carefully crafted image of the perfect male. That’s not diversity, and it’s certainly not the LGBTQ+ community that I’m part of.
We have an issue, and we need to keep fighting it. Diversity is everyone, not just an airbrushed image of what we as a community should ‘aspire’ to.
Just be yourself.
You’re beautiful just the way you are. The pride flag doesn’t have one colour after all.
Edit: Since writing this post the @kubar account started retweeting offensive tweets attacking those that had questioned the campagn, the above tweet by Jake Johnstone is an example. To retweet a repugnant response to the very people you expect to drink in your bars, your own community, any goodwill I had has gone. If I’m ever in Soho with friends I’ll make sure not to go into a Ku Bar again.