The facts, as far as we can ascertain, are plain. Two people, out on a first date in Soho, allow the moment to take them and have their first kiss. The landlord of the pub they have chosen for this sweet little moment, The John Snow, tells them to stop. Later that evening, they kiss again, and at this point they are told to leave by the landlady. One of the pair, Jonathan Williams, chose to vent his anger about the event on Twitter. Which is when the whole thing exploded. Because Jonathon and his date, James Bull, are gay.
The John Snow closed on Friday night, as a 400-strong protest snogathon took place outside. Another one is scheduled for next Thursday, and it’ll be interesting to see if the pub shuts again. Frankly, I doubt it. The point’s already been made, and the damage has been done. The management of The John Snow have managed to make themselves notorious in one night. Any arguments about whether Thomas Paget and his staff are homophobic are supplementary to one simple fact. A pub is a place to have fun. If the staff of said pub stop you having fun, then there’s a big problem.
Should Jonathon and his date, James Bull, have simply taken their business elsewhere? Perhaps, but I personally think they were right to stick to their guns and stay put. They weren’t doing anything wrong. Posting about it on Twitter was also fair enough. Jonathon was right to point out that the staff of The John Snow are anti-fun. Caitlin Moran made an excellent point:
Everything else that happened was a result of people on Twitter, Facebook and the press picking up on the story and organising. It’s not fair to say that Jonathan and James overstated the issue or portrayed themselves as victims. In the same position (I know I can’t be, but indulge me for the sake of argument) I probably would have run away – but I also would have boycotted the pub and bitched about the incident on every social network to which I belong.
Any pub that has rules against PDA (the illustration above is indeed on display in the JS) is not worth the bother. If the “house rules” prohibit snogging on the premises, that’s bad enough. If those rules prohibit gay snogging, then there’s legislation in place that makes that stance not just unacceptable but illegal, and in a worst case scenario, Paget could be up on charges. That’s unlikely to happen, but I bloody hope it’s front and centre in his thoughts at the moment.
I wonder if the reputation of the John Snow has been badly damaged now. It’s not as if they’re the only pub in Soho, and there is much talk on the Twitters of boycott. Meanwhile, Paget and the owners of the chain to which the pub belongs are silent on the issue. That’s as silly as the initial stance. Soho is not the place to allow an anti-gay rep to fester.
I’ve always seen the John Snow as a bit of a dump, and haven’t been through the doors of the place in years. That’s not likely to change after the dramas of the last few days. There are plenty of other places to get a drink within a two-minute walk, and the last time I looked, none of them were chucking people out for showing a little affection.
(pub sign via David Schneider)