Jonathan Williams says he and his date, James Bull, were asked to leave after sharing what they described as a “hands-on-the-table” kiss at the John Snow pub in London’s Soho, normally known as one of London’s gay-friendliest neighborhoods.
Anger snowballed after Williams tweeted about the incident late Wednesday, and within 24 hours, the story was on the front page of Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the pair were describing their ordeal on national radio.
The pub declined comment Friday, but its management could be seeing quite a crowd later in the evening. Hundreds have signed up to a Facebook group promising a three-hour kiss-in at the Snow, and the Guardian has — half-jokingly — offered rolling coverage of the controversy.
The kiss-in’s organizer, 50-year-old Paul Shetler, said he first heard about the incident on Twitter.
“I found it very disturbing because I knew of two separate incidents when gay couples were barred from pubs in the past month,” he said. “I imagine that it must be humiliating for the couple and I didn’t think we should let that pass.”
Shetler said that even in Soho, an area bedecked with rainbow flags and dotted with gay clubs, some still thought that “it’s OK to be queer in a gay club, but not in a straight place — which is not acceptable.” Neither Williams nor Bull returned requests for comment, but in a series of messages Williams expressed wonder at the speed with which the gay community had rallied to his defense.
Wednesday night “was my first ‘The Power of Twitter’ moment,” he wrote in a post to the micro-blogging website.
“Thank you very much everyone.” As to whether they’d be seeing each other again, Bull assured his Twitter followers that the two had “already arranged a second date before we even got to the pub!”