Earlier this month the co-owner of a Montreal bar named Les Torchés refused to serve a gay customer, even refusing him access to the washroom.
On the night of December 2 to 3, after a long night of drinking, Francis and a friend decided to grab one last drink at a bar in Montreal’s trendy Plateau Mont-Royal district.
On arriving in the bar, half an hour before closing time, one of the owners, Christian Morin, asked Francis: “Are you gay?” Francis says he was surprised by the question, but took it in a funny, even seductive way, and responded “yes.” The bar owner responded “we don’t serve gays here.” Francis responded “are you joking?”
“No, no, we do not serve gay people here,” reiterated Mr. Morin. Francis then asked if he could at least use the washroom, but was denied again and told to leave the establishment.
The result? Francis relieved himself in the alley adjacent to the bar, because he was unable to go inside, and was given a $321 fine by a passing police officer. Francis tried to explain the situation to the police, without success.
Meanwhile, his friend who remained inside took up his defence. The tone elevated with the owner, who invited him to “take it outside.” The two men left the bar, and Francis’ friend found himself facing the bar’s bouncers, who hit him from all sides.
“It’s true that we were drunk, and that my friend has a history with the bar, he’s not a choir boy,” Francis told Ricochet. “But it doesn’t excuse the homophobic remarks that Mr. Morin made. My friend was just trying to come to my defence.”
Following comments posted to the bar’s Facebook page denouncing the incident (now erased), the bar’s manager, Benoît Tessier, responded that the bar is open to everyone, and that given everyone had been drinking, remarks could have been misinterpreted on both sides.
The Facebook profile photo of the bar was changed on December 13 to the colours of the pride flag to insist on its openness to the gay community.
Francis remains indignant. “I didn’t invent these words which were said, or the fact that I was refused access to the washroom.”
The musician and hairdresser says he was shocked by the owner’s words, and remains emotionally shaken by the events. “I can’t believe that this kind of speech is still acceptable in 2016. I don’t want to hurt the bar, but what Mr. Morin said is unacceptable, and it must be denounced.”
By press time, Mr. Morin had not responded to multiple requests for comment. Following the publication of this article in its original French, Mr. Morin sent Ricochet the response he published on the bar’s Facebook page.
Recently, two clients visited the Les Torchés for a final drink just before closing. Unfortunately, one of the two is no longer allowed on the premises due to inappropriate behaviour in the past.
My responsibility that evening was to ask him to leave. But my responsibility was not to insult them, even if I had already had several drinks that evening.
Spirits got heated, and I hinted that these clients were not welcome because of their sexual orientation. I do not recognize myself in these comments.
Our establishment has always and always will rely on employees of diverse sexual orientations. We are grateful to all our clients, regardless of their origin or sexual preferences. The language I used was inappropriate and I apologize.
To all our clients, I look forward to welcoming you again and regaining the atmosphere that made Les Torchés a success.