Hundreds attend kiss-in outside John Snow pub after venue closes its doors

15th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Soho pub which ejected gay couple for 'obscene' kissing closes in bid to thwart protest but kiss-in continues right outside Follow today's developments in our kissing in public live blogThe pub at the centre of a homophobia row was forced to close its doors, after hundreds of people committed to attend a "gay kiss-in" at the venue.The John Snow, in Soho, central London, became the focus of unwanted attention when James Bull and Jonathan Williams were asked to leave on Wednesday night by a staff member who allegedly described the couple's kissing as "obscene".Williams tweeted about the incident, which propelled him and Bull, who were on their first date, to the attention of national media, leading to plans for a "gay kiss-in" Facebook event, scheduled for 7pm on Friday. The John Snow, perhaps wary of the impending siege, closed at around 3.30pm, leaving bemused drinkers locked out on the street with beverages in hand, according to one bystander.Around 300 people attended the scheduled kiss-in, which took place despite the closure of the pub and included Bull, Williams and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell. Just after 7pm mass co-ordinated kissing took place in the street, to whoops of encouragement from a growing crowd. "It's still a victory," said Paul Shetler, a senior director at an IT firm. "They've wound up losing a night's takings because they couldn't have a bunch of men with tongues in each others' mouths."Encouraged by a large media presence, one attendee attempted to pin a rainbow flag to the door frame of the pub, which bore no signs of life.The event had been in the planning since the early hours of Thursday, when Shetler first heard the news of Bull and Williams's ejection through Twitter.Bull, a charity volunteer, and Williams, a journalist for a financial magazine, had dined in Covent Garden on Wednesday evening before strolling to the John Snow, which Williams said he was accustomed to visiting around once a week.The date followed its natural progression but when the pair began to kiss they were asked to leave the pub, first by a man claiming to be the landlord, who said their display of affection was "bothering" him, and later by a woman in staff uniform who said she was the landlady and found their kissing "obscene".Bull, 23, and Williams, 26, deny having behaved in any unseemly way. "We weren't being over the top," Williams said. "I'm not the kind of person to do that kind of thing in public." After leaving the pub, Bull, who said he was physically sick following the confrontation, called the police who are investigating the incident while Williams turned to Twitter: "Seven years in London & I've never been made to feel bad for being gay. 45 min ago the John Snow pub, W1F had me removed for kissing a date," he tweeted.His post was retweeted hundreds of times and spotted by Shetler. "Rather than just accepting it, I thought we should just go there and have a massive kiss-in," he said. Shetler switched focus from one social networking website to another, and the Facebook event "gay kiss-in" was born, to an "overwhelming" response.The event urged same-sex individuals to engage in passionate kissing in the pub. "Don't talk, just kiss," Shetler wrote, using the lyrics from Right Said Fred's seminal 1991 hit in his guidance to attendees, who were also advised: "Don't buy anything."The John Snow has refused to comment on Bull and Williams's allegations, while Samuel Smith's brewery, which operates the pub, has not replied to the Guardian's calls. The pub closed its doors at around 3.30pm on Friday, according to Richard Lally, an investment adviser for a film finance company directly opposite."We noticed a lot of people coming out and we thought it was a bit strange as they all still had drinks in their hands," he said.Lally added that after the pub closed "loads of people" began to arrive. "I'm not really sure why they've closed it. It's the worst thing they could have done they should have just let it happen," Lally said.Natalie Curran, a 31-year-old TV producer, said she was drinking outside the pub when it was closed. "The guy on the door said the landlord didn't want to stay open because of the number of people who might come," she said.The Metropolitan police said it had not advised closure of the premises and there were no plans for an increased police presence around the pub.LondonBritish identity and societyGay rightsAdam © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

0 Comments To This Article