Gay man alleges bias after kissing beau at wine bar

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Bay Area Reporter

Saturday August 8, 2009

A gay San Francisco man has reported that he and his boyfriend were kicked out of a local wine cafe over the weekend after they kissed each other.

On Saturday, August 1, about 50 people gathered in front of the business, Internos Wine Cafe, and held a kiss-in in protest of the bar's alleged actions.

Joshua Barry, 26, said that at about 11:15 p.m. on Friday, July 31, he and his boyfriend, Sebastian Schilbe, 26, stopped at the cafe, located at 3240 Geary Boulevard, before going to the Midnight Mass movie show nearby.

Barry, who's also known as Joshzilla, asked at the bar if there was an ATM. He said that the owner told him no, but that there was a cash machine two blocks away.

Barry said that he then turned to his boyfriend and gave him a hug, and the two kissed and talked about what to do next.

He said that the owner of the bar shouted at them that they were "faggots" and "perverts," told them their behavior was inappropriate and they needed to get out, and grabbed Barry by his T-shirt and dragged him out of the bar.

Another man pushed Schilbe around, said Barry.

He said that outside the bar, the two asked if they were really being thrown out of the bar for being gay.

Barry said that the owner of the bar said he didn't want them there, and the doorman told them that if they ever tried to come back, the same thing was going to happen.

He said that the bar has claimed that he and Schilbe, who's from Germany, were taking their clothes off and trying to dance on a table, which Barry said is "entirely untrue."

"We didn't have any time to start dancing or taking our clothes off," he said. Besides, "I'm not that kind of boy anyway."

A statement dated August 2 and posted on the cafe's Web site said that after being told where an ATM was, two gentlemen had gone to use a single stall bathroom together, and had not ordered anything from the bar.

After the men had left the bathroom, customers had claimed "inappropriate behavior" was taking place, the statement said.

According to the statement, others observed the two men making out, putting their hands in each other's pants and starting to disrobe from the waist down.

A staff member asked them to leave "and then had to escort them out of the bar forcefully when the two men became confused and aggressive. There were absolutely no derogatory terms exchanged," the statement said.

No one from Internos responded to a Bay Area Reporter e-mail or answered the phone Tuesday afternoon, August 4.

Barry said after leaving the bar, he and Schilbe went to Mel's Drive-In and called the police, but police declined to make a report or take pictures.

"They said that we must have been causing trouble and we should not go back there and cause any more trouble," said Barry.

Sergeant Lyn Tomioka, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Police Department, could not provide comment on the officers' alleged actions by press time.

Barry, who did not get the two officers' names, said that he plans to file a grievance with the police department, but Tomioka said the "most appropriate action" would be to file a complaint with the Office of Citizen Complaints, or speak with Richmond District Captain Richard Corriea.

Barry said he also plans to file a grievance against the bar with the Better Business Bureau, and meet with Alex Randolph, Mayor Gavin Newsom's liaison to the LGBT community.

National kiss-in

The kiss-in last weekend is just the latest action that seems to have grown in popularity since two gay men were detained by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last month after one of them kissed the other on the cheek on the Mormon-owned Main Street Plaza in Salt Lake City. The men were later cited by police for trespassing, but the charges were dropped. A large kiss-in was held there recently, with about 100 gay and straight people participating.

Locally, another kiss-in is planned for San Francisco. On August 15, people can take part in the Great Nationwide Kiss-In from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Union Square, downtown. The action is a response to recent events, including the one in Salt Lake City and at Internos.

According to organizers, about 30 cities will be participating. Gays are asked to bring straight supporters "because without the majority we, as a minority, will never achieve national rights without their support," said a statement from organizers.

Glendon Hyde and Brett Helms joined nearly 50 other participants for a visible show of kissing in front of the Internos Wine Cafe Saturday, August 1 following the ejection of Joshua Barry and his boyfriend Sebastian Schilbe from the wine bar the night before.

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