Paul Whitbread has been removed from his position as promoter of LBGT nights at The Place.
This follows prolonged animosity between CUSU and Whitbread last year, when they stopped working together on promotion of student nights after complaints from students that the name of the LBGT night Whitbread promoted, ‘Thrust’, was “overtly sexual” and “aggressive”.
Matthew Morgan, CUSU Ents Manager, said that there were “difficulties in the working relationship between CUSU and Thrust Promotions” which led to CUSU distancing themselves from Whitbread and setting up a separate gay night on Tuesdays, ‘Rendezvous at Revolution’.
After the split, the name ‘Thrust’ was changed to ‘Allsorts’, which was felt to be more inclusive, but there were again complaints from CUSU after The Place hired Jo O’Meara, a “known racist”, as a celebrity guest to launch the night.
Whitbread said he did not want to comment on the nature of his breakdown in relations with The Place as he felt it was “of a confidential nature”. Simon Burdus, however, who worked with him in the promotion of The Place, told The Cambridge Student (TCS) that he believed “broken promises and low numbers over the summer months played a part.”
A Facebook group has been set up to get Whitbread reinstated, apparently by his supporters, however this group has only received 5 wall posts. Whitbread said that he would consider taking back the position as promoter of the night if the management of The Place listened to the calls on Facebook, but added that since he is currently awaiting an operation this might not be possible.
The Facebook group complains that since Whitbread was removed from The Place in July, “the gay factor has been lost and the night is now unwelcoming and full of non-LBGT people, making it uninviting and off putting to the people the night is designed to serve!”
CUSU, however, felt that Whitbread’s promotion of the night made it far from welcoming.
James Beattie, CUSU’s LBGT President last year, said that the direction Whitbread wanted to take the night in was at odds with CUSU’s values, noting in one instance a ‘Porn Idol’ night Whitbread wanted to start, and his plan to hire ‘All The Way Jay’, a male stripper.
In a Facebook status update, Whitbread commented, “The gay scene is very important to me and I’m very passionate about it! It is about time that people realise that certain venues are about just making money and some venues do care about community spirit!”
James Beattie defended the new LBGT night at Revolution, saying that he had received very positive feedback and that it was “much more student friendly” than the previous nights at The Place. He went on to say that “last night (Tuesday 6th October 2009) we had our biggest takings ever”.
Jennifer Mills – Deputy News Editor