It took just one day for Target to pull a screening U-turn Friday (13 November) after it removed a transphobic book off its digital shelves, prompting anti-trans users to pelt the American retail giant into submission.
Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughter, which is currently rated just two-and-a-half stars on Target’s website, has been fiercely upbraided by LGBT+ rights activists since its July 2020 release.×
While Target initially said it would remove the text, a torrent of anti-trans Twitter accounts, including Shrier, criticised the company for doing so, promoting Target to walk back and relist the book.
Twitter users sought to sound the alarm as to why Target was stocking a book that rails against a so-called “transgender epidemic sweeping the country”. The company, amid backlash, tweeted on Thursday (12 November): “Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.
“We have removed this book from our assortment.”
Author Shrier quickly took aim at Target, tweeting that the company had made her “book disappear”, igniting countless anti-trans users to send incensed tweets and emails to Target.
Does it bother anyone that woke activists and spineless corporations now determine what Americans are allowed to read?” she added.
Target later tepidly responded to a tweet by a user with less than 1,000 followers and whose display picture is of a painting by Alex Grey. The user called on Target not to “submit to Stalinist thought policing”.
“We want to offer a broad assortment for our guests and are adding this book back to Target.com. We apologise for any confusion.”
Trans people in the US have themselves been reduced to political targets with increasing temerity by the Trump administration in the last four years, where the president’s officials have peeled back a roster of legal protections across countless federal departments and programs – defence, housing, health and education.
All the while, an actual epidemic – one of violence against trans people – continues to rip across the States, with 2020, monitoring groups warn, being the deadliest year for trans people since records began with 34 trans people murdered at the time of writing.
Racist Grindr users often face “zero consequences whatsoever” on the gay dating app, according to a researcher.
Gene Lim, who is currently completing a PhD at Monash University in Melbourne investigating sexual racism, told ABCthat racism is rampant on the app – and that aggressors often don’t face any repercussions.×
Lim, who is gay and Asian, said: “The first thing you start realising is that a lot of people don’t find Asians attractive, and it directly affects your self-esteem.
“There are a lot of times when people like myself, we just don’t feel like we should be there.
“Your white friends are hooking up left, right and centre. And you’re the only one in your friendship group who hasn’t had a date or even a hookup in months.”
Sexual racism researcher Gene Lim said racism often goes unpunished on Grindr.
Grindr bans racism and discrimination in its community guidelines, but Lim said that such behaviour often goes unpunished.
“I know of instances where after someone has been reported for racism or even other offences, they face zero consequences whatsoever,” he said.
“Grindr is not ever incentivised to crack down on these individuals. They only take immediate action against people trying to use their platform to advertise paid services.”
For over 45 years, The Parliament House has called Orange Blossom Trail our home. We have to announce that our home at its current location will be closing Monday, November 2, 2020. We put up a good fight over the last 11 months to secure financing and renovate our existing property.
Unfortunately, that fight ended today with no deal. Our “Last Dance” at 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail will be this Sunday, November 1, 2020.
We have so many memories on “The Trail.” We will never forget New Year’s Eve when Miss P arrived in the courtyard dangling from a helicopter. Our community showed up in thousands to celebrate marriage equality in the United States.
We gathered to mourn the loss of our friends at Pulse Nightclub. We came out for countless concerts, pageants, plays, musicals and events. We celebrated Miss Vickie’s 70th Birthday with one of the biggest shows in our history.
We hosted the Footlight Players reunion shows to commemorate the immeasurable talent that has graced our stage. The list is never ending. Through it all, we’ve remained the Parliament House. It has never been about the building. It’s about the people.
The owners say they are seeking a new location. As longtime readers of this here website thingy may recall, the Parliament House was my first gay bar and back when Orlando was a much smaller city, it was for decades the uncontested epicenter of gay life in central Florida. When my mother finally asked me if I was gay, her second question was whether I went to the Parliament House. I could probably write a book just about my hundreds of nights there.
PHOTOS: Built in the 1960s as part of a small regional hotel chain of the same name, what later became the show bar was first a restaurant called Baron Of Beef. Later the Parliament House billed itself as “the world’s largest all-gay resort.” As far I can tell, it really was.
An LGBTQ activist in Puerto Rico regained access to his verified and personal Facebook pages on Wednesday after being banned for more than two months.
Pedro Julio Serrano was unable to access his Facebook pages since late August, both platforms comprising of more than 140,000 followers in total. He was alerted he violated community guidelines and “pretending to be a well-known person or public figure.”
Serrano is not aware of violating any guidelines and wasn’t pretending to be a public figure. At the time, he was the sole administrator of his pages but added two users on Wednesday to act as administrators in case another ban occurs.
Serrano since August emailed Facebook weekly, directly messaged the platform’s accounts on Twitter and Instagram and submitted multiple forms of identification to regain access.
“(My) platform is critical for me to continue to lead a movement in Puerto Rico to make sure that LGBTQ people are treated fairly,” he told the Washington Blade.
Facebook is heavily used in Puerto Rico, he said, and Statista reported Facebook accounted for 80 percent of social media site visits on the island thus far in 2020.
In a message sent to Serrano from Facebook, the platform wrote the suspension was a “mistake.”
“We rely on automation that detects violations of Community Standards as well as 15,000 human content reviewers, but occasionally content is flagged or removed in error,” said a Facebook company spokesperson in an emailed statement when asked why Serrano was unable to access to his account for two months.
Kathleen Ruane, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said platforms like Serrano’s are integral to marginalized groups that seek to foster community. Ruane said they also assist in spreading messages in ways traditional media outlets cannot in terms of content and reach.
“Social media has been, even in spite of some of the challenges that queer communities and communities of color face, a democratizing force,” she said.
C Rivera, a trans activist from Puerto Rico has also experienced bans on their personal page, with six alone this year so far, all with varying time limits.
Rivera also helps lead “Boicot La Comay,” a Facebook page with more than 100,000 likes and followers that advocates for the cancellation of “La Comay,” a Puerto Rican gossip show that promotes racist, homophobic and misogynist stereotypes.
Vázquez and other members of her party are regular guests on the program that a life-sized puppet hosts. Serrano is among those who called for “La Comay” to be cancelled in June after it mocked Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, a lesbian woman of African descent who is running for the Puerto Rico Senate.
Authorities a few weeks after the segment aired arrested Serrano and charged him with two counts of marital sexual assault against his former partner. A judge last month dismissed the charges on grounds there was no probable cause to prosecute him.
Today, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates announced the winners of the 2020 Outie Awards. The awards (also known as the “Outies”) recognize individuals and organizations who are leaders in advancing equality for LGBTQ people in workplaces globally.
Outies are awarded at the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit. This year’s Summit concludes today.
“The slate of winners at this year’s Outies represents showcases some of the best work being done at large companies to create workplaces of belonging where LGBTQ employees can thrive,” said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal. “This has been a tough year for everybody. These are the companies, and these are the individuals, who are finding a way to step up and make a difference.”
Workplace Excellence, the most prestigious Outie, was awarded to Dow in recognition of their historic and ongoing commitment to pursuing and implementing workplace equality for LGBTQ employees.
“From a pandemic to natural disasters to taking action to more effectively address racism and injustice, we’re all dealing with a lot right now,” said Amy Wilson, Dow’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, and Executive Sponsor for the company’s LGBTQ+ and ally employee resource group, GLAD. “But that means inclusion is needed more than ever and we should all take time to celebrate our efforts to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality. This work has changed lives for the better, bringing us closer to a more equal workplace and world where we can best work together to take on these challenges.”
Ally Changemaker was awarded to Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson in recognition of his contributions to advancing LGBTQ workplace equality over the course of his career, including his efforts to uplift the voices of marginalized groups.
“Marriott, like Out & Equal, is committed to creating a culture of belonging for all,” said Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International. “I am honored to accept this recognition on behalf of thousands of people around the world who wear a Marriott name badge – we are focused on welcoming all and putting people first to help create a world of inclusion for all.”
Belonging During COVID was awarded to John Deere in recognition of the steps they took to care for their employees and maintain a culture of belonging in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“John Deere and our Rainbow Employee Resource Group are humbled to receive Out & Equal’s Belonging During COVID award,” said Roberto Leone, Audit Manager, Information Systems, Internal Audit at John Deere. “While the challenges posed by COVID-19 are daunting, we know that by finding innovative ways to be together, no matter where we are and despite what separates us, we can overcome anything.”
Employee Resource Group of the Year was awarded to HP’s Global Pride Business Impact Network in recognition of their track record of elevating best practices, implementing intersectional and collaborative programming with other ERGs, and advocating for LGBTQ equality in their workplace.
“Diversity and inclusion initiatives are part of the foundation on which HP was built and essential for us to innovate as a brand,” said Beth MillerGlobal Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager. This work is embedded into our culture and includes a long-standing commitment to workplace equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We are proud of this recognition and acknowledgment of our Global Pride Business Impact Network’s efforts to enhance inclusion around the world.”
LGBTQ Corporate Advocate of the Year was awarded to Nikki Gibson in recognition of her work to push for the adoption of policies and practices that benefited LGBTQ employees and advanced her organization’s standing as a true leader in this work.
“I am so honored to be receiving the LGBTQ Corporate Advocate of the Year award from Out & Equal Workplace Advocates,” said Nikki Gibson, North American Lead for Dell Pride ERG at Dell Technologies. This year I celebrate my 21st anniversary at Dell Technologies and from the beginning, I have always been encouraged to bring my full self to work. Being part of the Dell Technologies family has given me a platform to use my voice and advocate on behalf of my community. I appreciate that I get to work for a company that has a workplace culture that embraces individuality and champions team members to get involved. Thank you Out & Equal for this award and for empowering individuals like me to be their very best, to stay educated and remain focused on what is needed to advocate for equality and to continue to create workplaces of belonging.”
LGBTQ Marketing of the Year was awarded to Procter & Gamble in recognition of their Can’t Cancel Pride campaign. This was an innovative and effective effort by this company to show the resilience and diversity of the LGBTQ community in their external marketing efforts.
“It’s important now, as ever, to continue to use our voice and creativity to be a force for good, a force for growth and a force for change,” said Brent Miller, P&G Global LGBTQ+ Equality Program Leader and Co-Founder of Can’t Cancel Pride. “P&G is humbled and honored to be recognized as Out and Equal’s LGBTQ+ Marketer of the Year. This strengthens our commitment to accurate and authentically represent the LGBTQ+ community and be a champion for visibility that creates positive conversation and moves communities forward.”
Global Workplace Excellence was awarded to Northern Trust in recognition of their demonstrated commitment to pursuing workplace equality for LGBTQ employees in India.
New ERG Chapter of the Year was awarded to JP Morgan Chase Poland in recognition of their impressive work to create a thriving ERG chapter in a country with a challenging political context.
Out & Equal is the premier organization working exclusively on LGBTQ workplace equality. Through our worldwide programs, Fortune 500 partnerships and our annual Workplace Summit conference, we help LGBTQ people thrive and support organizations creating a culture of belonging for all.
Feminuity released a groundbreaking new resource: A Guide to LGBTQ2+ Inclusion for HR, People, & DEI LeadersThe publication serves to center the needs and experiences of LGBTQ2+ employees, keeping companies at the cutting-edge of inclusion and better-equipping organizations to promote a sense of fairness and belonging in their future workforce.
Keith Plummer, a partner of Feminuity, certified Human Resources professional, and author of the guide, summarized its significance with the following remarks:
“In this resource, we set out to create a guide for HR, People, and DEI leaders to adapt to the sexual and gender fluidity that increasingly characterizes our contemporary world. From policies to benefits to workplace culture, this publication provides a first-of-its-kind exploration of leading practices that will revolutionize workplaces across the globe by putting LGBTQ2+ considerations front and center.”
Workplace conversations around sexual and gender diversity are complicated as some still believe that these dimensions of the human experience should be kept private and divorced from professional life. However, Keith challenges this thinking:
“We communicate our sexuality and gender in subtle ways everyday no matter the context. Too often sexual and gender diversity is relegated to the shadows of office initiatives due to unjust politicization and sensationalism. Our sexual and gender identities are fundamental parts of who we are—company policies and procedures should be designed not only to accommodate but to celebrate them.”
Dr. Sarah Saska, CEO and Co-Founder of Feminuity, expressed her enthusiasm and support for her consultancy’s latest open-source output:
“Feminuity is proud to support what we consider a paradigm-shifting examination on how to affirm the ever-growing LGBTQ2+ workforce. This collection was informed by extensive research and an unwavering passion to integrate queer perspectives into the ways companies do business.”
Since 2014, Feminuity (pronounce) has supported leaders in embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into the core of their business. Feminuity partners with innovative companies, from start-ups through to Fortune 500s, to build diverse teams, equitable systems, and inclusive products and workplace cultures.
When Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon began making plans in 2018 to open their own gay bar in New York’s historic Harlem neighborhood, they had no idea a pandemic would shut them down before they even opened.
“The first thing we thought was, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re going to be out of business before we started this business,’” Hughes, 39, told NBC News.
But a global health crisis is not the only headwind their bar, Lambda Lounge, and the few remaining Black-owned gay bars in the United States are facing. Long before anyone had heard of Covid-19, these LGBTQ social spaces were dwindling across the country.
For more than two decades, gay bars, especially those owned by people of color, have been disappearing. Historically, these spaces were where the LGBTQ community gathered to find romance, make long-lasting friendships and engage in community activism. Throughout the 1980s, there were more than 1,500 such bars, a number that has declined steeply since the late ‘90s, with fewer than 1,000 existing today, according to a study published last year by Oberlin College and Conservatory professor Greggor Mattson.
The closures have had a disproportionate impact on bars catering to women and people of color: Between 2007 and 2019, LGBTQ bar listings dropped by an estimated 37 percent, and those serving people of color plummeted by almost 60 percent, according to the study. Though the reasons are not entirely clear, experts suspect the overall decline in gay bars is related to decades of skyrocketing rents and gentrification, which have disproportionately impacted small, Black-owned businesses; the emergence of online dating sites and apps; and circuit parties that rotate among venues, which have become increasingly popular among younger crowds.
According to online listings, there are more than 60 LGBTQ bars across the five boroughs of New York City, one of the metropolitan areas hardest hit by the pandemic, and many of these spaces are struggling to stay open. Of the city’s dozens of remaining gay bars, just two — Lambda Lounge and Alibi Lounge, both in Harlem — are known to be Black owned. Club Langston in Brooklyn closed last year after nearly two decades in business.
Since it opened in 2015, Alibi Lounge has become a sanctuary for LGBTQ people of color. In March, under city mandates, owner Alexi Minko was forced to temporarily shutter his bar and soon began to run out of money. A former lawyer who had poured his life savings into his business, Minko frantically applied for emergency aid through the government’s overwhelmed Paycheck Protection Program application, whose website he said continuously crashed.
Desperate for assistance, Minko reluctantly set up an online fundraising campaign for his bar. He was on the brink of ending his lease, he said, when donations suddenly surged. In only a matter of weeks, the campaign raised $165,000. While Minko eventually received a small loan through the government’s emergency relief program, he said the donations “absolutely saved my business,” as well as the idea that it’s possible for a Black gay man to open his own bar.
“My fear if Alibi had gone down is to instill in the young mind that, ‘Oh, why bother? We’re Black and gay, it’s just going to fail anyway,’” said Minko, who has since reopened his bar outside at limited capacity in compliance with New York City’s rules.
Earlier this month, Alibi Lounge was one of 10 LGBTQ-owned businesses to be awarded funding through the Queer to Stayprogram, a small business initiative from Showtime and the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group.
Access to ‘mainstream capital’
While the total economic fallout from the pandemic won’t be known for some time, August data from the business listing site Yelp found that more than 2,800 businesses had permanently closed since March in New York City alone, and a report published last month from the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit business group, said as many as a third of the city’s “230,000 small businesses that populate neighborhood commercial corridors may never reopen.”
The national picture is also grim, especially for Black business owners: A report released in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found the number of Black-owned businesses declined more than 40 percent across the U.S. between February and April, while white-owned businesses declined 17 percent.
In June, the Small Business Administration released a list of 661,218 organizations that received loans of $150,000 or more. It received racial and ethnic backgrounds from just 94,501 owners. Of those, 1,827 Black-owned businesses received loans.
Most of these business owners rely on personal finance and credit, and often lack relationships with banks, according to Cy Richardson, senior vice president for economics and housing programs at the National Urban League, a nonprofit that advocates for economic and social justice for Black Americans.
“Broadly, the notion of access to mainstream capital, that’s where the racial wealth gap is really exacerbated,” he said.
Those at the intersection of the Black and the LGBTQ communities have been particularly hit hard amid the pandemic, according to asurvey released last month by the Human Rights Campaign, which found Black LGBTQ respondents fared worse than both the overall Black population and the overall LGBTQ population along every economic indicator measured.
‘Envy of the wider gay community’
Scholars who study LGBTQ nightlife say the loss of Black-owned gay bars would be devastating. Historically, these bars have been havens for people of color, who have experienced discrimination in white-owned bars for generations, according to Eric Gonzaba, an assistant professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, who is writing a book about the history of gay nightlife.
Around the 1960s, gay bars began to sprout in metropolitan areas across the U.S. At the time, closeted white people didn’t want to be seen entering a gay bar where someone they knew might recognize them, so owners had a tendency to open these bars in predominantly Black neighborhoods. They would then often enact racist policies — including unfair carding measures and dress codes — to keep Black people out, according to Gonzaba, who said even up until the 1990s, some white bar owners would require people of color to show three forms of government picture ID to enter.
“These are places that were highly segregated for much of their history and are perfect examples of the inability for the LGBTQ rights movement to have a unified coalition into the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Gonzaba explained. He said even the Stonewall Inn, the once mafia-owned New York City gay bar that has become a symbol of the LGBTQ rights movement, “didn’t let a lot of people of color into the doors” (it has long since operated under new owners who do not engage in such discrimination). Since many gay bars in the ‘80s and ‘90s were where gay activists gathered to educate the community about HIV and AIDS, he said lifesaving information about the virus often didn’t reach the Black community.
Fed up, the Black LGBTQ community began to form its own house parties and unique social clubs in cities with large Black populations. Washington, D.C., alone boasted about 20 bars, nightclubs, coffeehouses and social gatherings that catered to a Black LGBTQ clientele, according to the Rainbow History Project, though it’s unclear if all were Black-owned and operated. Black gay activist groups used these spaces to educate patrons about HIV and AIDs and to organize around issues for racial justice. Perhaps the most epic among them, the The Club House, remained a popular D.C. haunt until it shuttered in 1990.
Unlike most LGBTQ bars at the time, Black-owned bars welcomed a gender diverse crowd, including transgender and gender-nonconforming people, according to Gonzaba. He said these patrons cultivated a unique music subculture in the 1970s composed of early disco and drag, and a “more sexually expressive culture” began to flourish.
“This is music that’s founded by African American and Latinx people in inner cities, parts of Chicago and Philadelphia and Washington, and dancing becomes normalized … and this kind of style of music and this kind of style of dancing that’s highly sexualized becomes the envy of the wider gay community,” Gonzaba said of this early disco era that would later give rise to house and electronic dance music.
“It’s the ability for clubs to be places of refuge and sexual expression and sexual exploration,” he said, that still lead people today to “think of bars and nightlife as a place to not just have a drink but to explore different avenues of one’s sexuality, and that’s hugely borrowed from Black culture.”
Where are all the Black-owned gay bars?
The number of Black-owned gay bars, currently and historically, is unknown, since there is no resource that specifically tracks them, and Gonzaba said many bars frequented by LGBTQ people of color have historically been white-owned. But business listings suggest there may not be many of them left.
In addition to Lambda Lounge and Alibi Lounge in New York, at least three others — Jeffery Pub in Chicago, Metro 2.0 in Jackson, Mississippi, and Jocks PHL in Philadelphia — are still in business.https://www.instagram.com/p/BzWSKlLBq7l/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=8&wp=1116&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com&rp=%2Ffeature%2Fnbc-out%2Fblack-owned-gay-bars-are-dwindling-can-they-survive-covid-n1241100#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A877%2C%22ls%22%3A852%2C%22le%22%3A873%7D
In Chicago, the pandemic is threatening to shut down what might be the country’s oldest Black-owned gay bar. Jeffery Pub opened in the 1960s and has gone through multiple owners, according to the current owner, Jamal Junior. The businessman, who purchased the bar in the mid-2000s, was forced to temporarily close the pub in March under a city ordinance as the pandemic swept through the Midwest. He said the pub has not been able to reopen in compliance with city mandates because it lacks outdoor space.
“I’m just praying and hoping that we can survive,” Junior, 46, told NBC News.
Metro 2.0 owner Temica Morton is currently trying to hold on to what might be the only Black-owned gay bar in the South. Morton, a Jackson-based LGBTQ advocate, acquired the lease to the bar in February just as the pandemic struck the U.S. She invested her entire savings into Metro 2.0, which she said has been a popular venue for LGBTQ people of color of all genders since it opened in the late 1990s. But a seesawing series of shutdown orders from state and city officials left the businesswoman in “panic mode” as she struggled to figure out how to keep the bar alive. The bar temporarily shut down Aug. 5, and reopened in September at limited capacity after the shutdown lifted. Morton, 44, said she’s now “taking it one day at a time.”
Many Black-owned bars whose clientele was composed largely of people of color have shuttered in the past decade, including several in New York City alone, like Starlite Lounge, No Parking and Club Langston. Perhaps the most famous of the shuttered bars was Jewel’s Catch One, a Los Angeles venue known for its Black disco scene that operated between 1973 and 2015 under the ownership of lesbian Jewel Thais-Williams. And a decade before that, the community lost beloved bar Knob Hill in Washington, D.C., which operated between 1957 and 2004.
In 1990, after dealing with decades of discrimination at gay bars in San Francisco, where he moved in 1969, Rodney Barnette, a Vietnam War veteran, former member of the Black Panther Party and gay rights activist, opened his own bar. The New Eagle Creek Saloon, which operated under the slogan “A friendly place with a funky base for every race,” was forced to shut down after only three years due to rent increases that Barnette said he could not afford. But before it shuttered, he said the saloon served as a refuge for San Francisco’s LGBTQ people of color. Activist groups like Lesbians and Gays of African Descent for Democratic Action (LAGADDA) gathered there to organize against racist carding policies in San Francisco and to educate the Black community about HIV prevention, he said.
“I call it a community center that served alcohol, that’s the way I describe it,” said Barnette, whose bar has been memorialized by his daughter, artist Sadie Barnette, in an exhibit commissioned by The Lab in San Francisco.
“People felt good,” he said of the saloon’s patrons. “You could walk in the bar, and know there wouldn’t be any discrimination against you, that you were welcome, that everybody was welcome.”
‘Everybody should be treated equal’
By the 1990s, Black LGBTQ activists and allies had successfully fought to end racist carding policies. However, a number of recent incidents indicate that racism still plagues gay nightlife.
In 2016, fury erupted in Philadelphia after a video shared widely on social media showed the owner of a popular gay bar using the N-word. A 2017 report issued by the city’s Commission on Human Rights found that women, minorities and transgender people felt unwelcome and unsafe in Philadelphia’s gay neighborhood for decades. The report recommended establishments and organizations in the so-called gayborhood undergo training for racial bias and hire more diverse staff.
In 2018, a group of Atlanta drag performers, all trans women of color, collectively quit their jobs at a popular gay club, Burkhart’s, after its white owner made racist posts on his Facebook page.
Last year, an email from a manager at Progress Bar, a gay bar in Chicago’s “gayborhood,” ordered DJs to stop playing rap music at the bar. “Anything vulgar, aggressive or considered mumble rap (including certain Cardi B tracks and newer Nicki Minaj) is off limits,” the manager wrote in a leaked message.
In June, activists gathered in front of 941 Saloon, a Pittsburgh gay bar, to protest dress codes they said discriminated against Black people.
In July, a picture circulating on Facebook showed a bartender at Number Nine, a popular gay bar in Washington, D.C., apparently wearing a “black face” Covid-19 mask. The management later posted an apology, claiming the bartender didn’t know the mask was racist.
Over the years, as wealth in the U.S. has become more concentrated, Gonzaba said it is not uncommon for multiple gay bars to be managed under a single owner.
“These bars are owned by wealthy, white men who often have many different establishments in the cities,” he explained.
Some bars, even if they don’t engage in discriminatory practices within their establishment, try to cultivate loyalty among white clientele through their branding, according to Gonzaba. For example, in 2012, a leaked email from a gay bar owner in Washington, D.C., revealed that he had requested an advertisement for the bar, which displayed a Black man, be replaced with “a hot white guy,” stating it was “more our clientele.”
Barnette, who now resides in Los Angeles, said that despite progress made by activists, LGBTQ nightlife still caters predominantly to white men.
“The overall gay white male community has not reformed into making it a point that everybody should be treated equal,” he said.
‘A responsibility to queer people of color’
In New York City, where Covid-19 cases have plummeted, bars and restaurants have been allowed to slowly reopen outdoors at limited capacity. Starting Sept. 30, restaurants will be allowed to reopen their indoor space at 25 percent capacity, though bar service will not be permitted.
In July, Lambda Lounge celebrated its grand opening with a “nice turnout” despite restrictions, according to Hughes and Solomon, 38, who set up their lounge outdoors.
“It was so nice,” Hughes said. “We had to literally stop people coming in so we could be compliant with Covid rules.”
While the couple said they did receive a small loan through the emergency relief program, they are unsure how long they will remain open without more assistance, especially as the weather cools and a possible second wave of Covid-19 could force the city to shut down bars and restaurants later this year. So far, they’ve raised nearly $6,000 through a GoFundMe campaign for their lounge.
Hughes said the ongoing stress is giving him migraines, and Solomon said it has been “hard to find optimism right now.” Their insurance premium has already increased by $1,000 a month due to the pandemic, they said, and they are not currently bringing in enough money to cover their rent and other expenses. Still, the men vow to stay open as long as they can.
“We have a responsibility to queer people of color to make sure that this place lasts, and it’s extremely difficult when we run into obstacles,” Solomon said, “but the glass is half full.”
Chick-fil-A said Monday that it no longer plans to open a restaurant in the San Antonio airport, even though the Texas city relented after more than a year of legal wrangling that began when some city leaders opposed the fast-food chain getting a spot, citing donations made by company owners to anti-LGBTQ causes.
“We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service.” Chick-fil-A said in a statement. “While we are not pursuing a location in the San Antonio airport at this time, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve San Antonians in our 32 existing restaurants.”
In May last year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to look into whether the city had broken federal law or transportation department regulations. He said the fast-food chain’s exclusion from the airport amounted to discrimination “due to the expression of the owner’s religious beliefs.” The complaint prompted an FAA investigation that ended July 24 with an informal resolution for San Antonio to allow Chick-fil-A to seek a lease in the city-owned airport.
Some Texas leaders broadly supported the company. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in 2019 in defense of Chick-fil-A and religious freedom. And on Monday, Paxton, also a Republican, heralded the agreement between San Antonio and Chick-fil-A.
“This is a win for religious liberty in Texas and I strongly commend the FAA and the City of San Antonio for reaching this resolution,” Paxton said in a statement. “To exclude a respected vendor based on religious beliefs is the opposite of tolerance and is inconsistent with the Constitution, Texas law, and Texas values.”
The FAA did not immediately returns calls seeking comment.
“The city itself offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally following Chick-fil-A’s publicly stated change-of-position on its charitable giving policy,” a city spokesman told San Antonio TV station KSAT. “The city maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-fil-A.”
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has faced opposition elsewhere over its donations worth millions of dollars to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Steven King, a popular content creator on the social media platform TikTok, said he stumbled across the video-sharing app by accident early last year.
“I saw an advertisement for what I thought was an app that could put your selfies into motion” he said. “I downloaded it, and two days later I was posting my first video.”
King, 47, started by sharing videos about his day, his relationship with his husband and what clothes he wanted to wear. They must have resonated because his following started to grow — all the way to 3 million as of this week.
“The amount of people that are seeing my face, that are engaging with these videos I’m creating,” he said, “really put me in awe.”
King, now a verified creator on the platform, said he knew he was onto something when the comment sections on his page started to fill up with questions about coming out, LGBTQ relationships and confidence in one’s own identity.
“When I joined TikTok, there was definitely the sense that it was a young-adult app,” he said, and “I knew right away that these were teenagers asking, and I had a responsibility.”
So in February 2019, King, who lives in Arizona, began doing livestreams where he would answer questions from his followers — many of them LGBTQ youth and young adults — and creating videos to share his advice and aspects of his life story, from his 24-year relationship to his sobriety.
“The traumas that we suffer from as we grow have a huge impact on who we are as adults,” King said. “To be able to empathize and put myself back in the position that these teenagers are in, knowing where I came from and how I made it through, I just had to give back that information.”
With the help of the algorithm on its “For You” page, which feeds users curated content based on their previous interactions and “likes,” TikTok has helped LGBTQ content creators and audiences find one another on the platform. But some fear the queer community they helped foster on the social network may be in danger amid the face-off between TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, and the Trump administration.
Collins Onosike, a verified TikTok content creator, has amassed 4.4 million followers since joining the platform several years ago.
“My ‘For You’ page is full of queer people — I love it,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of friends on here; it’s really a happy place”
Onosike, who has built both his career and social group around TikTok, is among those who has been on edge amid the back and forth between the president and ByteDance.
“The thought of just losing it, just losing all of it is quite scary — for myself and other influencers,” he said.
Onosike, 20, joined TikTok in its early days when the app was still called Musical.ly. At first, he focused on dance and lip-sync videos, but he then pivoted to comedy skits where he often incorporates drag into his performances.
“I get a lot of comments saying, ‘Seeing the way you express yourself has given me the courage to be myself as well.’ It’s so cool to see the amount of power a video can give to someone else.”
For Sarah Schauer, the prospect of TikTok shutting down was like “having deja vu.”
“I was like, ‘Are you f—— kidding me? I’ve done this before,” said Schauer, who started her social media career on the now-defunct video-sharing platform Vine and lost 848,000 followers in one day when it shut down in 2017.
“I understand why everyone else was freaking out, but it was like ‘I had practiced for this,'” she said. “This time I would lose 1.2 million [followers].”
Schauer, who lives in Los Angeles, started posting on TikTok last year after hearing success stories of other creator accounts growing rapidly on the platform. She said she has found a supportive fan base on the app, where she shares point-of-view-style comedy videos.
“I didn’t do queer content when I was on Vine, because I came out later, but I’ve started to integrate it into my content now,” said Schauer, who is bisexual and estimates that her followers are about half queer and half straight.
Schauer, who said the platform’s large queer community is commonly referred to as “gay TikTok,” said the app’s algorithm is about discoverability — and goes far beyond LGBTQ-related content.
“I’ve seen so much Native American and native Hawaiian content. The disabled community can create videos about their situations,” she explained. “I’ve never seen their videos as much as I have now.”
‘We’ll find a way to do it again’
For Chris Olsen and Ian Paget, a gay couple who split their time between New York and Los Angeles, TikTok started as a place to watch videos and stay entertained amid the pandemic. But then in April, the duo started posting their own videos to the platform.
The multinational investment bank Citigroup is being sued by a gay man who claims he was demoted and discriminated against because of his sexual orientation.
The allegations by gay banker Thomas Krauss appear to counter Citigroup’s proud ranking as the most LGBT-inclusive financial services employer in the Stonewall Top 100.
Krauss joined the firm in 2010 and until recently led the firm’s capital introduction group for the Americas, Bloomberg reported.
He says he was targeted when he uncovered complaints of sexual harassment made against a new hire on his team, Deutsche Bank veteran Joseph Genovese.
Concerned that Genovese’s hiring could put Citigroup at risk of creating a “hostile and offensive work environment,” the suit says Krauss disclosed what he learned to senior Citigroup managers, who later withdrew the offer made to Genovese.
Although Krauss made the disclosure in confidence, he claims that several executives pushed to find out who “blew the whistle” on Genovese.
Once they learned it was Krauss, they allegedly began a campaign to punish him which eventually resulted in him being demoted.
Sadly the retaliation didn’t end there: despite receiving consistently positive evaluations, Krauss’s 2019 year-end review reflected a decrease in his leadership rating, which led to a pay reduction and “effectively destroyed his Citi career,” according to the complaint.
Krauss also alleges that he was denied a promotion to managing director because of his sexual orientation and for extra work he did on behalf of the company’s LGBT+ initiatives.
“It is easy to say you are not tolerant of discrimination but action, as is true with Citi, speaks louder than empty words,” said Krauss’s lawyer Daniel Kaiser in a statement Monday (3 August).