Philadelphia’s civil-rights agency slammed 11 local gay bars for failing to create a “’safe space’ for all LGBTQ people,” saying that they have instead created “preferable environments for white, cisgender male patrons.”
After receiving several complaints, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights issued a lengthy report on discrimination in the city’s trendy “Gayborhood.”
It also required the owners and employees of the 11 bars named to attend a mandatory anti-discrimination course, which include implicit bias training discussing unintentional racism and sexism.
Philadelphia’s gay bars came under scrutiny last fall, after a YouTube video showed the owner of ICandy, Darryl DePiano, using the N-word. Since then, it received several complaints about sexism and racism at local gay bars.
The city subpoenaed the owners of 11 gay bars to appear at a hearing last fall, also scrutinizing the venues’ dress codes, employment policies and other information.
“Overwhelmingly, the testimony revealed incidents of bias, feelings of frustration, prejudice, and discrimination,” the Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights wrote in its report.
“Every bar is owned by a white gay cisman,” said one complainant, listed in the agency’s report as D. London. “This is a clear indicator of severely entrenched systemic racism.”
A black lesbian, K. Apostol, said she often had to wait as long as 15 minutes for drinks at ICandy and Woody’s, another gay bar, while she watched gay men receive much faster service. “This is blatant gender discrimination,” she wrote.
Another anonymous complainant bemoaned the lack of lesbian bars in the city, saying that she felt unwelcome despite wanting “to be out in a LGBT ‘safe’ space.”
Several other complainants said they felt white gay men received preferable treatment to black gay men at the bars.
“What do I file about the hundred cuts of subtle racism that we have to endure every single day?” wrote complainant M. Kenyatta. “What do I file when I go to the bar and the bartender looks at me and goes to someone else?”