Blackbook vs. The Corner Bistro (And The Gays, Too)


FOODIE HOMOPHOBIA — First, the important part: Blackbook editor Nick Haramis went to the West Village’s Corner Bistro came “for an order of fries, but left with a black eye, a few welts, and an employee screaming “faggots” as he threw me to the floor”, which sounds like a terrible way to spend your Friday night. To top it off, after being booted from the joint, Haramis called the police and was told there was nothing they could do, then he went back to the bar to speak with the manager and was told to get lost and never come back, then he went and wrote a blog post about it on Blackbook’s site and everyone questioned his story. Would you like fries with your injustice, Nick? Update: Turns out, as there often is, there’s another side to this story — which paints Haramis as the instigator.

A good sample comment from Nick’s post is this:

“As a long term resident of NYC, I’ve been to the Corner Bistro many times. Although it is not a “gay restaurant”, it is very gay friendly. There is obviously more to this story than what Nick is writing. You can’t expect to go into a restaurant with an attitute and expect good service. My guess is that got what they deserved! “

And you know what? We’ve been to the Corner Bistro a bazillion times as well. It’s our ex-boyfriend’s (Hi Matthew! Look, you’re getting a mention in Queerty!) favorite dive in the whole world and while we think it’s you know, whatever, it’s always seemed gay-friendly.

That said, I don’t care if you’re the flamiest queen of queentown doing your impersonation of Bea Arthur during childbirth, calling someone a faggot and hitting them is never ‘deserved’.

In any event, poor Nick was forced/compelled to write a follow-up filling in the details and answering reader questions:

“Why didn’t a group of gay men stand up for themselves?

Of the five of us, only two were gay. Two were straight men, and one was a woman. The fact that we didn’t fight back says less about sexuality, and more about an aversion to violence.

I’m sure there will be other questions. And I’m sure most of the people who run and maintain the restaurant are nice people—I’ve never once had a problem in the past. And while I’m sorry that things have escalated to the point where I’ve found myself dealing with a private matter in a public forum, I’m also sort of proud: we may not have fought back at the time, but consider this response—which will be my last on the matter—my left hook.”

Like anyone who this has ever happened to, we understand Nick’s anger. When living in New Mexico, with same previously mentioned ex-boyfriend (look! twice!), two guys came up to us after we were eating at a pizza joint and punched my ex. I called the police and loudly announced that I was writing down the driver’s license of the kid’s truck, who shouted that he hadn’t been involved at all. A woman who saw the incident promised to stay til the police arrived, but when they did, they told me there was really nothing they could do and that it would be a matter of ‘he said vs. he said.’

If this has never happened to you, you know the immense feeling of frustration that comes with doing the right thing, but being told that your reward is nothing. What a shame that Haramis not only was beaten-up by a homophobic waiter, but also, to some extent, by the skeptical gays whose impulse wasn’t to react with outrage or sympathy, but with skepticism and derision.

Update: Another story of violence had at Corner Bistro, via Gothamist:

A few years ago, I was actually beat up by the waiter of Corner Bistro (Muscly Asian guy – always wears a Yankees hat). The bartender had said something really insulting to me out of nowhere, and I responded in a like manner. The next thing I know, my hands were being held behind my back and I was pummeled several times, leaving me bruised on my face and neck.

While it had nothing to do with gay bashing (I’m straight, for one), the incident left me feeling incredibly helpless. At the time, I was under 21, and I didn’t think there was anything I could do without incriminating myself. My brother even went to the bar the following day to find out their perspective on the situation, only to hear denial from the white-haired bartender/owner (“Um…I don’t know what you’re talking about…”, etc.).

I’m sure these incidents are not isolated; I would guarantee that many other patrons have been put in similar situations. An employee of any business should never touch, hit, push, or punch any customer, no matter the situation, especially if you run an operation that serves alcohol.

Anyway, I was just going to say, if you could offer my support to the victim, at least tell him he’s not the only one.

A note from publisher David Hauslaib: Perhaps the only reason you’re hearing about Nick Haramis’ story of homophobic violence is because he works in media. If you’re unfamiliar, BlackBook is one of those trendy “downtown” fashion/style magazines that’s very glossy and chic. Albeit read by fewer people than, say, Entertainment Weekly, it’s very well known inside the bubble of Manhattan media. Read: People like us at Queerty. (Gay connection: BlackBook‘s former editor Aaron Hicklin now runs Out.) Which is great for Haramis, because he gets a very public soapbox to report Corner Bistro’s homophobia, but not so great for other victims of violence or discrimination, who don’t have ears bent toward their stories. Which is where Queerty always has and always will play a part: If you’re ever in a similar situation, tell us! Or at the very least, blog about it yourself and send us the link. Stories like these should not go unnoticed or unreported. Our growing readership, which includes politicos, members of law enforcement, the mainstream news media, and fellow average citizens, can enact change.

Meanwhile, Corner Bistro’s phone number is 212-242-9502.