Is Lake Worth’s Trans City Manager Unfairly Targeting Local Gay Bar?

Owners of The Cottage, a bar in Lake Worth, Florida, have been claiming a cabal of four local residents have waged a three-year campaign against the gay establishment by filing noise complaints almost daily ever since the bar began hosting Sunday Tea Dances. Police, apparently, were sympathetic to the bar but had to continue responding to any complaints. But when Cottage owner Loretta Lutfy in 2009 met with city manager Susan Stanton [pictured] to see what could be done about the baseless harassment of her bar, Lufty claims she was dismissed from Stanton’s office — and told “men in dresses, and men dancing with men is offensive. If you continue, you will just have to suffer the consequences.” And now that the situation has gained international attention (city officials say they’ve heard complaints as far away as Latvia), city commissioners are getting involved. But to Mayor Rene Varela, gay businesses like The Cottage are simply pulling “the gay card.”

While Lake Worth’s city commissioners passed a resolution reaffirming the area’s commitment to “full and equal rights for all of its residents and employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” other city officials say they’re being unfairly blamed, relays the Palm Beach Post.

The e-mail campaign stemmed from an online petition on Change.org by The Cottage that claims the bar has been the target of unfair enforcement of the city’s noise ordinance because it hosts Sunday tea dances for gays and lesbians. The owner of The Cottage, Loretta Lufty, said Stanton also has used selective code enforcement to target the bar at 522 Lucerne Ave. The e-mail petition has generated more than 1,300 responses from as far away as Canada. Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulvehill said she received e-mails from Latvia about The Cottage and the city’s alleged homophobic actions. She called the e-mail campaign “cyber-bullying.” Mulvehill suggested writing a press release explaining the city’s position and working with the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to repair the city’s reputation.

Mayor Rene Varela said he did not see a pattern of behavior against businesses owned by or catering to gays and lesbians in the city and accused The Cottage of “pulling out the gay card.” The owner of The Cottage, Loretta Lufty, said Stanton has used selective code enforcement to target the bar at 522 Lucerne Ave. The Cottage has been cited twice under the city’s new noise ordinance, though there have been 15 calls there in response to noise complaints since the new noise ordinance was enacted in November.

And add this to the mix: City manager Stanton is trans, was fired from her old job because she had a sex change, and says she feels like she’s the one being bullied: “This is extremely difficult for me. I have felt the sting of harassment. The comments attributed to me on the website are not correct.” Would a trans woman tell another queer person that “men in dresses, and men dancing with men is offensive”?

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  • RedAssault

    Not all trans people hate gay people. But the vast majority of them do. Oh, they’ll hitch their wagon to the lgbT star and all but the moment they can claim they’re “normal people” unlike those “freaks and faggots,” they’ll hop up on their self-appointed pedestal and rain hellfire down on the gays.

    Ask your average trans person about Stonewall and they’ll say it wasn’t anything to do with gay people but a “trans uprising” and suggest to a trans person that they’re part of the gay community and most will go on attack.

    This story is no surprise. And the gay community has no one to blame but ourselves for being so fucking inclusive and pretending those people were part of our community in the first place.

  • Cam

    Sounds like she is working overtime to PROVE that she isn’t going to give a gay business favorable treatment. That usually means they will treat them worse.

  • Shannon1981

    There are people on both sides who hate the “LGBT” (or, as the case may really be LGBTPQIA)sentiment, and yes, I understand why. I don’t personally have any problem whatsoever with LGBT, but I do get why some do. The straight community never has, does not, and never will give a damn what the differences are between the different groups in the whole alphabet soup thing. Furthermore, LGBT perpetuates the sentiment that transfolk are some variation of homosexual(while they may indeed be gay, the two are not dependent upon each other) and it gives the ignorant folks from the hetero community more reason to think all gays are cross dressers/gender benders, when, while some of us are,just like straight people can be gender benders/ cross dressers, this isn’t true for all. So yes, valid reasons to have animosity toward that from both sides.

    However, something we NEVER NEED FORGET: to the straight community, we are all one big group of freaks who defy their ideas about what is normal and right as far as gender appropriate behavior goes, in a very heteronormative society. No changing that. At the end of the day, whether you are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Pansexual Transgender, Transexxual, Intersexed. Queer, Questioning, or anything on that spectrum, you are not one of them. To that end, I think it would behoove us to stick together and be allies, whether you like the concept of us being “LGBT” or not.

    The last person who should be giving a gay bar a hard time is a trans person. And no, not saying turn a blind eye to wrongdoing or give special treatment, just be kind and fair like with all the other establishments.

  • Jackson

    RedAssault, claiming the majority of trans people hate gay people is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. A large chunk of us ARE gay.

    Susan Stanton hates trans people as much as she does gay people. Don’t judge us based on Susan Stanton and other self-haters.

  • Johannstein

    “as far away as Canada”

    lol – we aren’t that far away from the states…

  • gina

    Please don’t anoint Susan Stanton as in any way representing the trans community unless you also want people to make statements about gay men based on the behavior of Charlie Crist… another jerk from Florida.

  • The sane Francis

    Her being trans has nothing to do with the fact Ms. Stanton seems like a homophobe, and the city is covering up their homophobia. So, I just add it as yet another reason to not head to Florida unless I’m headed to Miami and southward.

  • JT

    Correction: The Cottage is a straight bar that is gay for one night, and they have been violating the noise ordinance.

    The LGBT community got needlessly pulled in this debate.

  • Dana Lane Taylor

    @RedAssault: WTF? Where did you get your facts from? Susan Stanton is NOT the entire TG/TS community. She made transphobic and homopobic statements during the documentary she was in. Believe me, there are a lot of us who are still paying for her crap.

  • missanthrope


    I don’t believe you’ve known many trans people if your life, enjoy the big stinking shitpile of fail in you post.

  • Paul Bates

    The Cottage is a straight bar. Gay only one night a week. Sun normally would be a slow night for them but they brought in the gay community to reap the gay dollars. Now they are once again useing the gay community pulling out the gay card on what is nothing more than a noise issue! So sad for us, the gay community.

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