No Gay Rights At NYC Rite Aid

Rite Aid simply ain’t right. A reader sent in this image from one of the pharmacy’s New York City locations (on Sixth Avenue at West 13th Street) and, as you can see, it’s not the most welcoming message.

This isn’t the first time Rite-Aid has found itself in a queer controversy. A DC-based manager came under fire last year after booting an “overly affectionate” gay couple.

The best part of this sign, we think, is mention of “anything that would make our customers uncomfortable is prohibited in the store.” We suppose manager Tom Marquez didn’t consider the gay customers in that one, huh? Someone else must have, because the sign, which appeared around 7am on Sunday, was soon removed…

And, just for your reference, here are Rite Aid’s corporate numbers and the number for Mr. Marquez’s location: 212-727-3720. Do with that what you will…

Update: Rite Aid insists that the alleged manager doesn’t work there and the sign was of their making.

Update again! The original reader just wrote in and said not only were there four signs at the Rite Aid in question, but offers this queer detail: …”When I called yesterday to complain the woman at the Rite Aid told me that Tom Marquez wasn’t the store manager but the manager for the whole area. so I don’t think it’s a phony name…I think he’s definitely a real person. In the audio link the store employee doesn’t say she doesn’t know who Tom is, she only says he doesn’t work in that store. He’s probably regional management, but maybe someone put it up and just used his name.”

Final Update (We Hope!) A concerned and peppy Rite Aid spokeswoman just gave us a call to inform us that neither Tom Marquez nor any other Rite Aid employee had anything to do with the lamentable sign. She also told us that the sign’s message “doesn’t represent the views of Rite Aid or their employees.” The police have been contacted and they’re trying to track down the culprit, who Rite Aid hopes will be prosecuted to “the fullest extent of the law” for this “vandalism.” The spokeswoman also used the word “appalled” to describe her and her peers’ feelings about the alleged homophobia. Thanks for the clarification, Rite Aid!

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  • retrofit71

    did this happen in D.C.? I’m confused.. the story on Metro Weekly refers to a D.C. address but the Queerty story refers to a location on 6th Ave in NYC… it’s f’ed up regardless.

  • CitizenGeek

    That’s almost comically awful. If I was in New York, I would definitely be making as many complaints as I could …

  • Hubbaduh

    This is so screwed up…I don’t even know where to begin…

  • logan767

    This is in Chelsea? Unbelievable.

  • Darth Paul

    A same-sex make out flash mob at this location seems appropriate.

  • Progression

    “A same-sex make out flash mob at this location seems appropriate.”

    Yes, and GLBT couples should go in regularly and kiss on the checkout line. RiteAid can keep throwing couples out, but they keep coming back and making out.

  • GregNewYorkCity

    I already dropped a note to RiteAid’s Board (pointing out the sign’s spelling errors too, naturally). This is not quite Chelsea (Chelsea runs 14th Street and up), but it’s certainly the West Village and is, oh, a block away from NYC’s Gay Center [ah, the irony…..]. I believe I may drop by to meet Mr. Marquez today…..

  • J Dvorak

    Call the store and complain – or use the contact info at to file a complaint. This is incredibly ignorant.

  • GregNewYorkCity

    And, continuing with the irony here, here’s what it says at the top of the Rite-Aid contact webpage:

    “Rite Aid is a place where customers are treated with respect and they feel appreciated and welcome.”

    Cough. Hack.

  • BentonQuest

    If you call, you will need the zip code which is 10011. I hope they get bombarded by calls.


    What a douchebag. Shitty store, shitty service and a shitty manager.

  • hells kitchen guy

    I love when people write “should” and “would seem appropriate.” If you want a frigging kiss-in, ORGANIZE ONE.

  • Clarknt67

    Yes, Darth Paul, I agree, I’m all for a kiss-in. We should organize a kissing protest. Fuck them.

    Friday July 11, 7 pm works for me.

  • Jesse

    I think it’s time for us all to descend upon this Rite Aid by the hundreds to hold hands, hug and kiss in the isles. It’s time for a good old fashioned hug-in protest.

    Come on boys and girls. Let’s get off our asses and do it.

  • Jesse

    ok..Friday July 11th, 7pm..

    Kiss in. I’m there.

  • John

    I just posted this at the Rite Aid website. If you do the same, their zip code is 10011.

    I was a loyal customer and shopped frequently at the Rite Aid store at 13th street and 6th avenue in Manhattan. Thanks to the actions of Tom Marquez your store manager I will no longer do any shopping at your store. I maintain a business around the corner and will persuade my employees and friends to do the same. Tom Marquez anti gay discrimination is a horrendous mistake and will do more harm than good to your company. It’s a shame since I preferred Rite Aid to Duane Reade and CVS, but now they will be getting my hard earned money rather than your bigoted stores. It’s a real shame that you allow this behavior to ruin your formerly good name.

  • Giedrius

    lets do it july 11 @ 7 PM!

  • Jason

    This cannot be legit. In the West Village? No freaking way.

    Has anyone written the Mayor’s Office and the Corporation Counsel’s Office?

    NYC Admin Code is clear that they cannot discriminate this way. They can likely post the sign, but I am sure they’d violate the regulation if they kicked gays out for showing affection.

    New York City Administrative Code –

    Title 8
    Civil Rights

    § 8–101 Policy. In the city of New York, with its great cosmopolitan population, there is no greater danger to the health, morals, safety and welfare of the city and its inhabitants than the existence of groups prejudiced against one another and antagonistic to each other because of their actual or perceived differences, including those based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, status as a victim of domestic violence or status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, whether children are, may be or would be residing with a person or conviction or arrest record. The council hereby finds and declares that prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, and discrimination, bias-related violence or harassment and disorder occasioned thereby threaten the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants and menace the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state. A city agency is hereby created with power to eliminate and prevent discrimination from playing any role in actions relating to employment, public accommodations, and housing and other real estate, and to take other actions against prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination and bias-related violence or harassment as herein provided; and the commission established hereunder is hereby given general jurisdiction and power for such purposes.

  • jack

    well, i owe rite aid an apology if it was a prank, but i called corporate and raised dignified hell.

  • Jack Jett

    I phone the store twice and spoke with Isha. When I asked for Marquez, I would be put on hold..hold..hold and more hold. I know that game.

    I phoned back and Isha told me it was her first day there, and she knew nothing about the letter and did not know who Tom Marquez might be.

    I called the corporate office. Spoke with a gal named Jackie (obviously after me) and she was a bit baffled by it. I could tell in her voice that she was really taken aback. Anyway, I sent her to the Queerty site so she could see for herself.

    I love the thought of doing a major kiss in there.

  • DJ Major

    I will be there 7/11 @ 7pm. Doing my best to post this on every medium available. Damn Shame!!

  • duanereadefan

    I called a pharmacist, figuring they would be the least willing to bullshit. I said I was returning a call from Mr. Marquez. The pharmacist said “Oh okay” and put me on hold and then came back and asked who I was. I said my name, then she came back and said he wasn’t available. I said, “I called the correct Rite Aid, right?” She replied, “Yes.”
    I also called the public relations department who informed me that they are aware of the situation, and handling it.

  • gay as life

    That Rite Aid location doesn’t open until 9am on Sundays, so if the sign(s) “appeared around 7am on Sunday”, that seems a bit fishy.

  • FrenchKissin'IntheUSA

    If in fact this is legit, and if in fact there is going to be a kiss-in, a gay couple and a straight couple should propose marriage during the event.

  • Puttin' the B in LGBT

    I am hard pressed to believe a store manager would post such a sign without corporate approval, which they would never get. A more likely situation is that someone at that store expressed this opinion and the targeted party made up the sign to “get them.” Vigilante justice… and a protest organized before all the facts are available? For shame. I guess knee-jerk reactions happen all over.

  • Puttin' the B in LGBT

    One more thing, witness that the sign is taped from the OUTSIDE. Which means anyone could have done it. And with strapping tape, no less. If you worked at a store with big picture windows, would you use a hard-to-clean adhesive on them? I’m all for standing up for our civil rights, but perhaps we should be using the “little grey cells.”

  • Lee

    Uh, did you know that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary? This whole thing is an obvious fake.

    Why is the flier taped from the outside of the window on the sidewalk side rather than from the inside? Would someone in authority at a store in THE VILLAGE really post this and put his name on it?

    Someone has some grudge directed at that manager — who may not even work at that particular store — or against Rite Aid. Either way, it’s bogus. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

    In unrelated news, it was just announced that Jesse Helms is going to be buried in a right-wing plot.

  • clarknt67

    Granted there may have been a rush to judgment by some, including myself.

    I’d say however, wholesale dismissal of this as “nothing to see here” seems equally rash and naive. The facts will reveal themselves, eventually.

    I’m staying tuned. I’m curious how (if?) Rite Aid will respond.

  • jack

    whut clark said. it should prove interesting to see how rite aid responds. at least they know we are out here and we are as vocal as the wingnuts. i will now call and convey my regrets about the misunderstanding.

  • Miss Understood

    It doesn’t sound fake so far. If so, the store would have come back with a more articulate answer by now. It sounds like they are scrambling. Why pretend he doesn’t work there if there is nothing to hide?

  • jack

    didn’t even have to make the call, they had already called me and left a number. i called and left a message of apology.

  • Gregoire

    Well, we know this wouldn’t happen in Duane Reade. Their employees are so lethargic and slow they wouldn’t have the energy to put up a sign.

  • mark

    SPEED DIAL Lambda Legal, any store which posts ONLY same sex kissing, hugging, touching, and makes no mention of opposite sex kissing, hugging, and touching…is illegal discrimination of public accomadation.

    KER-CHING….Rite Aid just made a VERY COSTLY mistake, and if this would lead to National boycott, they are going to dry up and die.

  • Rob

    Received this letter today after emailing the CFO and CEO of Rite Aid…


    My name is Ashley Flower and I work in the media relations department at Rite Aid. I was asked to respond to your email.

    Our findings show that no Rite Aid associate, including the one identified posted these signs. We are appalled that anyone would post these signs outside of our stores, and they were removed as soon as store managers became aware of them.

    They certainly do not represent the view of Rite Aid nor the associate identified.

    I want you to know that we’ve notified the local authorities on this act of vandalism and are offering out full support and cooperation so that the individuals responsible for this act of intolerance can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Again, we’re taking this matter very seriously. One of our core values is to be a place where all customers and associates are treated with respect and dignity, where they feel appreciated and welcome.

    I hope I’ve answered all of your questions, but if I haven’t please don’t hesitate to give me a call—my information is below.


    Ashley Flower
    Rite Aid Corporation
    PR Specialist


    Bullshiiiiiit! as luck would have it I happen to be visiting some family in NYC and decided to stop by the Rite Aid being discussed here. And the manager is indeed guess what!, a black man with a somewhat distinctively Spanish speaking accent that would explain his surname.
    The store needles to say is largely run by ethnic minorities. Now anyone who has been to that store knows that there is no way in hell that someone who’s not working there could’ve posted such vitriol on the windows since they have a security man there who monitors everything through a screen.

    As a side note after visiting the Rite Aid I decided to walk some more through the neighborhood and to my joyful surprise started hearing what I thought seemed like an organized protest in front of the Jamaican owned GOLDEN KRUST but as I rushed in a hurry to cheer them on and possibly join them I was disillusioned to find out that it was not in front of the repulsive restaurant but in front of the Painters and Allied Traders district council 9 of NY building. Honestly whats becoming of what was once TERRA FIRMA for Gay people. Soon we will be getting stoned and mobbed by Jamaicans and African Americans in the West Village! What a shame.

  • Dan Manjovi

    As if there aren’t enough reasons to boycott RiteAid – I mean there’s the monopolizing of neighborhoods, driving up the cost of commercial space, driving out small business owners, and sub-par service that often comes with a scowl, and now disdain for LGBT customers. I can’t say I am surprised.

    Dan Manjovi

  • David

    I just called the 800 customer service number to lodge a complaint. The agent told me that none of the store’s employees or managers posted the sign – that it was done by someone unaffiliated with the store and that they’ve reported it to the police.
    My guess is that this “Tom” is just denying it now that he’s in hot water.

  • clarknt67

    Churchill-Y, your post reeks of racism, ironic in that you’re all upset about possible homophobia.

    As, Ms. Lopez might say, Get Right.

  • Focus On Real Issues

    Of course this letter is fake…its obvious. Even if it was real and was expressed by that one manager, no one can believe that Rite Aid is going to have a company policy like this.

    But more importantly, why are we getting so fired up over this story when there are only a few comments on the story about Fred Barnes encouraging McCain and the Republicans to demonize the gays again to beat Obama? Are we so desensitized to Republican hatemongering that we let it go unchalleneged?

    Ask yourselves, what does more harm: this stupid prank letter or the real threat created by a nationwide campaign of scapegoating gays?

    Has anyone called Fox News or wherever that scumbag Barnes works to complain about his despicable tactic?

    Focus people.

  • clarknt67

    Of course you’re right. The difference in my mind being, that Fred Barnes, Faux News and the GOP capaign tactic hit machine is a lost cause.

    All the complaining and letter writing in the world won’t convince those 3 to abandon those tactics so long as they work. So rather than focus on THEM, focus on coming out to your friends, family and co-workers so they realize the rhetoric these hate-mongers peddle is undeserved and should be rejected.

  • retrofit71

    the rite aid by my apartment on 14th Street employs the SLOWEST clerks in the the city. No, really, it’s painful checking out there. I think I’ll go over there now and blow someone in the shampoo aisle..

  • boy6221

    If I saw that flimsy note I’d rip it down.

  • bleepers

    There’s truth to CHURCHILL-Y’s comments- blacks and latinos are amongst the most homophobic(and f*ng lazy employees). I certainly hate it when they take over communities: it’s all downhill from there.

  • RPCV

    For God’s sake, if you don’t like Rite Aid’s policies, take your business elsewhere. Walgreen’s is likely right around the corner…….. Besides, I agree with the sign. Why would anyone need to kiss and hug in a Rite Aid anyway????? Take your damned PDAs and go elsewhere……… If you can’t keep your hands off your partner’s ass for 5 mintues, then you have issues. Here we go again, gays need therapy. Period.

  • Mr C

    Wait Girls,


  • Mr C

    Wait girls,

    Did Churchychicken just say she was in NYC? hahahaha Since when the low class Blue collar worker that she calls herself and claiming that Hillary is in her corner, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH can visit the Big Apple?

    How did you get to NYC girl Greyhound, Trailways, or hitch hiking? It suits your liking.

    Now this bitch sees a dark skinned Man and out of her mouth spews venon where it said the guys last name was hispanic (Not that it matters).
    What the FUCK do you know about the West Village Churchychicken your kind isn’t welcomed there?

    By the way BITCH All LGBT lives and congregate there
    This isn’t Hickory Stick Kentucky where you live.

    DUMB ASS Your Mother should be BITCH Slapped for even having you! Now everyone if the manager was White she would have paid it no mind. She sees dark skin, or at least claim to seen the person and her pimpled pussy gets all up in a twizzy.


  • Mr C

    There is no TRUTH to Churchychicken’s comments queen. You’re just as stupid and hateful as your suster is!

  • Jaroslaw

    I have no love for Corporate America, but this is obviously fake. At my local CVS pharmacy, I asked to put up a sign about a local charity event. One of the employees gave permission – and it was down before I left the store after getting my Rx. (thanks to my corporate health plan, can’t go to the independent pharmacy) No signs of any kind are allowed other than what is approved by corporate headquarters. And as already pointed out, it was taped up from the outside with tacky shipping tape? Someone had a grudge against Tom Marquez.

    Oh, and Miss Understood – I usually like your posts but maybe the telephone thing was because he got 5000 protest calls and he does have work to do…….

  • Tom

    Well Bleepers, if you hate when blacks and latinos take over communities, you’re just gonna really hate it when Obama takes over the most powerful community in the world…the entire United States!

    I guess you and the rest of your ignorant and pathetic racist friends can just simmer in your hate and think about the good ol’ days.

    What a loser.


    Whoa, this dialog has really deteriorated. Let’s all get along.

  • John

    Did anyone notice the “prankster” spelled management as “managment” – that’s usually a tipoff that it is an idiot….

  • MS

    Re; John #55 – Given the caliber of people they hire as managers, I wouldn’t put it past a Rite-Aid Manager to misspell “management”! :-)

    And speaking of caliber – Mr. C, you sound as hateful as you say Churchychicken is. When you say things like “your kind ain’t welcome here”, that smells from discrimination. Keep your street level vitriol to yourself, and come back out when you’re ready to play nicely.

  • Hypocrite

    MS, you single out Mr. C and say nothing to churchbitch? Its hypocritical and you are no better than what you condemn. So Fuck You. I don’t play nice either.

  • Mr C


    I always play nicely and KEEPS IT REAL!
    And if you can’t deal with that sweetie.


  • Jay

    It’s both sad and scary to realize that gays fall for such obvious hoaxes. Now tell me: WHO has the phobia? This sure does make the gay community look like a bunch of stupid neanderthals. And bigoted, too. Notice the elitist comments about the store’s minority workers, all members of Local 1199/SEIU I might add?

  • alan

    This is the answer I received after I complained to Rite-Aid via their website….

    Let me assure you that were taking this matter very seriously. These signs
    absolutely do not represent the view of Rite Aid nor the associate
    identified. One of our core values is to be a place where all customers and
    associates are treated with respect and dignity, where they feel appreciated
    and welcome.

    We are conducting an investigation regarding this matter as our findings
    show that these signs were not posted by any current Rite Aid associates as
    indicated. As soon as the signs were noticed, they were immediately removed.
    We’ve notified the local authorities on this act of vandalism and are
    offering our full support and cooperation so that the individuals
    responsible for this act of intolerance can be prosecuted to the fullest
    extent of the law.

    Customer Support

  • Curious

    Which cheeks are you going to kiss? Attention whores! How would you feel if heterosexuals came on your property and starting kissing? Do you ever use your brains or just your genitalia? You make yourselves look bad with your ignorance.

  • paul

    Rite Aid on 9th ave and 22nd st. “lost” me and my husband’s wedding photos, and offered no help to try find them or offer us an apology. The manager just said she didn’t know what happened. There were other people’s pictures spread out all over the place. Clearly they look through people’s things, and clearly they threw ours out.

  • Joseph

    This is the Internet, so I shouldn’t be surprised that this OBVIOUSLY FAKE sign — similar in tone and grammar to a recent racist “letter from management” taped outside a McDonald’s location in New York — has fooled so many people. Again, let me reiterate that this is CLEARLY fake. The misspelling, the poor grammar, the shoddy tape job. People (including reporters from Queerty) really need to stop believing the wrong 50% of what they see.

  • Lena

    I am not a huge fan of corporate companies (killing the ma & pa shops) but clearly this is a hoax. Maybe consider a new title for this post?

    Think about it. Anyone for ANY REASON can do that to any store anywhere! Its just a piece of paper taped to the store.

  • Rite Aid Rep

    The sign in question appeared four years ago on the outside of one of our stores. We immediately investigated, and found that no Rite Aid associate, including the one identified, posted the sign. We were appalled that anyone would post a sign like this outside our store, and it was removed as soon as store manager became aware of it. This sign certainly does not represent the view of Rite Aid nor the associate identified. We notified the local authorities on this act of vandalism and offered our full support and cooperation. Again, we took this matter very seriously. One of our core values is to be a place where all customers and associates are treated with respect and dignity, where they feel appreciated and welcome.

Comments are closed.