Implicit bias?

Philly accuses 11 gay bars of creating “preferable environments for white, cisgender male patrons”

A Philadelphia civil-rights agency just released a lengthy report on discrimination in the city’s “Gayborhood,” claiming that 11 local gay bars have simply failed to create a “‘safe space’ for all LGBTQ people.”

The report claims that these eleven bars have instead created “preferable environments for white, cisgender male patrons.”

Related: Should Straight People Be Banned From Gay Bars? The Debate Rages On

According to Eater, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is requiring each owner of 11 gay bars to attend anti-discrimination courses, which will include implicit bias training and lengthy discussions on unintentional racism and sexism.

The report comes on the heels of a YouTube video that surfaced last fall, which features Darryl DePiano, the owner of ICandy, using the N-word.

Since then, the agency has received several complaints about sexism and racism at local gay bars.

The owners of the 11 gay bars were subpoenaed by the city to attend a hearing last fall, during which the venues’ dress codes and employment practices were heavily scrutinized.

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations concluded that “overwhelmingly, the testimony revealed incidents of bias, feelings of frustration, prejudice, and discrimination.”

Related: Conservative students fear colleges too liberal, wish they could be more racist and homophobic

One complaintant, listed in the report as D. London, said that “every bar is owned by a white gay cisman. This is a clear indicator of severely entrenched systemic racism.”

K. Apostol, a black lesbian, reported that she would sometimes have to wait as long as 15 minutes for a drink at ICandy and Woody’s (pictured), while watching gay men receive significantly faster service.

“This,” she writes, “is blatant gender discrimination.”

Here’s another account:

As a woman, my partner and I, and our friends, have experienced feeling invisible in bars — specifically at Woody’s and ICandy — and have watched on multiple occasions men who came up to the bar after us, get served before us. This happens so often that if I happen to be out with some gay male friends, we will ask them to order our drinks for us.

Another complaint lamented the lack of lesbian bars in the city, and its author said she felt unwelcome at gay bars even though she wants “to be out in a LGBT ‘safe’ space.”

Other complaintants felt white gay men received preferential treatment to black men at these bars.

“What do I file about the hundred cuts of subtle racism that we have to endure every single day?” writes M. Kenyatta. “What do I file when I go to the bar and the bartender looks at me and goes to someone else?”

Do you agree that LGBTQ venues overwhelmingly favor white gay men? Sound off in the comments below. 

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47 Comments

  • HalcyonDays

    I’m sure I will get flamed for this, but I think it’s ok that some bars cater to some crowds, as some cater to others. For the most part, I think we self select the bar/crowd we are most comfortable with based on a wide range of criteria, not only race and gender. I live in NYC so there is wide selection of bars. As a man in his 50s, I would be welcomed at some and feel out of place at others due to my age. I’m fine with that.

    I come form for a generation when creating our own specific family, sub-culture, community was a natural part of being gay. I enjoy that uniqueness.

    • Chris

      Like you, Halycon, I remember when going to a gay bar was an act of bravery (as well as an act of horniness). But now, things have changed. Our values (should) have changed. And younger folk are all into stuff — like intersectionality — that I had no idea existed “back in my day” when I adapted to what the world threw at me. I have had to change my attitudes; and though I’m not always happy to change (can’t you just leave me alone to drink and ogle those youngsters?!), I am grateful for those changes because they show progress.

      And gay bars, their owners, and their staff need to change with the times. Just as I expect to be able to walk into any sort of establishment and be treated with a modicum of respect, I think that others have the same rights.

      Though I will admit that, when I read something that starts with “white cis-gender male,” my eyes glaze over and I grab another martini.

  • IDoNotHaveToAgreeWithYou

    So when is Philly going to enact mandatory training in the ghetto teaching them to not to be violent homophobes?

    • Kangol

      Wow, you clearly just put down your Mein Kampf and KKK induction papers, huh?

    • dwes09

      What exactly does one have to do with the other?
      Do you feel gay people have to put up with various kinds of discrimination until the various cultural dysfunctions that result from institutionalized racism are remediated, and if so why? Please be specific and use your brain (if it works). If you can’t, accept being seen as the buffoon you may well be.

  • s

    Typical nonsense, especially from the lesbian. If you want a lesbian bar, open one. But ask yourself why so many lesbian bars have vanished. The government should not have to subsidize one to make you feel welcome.

  • ErikO

    Fake news and there’s not a problem with “racist” employees at LGBT bars in Philadelphia.

  • FnameLname

    You’re kidding right? I know very few communities that go out of there way to be all inclusive the way the LGBTQ community does. The majority of gay white males that I know have never expressed an ounce of racism; especially since most of them date people of color regularly. The diversity is something that is celebrated in our community but for some reason there has been this underlying tone that white gay males are the enemy that seemed to start around the time the Stonewall film was being released. People started saying that white gay men were not fighting for gay rights the way others were..which is certainly not the case. When you see photos of the protesters there is an abundance of diversity, including white gay males. I think there may be some prejudice going on that needs to stop. We are all in this together and for the most part want the same things for our community.

  • Nuttypea

    Did any of these complainants even bother to try and change the culture themselves? I’m not even talking about opening you’re own bar, it’s pretty easy to make a petition of local community members interested of a monthly/weekly “ladies night” and present it to the club owners? I can’t reasonably believe that zero out of eleven club owners would pass up getting regular business from an invested local community.

  • phillip_smith

    I am a white cis male Philly native. Let be real there is absolutely a racial problem in Philadelphia that permeates most experiences including those in the gayborhood.

    While I don’t believe most gay bar owners in Philadelphia are not bigots looking to discriminate against people of color (though the icandy footage is pretty damning on that account), this does not mean that they are not guilty of supporting systems that are discriminatory or turning a blind eye to racially insensitive practices conducted in their establishments. Not being a bigot also does not give you freedom to ignore the concerns of women or people of color.

    Many of the comments here are indicative of why people of color feel they cannot report when discrimination is happening. We as the gay community should strive to do better and believe people when they claim that they are being treated unfairly. Asking these businesses to undergo training and education is in everyone’s best interest. We should demand that they commit to providing spaces that safe and equitable to all patrons.

    That said Halcyon is correct that not every bar needs to be catered to every audience. While gay bars have been important meeting places for our community they are at the end of the day still business. Their primary purpose is to turn a profit. There are many safe spaces in Philadelphia that are non-profit that seek to provide safe spaces for the community.

    If there are a lack of lesbian bars or bars specifically targeting people of color, and there is enough business to sustain these businesses, there is no reason one cannot be opened and owned by a person of color or a woman. Should an application go in for a business of this nature be submitted the current bars should voice support for its approval.

    • IDoNotHaveToAgreeWithYou

      So tell us are as a white gay male are there no black and hispanic area’s of the city you are afraid you would be killed in for being white and/or gay?

    • phillip_smith

      I work in a predominantly African American neighborhood with families of all different backgrounds. I take public transit to and from work and have never once had a problem. While I have encountered discrimination or bigotry as a result of my sexuality the far more common reaction that I have experienced with people of color is acceptance and tolerance.

      I am realistic about the fact that there is a problem with violence in my city but this more often than not a result of socio-economic factors such as lack of access to good schools, employment opportunities, or public services. I honestly cannot even recall an instance where a white person was targeted for their skin color.

    • Captain Obvious

      Thanks for telling the truth and being an actual human being. Ironically the idiot who replied to you made not one but two racist statements now. Somehow it went over his head that he’s the type this article is about all the while subconsciously acknowledging it by defensively spewing hate.

    • IDoNotHaveToAgreeWithYou

      Oh it’s now racist to point out blacks are far more violently homophobic than any other group and have a much higher per capita murder rate than any other group? Yeah facts can be so racists.

    • JAW

      Do I think there are some issues in the Gayborhood? Perhaps

      Are they as wild as they have been made out to be??? Hell NO!

      Some of these comments show how those complaining come across

      “One complaintant, listed in the report as D. London, said that “every bar is owned by a white gay cisman. This is a clear indicator of severely entrenched systemic racism.”… Well what is keeping D and others, from opening their own bar? Does D expect them to give some of the bars away?

      Here is another
      K. Apostol, a black lesbian, reported that she would sometimes have to wait as long as 15 minutes for a drink at ICandy and Woody’s (pictured), while watching gay men receive significantly faster service.
      “This,” she writes, “is blatant gender discrimination.” Is it?? Bartenders work for TIPS, They see people clearly who TIP WELL… others seem a bit blurry. the term TIPS means “To Insure Prompt Service” I bet that is the bigger issue.
      Here is another…
      Another complaint lamented the lack of lesbian bars in the city, and its author said she felt unwelcome at gay bars even though she wants “to be out in a LGBT ‘safe’ space.”.. Well there used to be women’s bars… but they closed due to lack of business. Hepburn’s, Sneaker’s, Sisters and others. Ask many women who DO go and have fun in the other bars. Many will tell you they can’t handle the fights and jealously that goes on… On a bright note Twisted Walnut just opened.

      As for the meeting… It was a joke. None of the bar owners were able to speak. Indeed, they could not even get into the hearing room. So the hearing board, or the room, never got to hear the other side. It was a bit of a Kangaroo Court.
      I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
      Martin Luther King, Jr.

      I Think that M L King said it best.

    • demetreus

      “IDontHaveToAgreeWithYou” is the worst type of racist. A coward taking the conversation to murder and crime, when the post is about service at a bar. This coward type of racist uses “fear for my life” tactics to get its ( and I use that word correctly) point across because it’s too ignorant to understand that discrimination happens to everyone, not just gay black men or women. When a florist down south refuses to sell flowers to a gay couple because she doesn’t believe in gay marriage, is that race related? When a caterer refuses catering service for a gay wedding because of their Christian belief, is that about race? When a gay couple sits in a restaurant and doesn’t get proper service because the waiter is homophobic, is that race related?
      The fact that you are unable to empathize with the people mentioned in this blog means that you are ignorant. Don’t get it twisted doll, you are ignorant. If you believe that somehow you are magically unaffected or to high on your pedestal to care, again, you are ignorant.

    • matt_be

      Phil is 100% correct. I live here too and it’s a huge problem.

    • jar

      I was raised in and came out in Philly in the 80’s. This was a big problem then. Kurt’s, a dance club, was the worst, carding only black people and making them wait outside. Bars, especially woody’s, would give worse service to black patrons. It was commonplace. Now, I left in 89, so I can’t speak to these incidents, but there is certainly a history with this. The Philly gay scene was pretty segregated in those days.

    • Chris

      Well put. Thank you.

  • Captain Obvious

    It’s almost comical that people are replying with racist statements while claiming there’s no racism.

    • Paco

      I see you noticed the “go make your own space to feel welcome in” sentiments in the comments as well.

  • Kieran

    I think this is what is known as being hoisted by your own crazy, politically correct petard.

  • Blackceo

    As a former resident of Philly and someone who still visits occasionally, I can attest that this is true. I never had any issues with being treated poorly, but I did observe it first hand when I used to regularly go to the gayborhood. I have been told by friends who remained in Philly that this is still an issue. Most things are done in a subtle manner, but still recognized by those for whom it is intended.

    Based on some of the comments here, its pretty obvious that you wouldn’t even recognize it if it happened to your friend of color (if you have any) and sounds like you wouldn’t even care. I appreciate the first hand accounts of people who actually are from Philly instead of folk who have never stepped foot and have the loudest, most ignorant comments to make. Take several naps….cuz seats ain’t good enough.

  • Chris

    My first reaction is that the lesbians I know don’t tip well. I’ve had to go back and increase what they left the bartenders. So my experience is that their lousy service is due to their lousy tipping.

    But then, there’s nothing wrong with taking some sensitivity training every so often. So I’m on board with that.

    Now, let’s talk about them bars in the heterosexual neighborhoods and see how accepting they are.

    • JAW

      WOW… You Really Said that… Seriously???

      You said what most are think…

      You are Brave man… Congrats!

    • Sluggo2007

      You are spot on, Chis. Every bartender I ever knew rolled his eyes and cursed when a group of lesbians came into the bar. They are notoriously bad tippers. I worked in a gay bar when I was in college. It was a new place and quickly became popular with the lesbian crowd because they were not wanted elsewhere in the city. I found out why shortly after. The bar closed 6 months after it opened because the owner couldn’t keep employees. They all left because the tips were lousy.

  • jhon_siders

    Well if a bar wants to attract a certain group that’s there choice .I will say every bar in Louisville that invited the rap and hip hop crowd in has closed up from all the problems with the police responding to incidents that it brought with it Both gay and str8 establishments . RIP Jim porters Phoenix hill Woodys and warehouse .

    • demetreus

      Question: What would you do if you went to a restaurant and your service was slow because your waiter was homophobic?
      You sir have a Narrow-minded point of view, but it’s a free country, right? As a gay black man, I stand proud to take part in the fight for all of our rights, regardless of race! Especially in these times where a lot of our rights are at risk by the new administration.
      The LGBTQ community is not about a “certain group” it’s about all of us coming together. The ignorance of racism should NEVER be justified in our community. I have the right to sit at any bar, be served without prejudice and enjoy myself!

    • Jack Meoff

      @demetreus I hate to say it but the GLBT community has not been ‘coming together’ for almost two decades. The days of inclusion and celebrating differences within our community are long gone to be replaced by elitism and judgement.

  • demetreus

    The ignorance of racism should NEVER be justified in our gay community! What would you guys do if you were in a restaurant and a waiter didn’t give you proper service because he or she didn’t want to wait on a gay person? And trust me, that stuff happens and it ain’t got nothing to do with race!!

  • demetreus

    I expected to come to this type of post, read comments and walk away feeling like gay people have really grown after all we’ve had to fight for. Unfortunately, I am disheartened by some of the comments I’ve read. What type of gay person justifies discrimination, when most of the world discriminates on us?

    • Sluggo2007

      (Whine, whine. Sniffle, sniffle. Sob. Sob. Oh, woe is me.)

  • MediaGuy

    Philly has the most extreme race problem, compared to other places. I spent 4 years there at Temple and I date only black/brown men. The differences between the way my date was treated was remarkable. Free covers for me, he had to pay, free shots, nothing for him, a tour of Woodys when it was re-decorated, and oh yeah, he can come too. Blacks are considered to be trouble in Philly and are shunned and ignored. It’s a thing.

  • Shadeaux

    As a black person, I know the majority of all other races hate us, especially if they don’t know us. As a gay black person I know that is going to come 10 fold even in the “gayborhood.” We’re used to it. We either put up with it or just find a place that friendly to us and stick with it. I’m speaking for those of us who have come to terms with it and who don’t get frustrated by it.

  • Sluggo2007

    “every bar is owned by a white gay cisman. This is a clear indicator of severely entrenched systemic racism.” No. It’s a clear indicator of taking control of your life and opening a business instead of spending your money on crack. Now whites have to be derided by blacks because they own a business? Apparently they ran out of things to whine about.

    • demetreus

      OMG, thank you so much for enlightening me! All of us gay blacks should stop spending our money on crack and go open up our own businesses…. My parents own several businesses and that must have been the key to their success.. not spending their money on crack.

      I have a feeling you don’t get out too often, which is probably a good thing for your safety.

    • demetreus

      Remind me to never step foot in any business that you own. Actually, I am pretty sure you don’t own much in life.

    • Sluggo2007

      @demetreus – I must have really hit a nerve. Screech! Screech! Screech! The truth really hurts, doesn’t it?

    • hassia

      Did you know that after WWII the government introduced the GI bill. This was the bastion of the new middle class. Housing loans, free college education. Equity. Further this was the time of suburbs. Now did you know that the 1 million black GI’s could not even use the GI bill, because banks would not give them the loans also Universities were not enrolling black soldiers. We all know that the strength of the middle class was based on the GI bill. The children of those that received the GI bill, are today’s middle class/upper class. Now back to your query, if as I have stated banks would not give loans based on the colour of your skin, how will said person get the loan to open said business? I am sure that you and many other readers did not know this information. You probably did not know about Black wall street, You probably do not know about Vivien Thomas. That unfortunately is to be expected when you read his story instead of history.

  • lauraspencer

    I have lived in NYC for years. There are bars I have felt welcomed visiting and others I have not. The ones that treat me well I return to, but the ones that do not I don’t bother with anymore. Simple. Speak with your wallet.

  • scottybro

    “Every bar is owned by a white gay cisman. This is a clear indicator of severely entrenched systemic racism.” – So open up your own non-white lesbian bar… Anyone can open up their own restaurant or bar. As a note, bartenders get busy and maybe want to serve their regulars first. Sounds like she just wants preferential treatment.

  • Karl in Philly

    Such silliness. Once again, certain groups blame other groups. We have bigger fish to fry – like homophobia in the black community. Let’s see how it would go over to send owners of black straight bars to gay sensitivity training…

    • Blackceo

      Nope…we aren’t playing that game again. Homophobia is present in all races. You aren’t going to tack that on the Black community alone. Look at your political figures, mostly White, who would have great desire in rolling back protections against LGBTQ folk.

    • hassia

      Black people say there is racism in the gay community, white gays tell them there is not. Woman says she is sexually harassed men tell them they are lying. See a pattern here? Onto the blacks being more homophobic than whites, please could anyone link me to a piece of anti gay legislation made into law by black politicians. I am sure I will learn Chinese in the time it takes one of you to find that law!

  • richard2179

    Y’all do remember the stink we caused over Vivica Fox creating a women’s only space for strippers, right? Now we tell lesbians to start their own space and get out of ours? Confused!

  • seaguy

    It seems like millennials have been coddled and shielded from the real world and when they experience it they don’t like it and expect everyone to conform to their ways. In the real world your not on a college campus that protects you from hearing certain words or any views that run counter to your own. In the real world you have to deal with people who have different views than yours. Gay bars have always been known to cator to subsets of the community. Dance clubs attract people who like to dance, drag queens,etc. Sports bars tend to attract those into sports or who are more athletic. Usually those bars were opened by an entreprenuer who saw that there was a need for a bar to serve that part of the community. Just because someone does not identify with that community does not make it a racist bar.

    When I first started going to the bars I was intimidated by the guys at the Eagle cause I was young, and a little queeny so I didn’t really fit in with the leather/levi crowd. But I didn’t expect the patrons at the Eagle to change or the bar itself to suddenly start playing Madonna instead of the hard rock music usually played. So I don’t see why these people feel that if they don’t feel like they are fitting in that it is the bar that is being racist. Go to another bar then if there is not one well you can open one of go to another city. But don’t expect a business to change its well established format or style so that you feel more welcome.

    • SumSay

      Treating clientele that are both white and male, better than the clientele that is black or female is blatantly racist and misogynistic. The problem isn’t “fitting in”, the problem is people are being left out and treated differently because their outward appearance is different from the general patronage, and that’s wrong.

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