The Abbey’s Owner Speaks With CNN About Bachelorette Ban

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin spoke with David Cooley, the owner of West Hollywood’s famed Abbey, about the bar’s recent ban on bachelorette parties. Cooley frames it as a sociopolitical issue, saying, “It’s great to see my straight women coming in celebrating with their girlfriends… [but] it was hurtful to me being gay, as well as my clientele, that we cannot have that same type of celebration.”

Baldwin, who’s marvelous at framing questions to challenge any flaws in an interviewee’s reasoning, asks Cooley if, in the quest for non-discrimination of gays, isn’t banning a heterosexual celebration discrimination?

“It’s not that I’m discriminating against the women coming in, it’s just a ban against bachlorette parties…. It’s a ban against just the celebration itself,” not the women.

Despite Cooley’s best efforts to frame this as a call for equality, any regular gay bargoer who has been accosted by a bachelorette party knows what this is really about: Those women are annoying as all hell! Gay bars are by definition places where gay men go to seek out the company of other gay men, and to find drunken lovin’.

A bachelorette party’s success is defined how much scandalous, naughty debauchery can be stuffed into one evening like a bride into her too-tight wedding dress. Gay bars are our everyday life. We don’t like be treated as a novelty act when we’re out trying to flirt with guys. A gaggle of giggling women desperate to get wacky with us is like a bucket of ice cold water diffusing the sexual energy.


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  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    Aaron: While your points are true and relevant, they are not completely accurate. I first started going to the Abbey when it opened in the early 1990s, much more frequently while living in Baja Bel Aire (Beverly Glenn). There always was the strong showing of patronage from the friendly straight crowd. Long before Starbucks and Noahs, the Abbey was a great coffee bar and drew the needed support of the community. Not just straight women, but the straight men too, typically joining gay friends, were regulars.

    As the Abbey grew and expanded, our straight friends continued enjoying the place too.

    Indeed bachelorette parties include the loud “whahoo” shouts and obnoxious intrusions to other patrons; but that is also true of many other groups of patrons.

    Why not accept the owner’s word for his decision: it is obnoxious that bachelorette parties rub those who cannot enjoy the rights and privileges of marriage the wrong way.

    BTW, in a story about bachelorette parties, you might want to spell “bachlorette” [sic] properly; does raise the question of whether you know what you are writing about.

  • Aaron Coleman

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: Thanks for the spelling correction. I’m pretty confident I know the definition of “bachelorette” even if I inadvertently left out the letter “e.” :-)

    To address your other comments, to ban bachelorette parties as a cry for marriage equality is certainly an applauded reason, but it’d be naive to think it’s the only reason. I’ve experienced several gay bars when a bachelorette party would arrive, but they were respectful, and no regular patron had a problem. There is a behavior from a group of people that seems to be frowned upon more than the reason that the group is there. You’re right, there are other types of patrons who behave the same way, but bachelorette parties are the easiest to finger and the most common.

  • ron

    It starts with bachelorettes, then it’s polygomist gatherings, then it’s people bringing in their cats and dogs. It’s a slippery slope…..

  • Bobby Trendy

    Well, I think David Cooley has a good point. Also people should be allowed to marry any one they want. Its thier life let them be happy:)

  • Clockwork

    The ban comes off as petty, almost childish…

    But hey! This is America and a business owner has the right(usually) to refuse service to anyone.

  • Jonathonz

    Rather than an outright ban on bachelorette parties the Abbey might institute a policy that simply discourages them. Perhaps they might require a reservation for parties of 10 or more and when the reservation is made the policy is explained to the caller. The Abbey is a gay bar after all and should be allowed to operate like one. They still might need to discourage rowdy behavior from large groups of drunk women on the spot but at least these gatherings would be curbed without having to go on CNN to explain it.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @ron: Very droll; well done!

  • JayKay

    The ban doesn’t go far enough. Women are the worst thing that can happen to any gay bar, whether they’re part of a bachelorette party or not.

    Ideally gay bars should start implementing a sort of “reverse ladies night” system where women are charged an outrageously high cover price, and are required to pay three times what men pay for drinks. More gay men also need to start bringing their straight friends with them and let them know it’s open season on anything with tits.

    If we can’t just ban women altogether, thanks a lot liberals, we should be making the experience of going to a gay bar as unpleasant and unwelcoming for them as possible.

  • BeauBeau

    I don’t think the direct point of him banning bachelorette parties was to change club atmosphere, even if they are annoying and distracting indirectly to club-goers. I think his stance and message are clear, even though it is humorous to look at other possible reasons… I also think it is important to take away the emphasis that this is NOT discrimination. This is where most arguments around the issue center. These women still have every right to attend the club… just not in celebration form. I honestly hope more clubs follow suite. These women should just be thankful that they are not being actively discriminated against, like homosexuals are.

    I’d also like to point out that Cooley is likely to be taking a fall due to the loss of clientele from bachelorette parties… Although, more patrons may flock to the bar because of less obnoxious drunk girls.

  • Spike

    It’s just the CrAbbey’s desperate attempt to get the local gay clientele back.

    BTW, doesn’t this Cooley guy have the $$ to hire a PR representative, he couldn’t do a worse job explaining his position and talking up marriage equality, OH, its on CNN, never mind, no one is watching anyway.

  • Dave

    I agree with Spike. The Abbey sucks and they’re going to lose money by banning people from the bar.

  • Mark

    I used to love going to the Abbey. But so many of our gay spaces have been invaded by straights such that they’re no longer gay safe havens. Santa Monica blvd, the Castro, Oxford Street in Sydney are all being lost to straights. So sad.

  • DenverBarbie

    It is sad Mr. Cooley had to implement such a policy, as these are women who would probably call themselves “allies” if asked. Friends of gay and lesbian people ought to understand the emotion behind and the struggle of the marriage equality battle. It is our most publicized plight at present! Would a true ally allow such great selfishness to cloud their judgment around their wedding day? It is crystal clear as can be that celebrating your legal, heterosexual wedding in a gay bar is not only ironic, but grossly insensitive.
    Unless you’re a lady marrying your lady, get your bacherlorette party out. And don’t come back for your anniversary celebrations, either.

    @JayKay: I get that you are a troll and “just kidding,” but I am still troubled to see any posts that sound to be supportive of sexual assault or rape; it is dangerous that someone might come on here and take your “tell them it’s open season on anything with tits” suggestion to heart. I have been assaulted by a straight man at a gay bar. I am a woman, I am not a heterosexual one, gay bars are my space as much as they are yours- and I (and all of my sisters) do not deserve to be intimidated out of them.

  • Spike

    @DenverBarbie: “…as these are women who would probably call themselves “allies” if asked.”

    Allies, unlikely. If asked they would probably say “Its the only place in LA with males strippers ,there are no line for the women’s restroom and none of the guys hit on us because they are all fags.”

  • L

    This is one of the most hypocritical ideas I have heard. The Abbey is always teeming with a wide variety of people and to put a stop to bachelorette parties is just a PR stunt. I know his PR guy, and I’ve worked in PR myself and this is just a step backwards, not forward. The message is completely stupid. “Gay safe havens?” The abbey is the last place I would go to escape homophobic persecution. I am all about accepting everyone and understanding that people have different viewpoints, why not have a fundraiser or something against prop 8 instead of blatantly punishing straight women who obviously love the gays and now we’re pushing them out. GREAT JOB!

  • LJ

    I wish Blake’s in Atlanta would ban bachlorette parties!

  • H

    “Gay bars are our everyday life.”

    Speak for yourself please. Not all of us need booze and promiscuity to have a meaningful day.

  • DouggSeven

    Why not ban ugly/old people since they can potentially be an eyesore to your so-called precious clientele?
    Come on man, you can’t have it both ways. A bar’s purpose is to serve drinks/food in a clean/safe environment. Would this owner agree then that it would be okay to ban gays from Hooters? He and most everyone else would have a shit if they did. Let the girls have their Sex and The City night of fun – it’s actually social progress, dummy.

  • HeroQueero

    Is this ban really ridiculous? Where were all these single ladies and their friends when California was voting on marriage equality? Are we supposed to continue supporting those who don’t take the time to support us? Would heterosexual bars be as cordial to us if we started having our bachelor parties in their establishments? As it stands now, there are still plenty of comedians and celebrities who use gay culture for cheap laughs, as if this was the 1930’s and the audience is laughing at black-face actors, buck-toothed Asians, and over-the-top effeminate queers. I say let the Abbey ban these ridiculous parties that use us and our culture to celebrate something that is not permitted for us in the state of California.

    “It is foolish to listen to someone who will not listen to you.” ~Japanese proverb

  • L

    @HeroQueero: Well it’s obvious that these are not the “ladies” who were voting for that in the first place. Everyone is so over-sensitive about everything and then things like this become a fad…banning bachelorette parties??? really? That is not a step in the right direction, that is going backwards. The fact is comedians use everyone for everyone for cheap laughs. Like I said, this is just a PR stunt for publicity for the Abbey…that is a fact. We’re talking about it…so it’s definitely working and David Cooley even got on CNN.

  • Joe stratford

    It’s nothing but a stunt!

    The abbey ceased to be a gay bar years ago. It is a straight bar that is gay friendly. They did that so the business owners can make money off of everyone who think WeHi is cool.

    The economy is bad bow and look – the gays have more disposable income – so the Abbey is becoming a gay bar now.

    I pity the gay guy who believes the owners of the abbey. They are a bunch of money grubbers who will drop you all ifthis experiment fails to get them more money.

    Go to Mickey’s it’s better. Or the Factory.

  • Owen

    I said the last time this came up. Its easy. You never ban ANYONE, EVER.

  • Terry

    I’m surprised something like this didn’t happen much earlier, say right after the passage of prop 8. Also, just because these people party at a gay bar, doesn’t necessarily mean they are automatically allies. There are sympathetic straight people who strongly believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Just because theyr’e friendly to us doesn’t mean they’re gonna have our backs. Just saying.

  • PTBoat

    I wonder if having a bachelorette party in a room full of people who cannot get married is much different than than white people swimming in a “whites only” pool while their black friends sit on the sidelines and serve them drinks. It’s rude. Banning such parties, in bars that cater to gay people, until marriage equality is reached does not seem childish, but seems like a way to keep rude people from flaunting their privilege in the home of those who have none.

  • HeroQueero

    @L I agree that bans are usually a step backwards, but a publicity stunt like this can still be used to draw attention to equality issues. We don’t live in the same world as heterosexuals and most of the time they tend to forget that. They don’t get asked to leave establishments if they hold hands with their partners. They aren’t imprisoned or assaulted for showing affection in public to their partners. They aren’t lumped in with pedophiles and bestiality. Their marriages are considered to be “valid” wherever they go. And they don’t have religious zealots calling for their execution. Not a big deal, some of you say? I say it’s not enough of a big deal! And by the way, comedians can’t use the “N” word on stage but still have carte blanche to use the “F” word to pigeonhole gays.

  • L

    @HeroQueero: True, but unfortunately I don’t think the Abbey has my best interests in mind in reality. I don’t think this brings up anything positive whatsoever and I see it as a very negative thing. I live a couple blocks away from the Abbey and what I enjoy about it is that it so diverse and anyone can go there, I bring my straight friends all the time. All of your points are valid, but banning bachelorette parties does not add anything but discrimination to a group of people who are now saying to themselves “what the fuck?” as I did when I read about this. I also forget, that I have been lucky to grow up in Southern California (and reside in West Hollywood) where I have yet to receive any kind of homophobic discrimination against myself in any way and I know that in other areas this is not the case. It’s a sensitive subject for anyone, but my point really is that the Abbey is doing this for themselves, not for us.

  • Tracy Johnson

    Though I agree with the ban.(As a very tolerant gay women these woohoo girls even annoy the hell out of me). But lets not turn this into an excuse to go backwards and start bashing women. I’m old enough to remember when our community was split down gender lines; and because of that we could’nt get a hell of a lot done. As soon the AIDS crisis brought us together thats when things started happening in leaps and bounds. To those born post 1990(the year I graduated high school-yes I’m old). That’s my little history lesson for you today.

  • Rick K

    I agree with David and am very proud of him for taking the stance. It’s about equality for all and to have women celebrating a right that we are denied gays is just insulting, not to mention hurtful. My hope is that this raises the awareness of straight people of the severity of the situation.

  • darkorient

    It’s discrimination no matter how you look at it.

Comments are closed.