It’s long been known that bad word of mouth can kill bars and restaurants. In this age of social media, when the knives come out we all get to watch the ensuing carnage.
On Saturday night, heterosexual journalist Duncan Greive was out with his mates on a stag do. Upon attempting to enter the Neighbourhood Bar in Kingsland, Duncan and his mates found himself out in the cold. Here’s what Duncan tweeted about the incident at 8:15pm:
“On a stag. Tried to go to Neighbourhood. Bouncer says they don’t let “gay cunts” in. Partying like it’s 1953.”
Through retweets and Facebook shares, the story was everywhere within less than an hour. I have been to Neighbourhood a number of times and found it a great place to go. I also happen to know a lot of bears who go there – Kingsland is hardly known as a redneck neighbourhood.
At 11:30pm I posted on Neighbourhood’s Facebook wall:
“So did one of your bouncers really turn away a guy tonight saying you don’t let “gay cunts” into the bar? Please, let us know if it’s true so we can stop spending the money from our big fat gay wallets in your establishment.”
The question was quickly followed by ‘please explains’ from other gay patrons.
“You guys are my local,” said Mike George. “I spend a shitload of money there…won’t be spending another cent there if this is true.”
“I agree – as a brand we tend to somewhat rather keep the till rather full. And if that is true one little upcoming event at a certain neighbor hood bar will be canceled,” said Warwick Mills.
“We go there frequently,” said Jordon Harris. “Two weeks ago, there were a whole pack of us ‘gay cunts’ there taking up much of the courtyard, and I know we were spending more than anyone else coz the people who are allowed into this establishment were all drinking beer and not eating……I will be sure to let everyone know about this…”
Gay media picked up on the story and started following it up as well. By the morning, management reps had posted a response on Facebook assuring patrons that the “stupid” comment made by the doormen did not reflect the attitude of Neighbourhood itself – thus confirming that the incident had indeed occurred.
“We are all about our community, and that means all of the diverse people that make it what it is; what we are not about is bigoted people who clearly don’t think they live in 2012. This dosen’t excuse what this doorman said, It’s our responsibility to deal with it and we will, but it’s important to us to let people know that Neighbourhood is more than open to all (unless you are angry or drunk!)”
This somewhat ambiguous response was not satisfactory enough for most. My mate George from The Healthy Bear summed up what many of us were thinking:
“So what is happening with regards to the bouncer? As the first person representing your establishment will you continue to employ a person that is 1) homophobic and 2) clearly driving business away from your establishment?”
By Monday morning, Neighbourhood announced it was having a senior management meeting over the issue and would be issuing a posting about the outcome. True to its word, it did.
“…the doorman in question has been removed from the door at Neighbourhood, and will not be working there at all in the future. We also realise that we have been found wanting a bit in our own management at night, that our managers need to spend more time on the door with the doormen to make sure we are being inclusive as to who we are letting in, as well as making sure those who can destroy the atmosphere in a night, the angry and the drunk, are not.
Lastly, we want to again apologise to Duncan Greive and all those who were offended by the comments made by the doorman in question. We take this seriously because this type of behaviour is not at all representative of what Neighbourhood is and wishes to be, and hopefully we have done and will do enough for it to not happen again. Thanks all.”
Greive confirmed via Twitter that the bar had called him to apologise, and were taking the incident “super seriously” and “not in a glib corporate way either. V impressed.”
The moral of this story is in the title of this post. When it comes to business, homophobia does not pay, but if something like this happens, you have to make a noise about it. You can’t just bitch about it to your friends or write it off as unimportant. By speaking up, you are helping to create a safer, more inclusive environment for all of us.
Of course, with business it’s a little easier because there’s always the financial incentive – but what screws can be turned to combat homophobia in other areas of society where the much-touted (and in many cases, mythical) pink dollar cannot be wielded as a weapon of choice?