Starting in 2009, the weekly Friday night gay party, Rock It (originally at Amalia, now at Quo), has become notorious for turning away gay Asian and Pacific Islander (API) men. From our request of stories since August 2010, GAPIMNY has collected numerous, detailed stories that demonstrate a pattern of racial discrimination at Rock It. Although these instances were sporadic, they occurred often enough to raise many people’s attention and elicit strong reactions especially since there were clear cases of unequal treatment i.e. white patrons (same sized groups, arrival time, and dress) entering the club when gay API men were denied.
These experiences speak to greater social issues: assumptions that APIs don’t count or are dispensable; APIs don’t fight back; APIs don’t have or spend enough; APIs are undesirable/unattractive; gay APIs travel in groups and don’t socialize with others. This list goes on.
We also know that these incidents are neither new nor isolated to our community. For years, community activists in NYC have fought discrimination against all gay men of color, transgender individuals and women at popular gay bars/clubs.
We must build on this legacy and ensure that any discrimination based on race, gender and gender expression is stopped.
- An official letter sent to FornabaioVoss calling for an end to racial discrimination at the door of Rock It.
- Conversations with advocacy groups (Men of All Colors Together, Gay Men of African Descent, Audre Lorde Project).
- Conversations with City Council members (Christine Quinn, Danny Dromm)
- Conversations with local community boards
There were some great suggestions of next steps from the meeting. Some of these include: further legal action; media strategy (newspapers, blogs, magazines, picketing); tools to collect more data; recruiting the help of the NYC Human Rights Commission and local community boards (revoke liquor license); a public campaign that documents the history of racial discrimination at gay clubs with a list of bars/clubs that have a history of racial discrimination and a list of bars/clubs with a history of inclusion.
If you’d like to get involved with thinking through some of these, e-mail us at [email protected] with your name and contact info.