“Guerrilla gay bar” is a combination of flash mobbing and social activism in which a large crowd of gay and gay-friendly folks “invade” a straight nightclub for a night of partying outside the regular gay scene. Most guerrilla gay bar events are well-received by the venues, who are happy for the business and the notoriety. (Not to mention the excellent tipping.) That’s not how things went for Houston’s first such event last night.
About 100 gays were turned away from the Union Bar and Lounge in Midtown on Friday night, according to a press release from the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. Guerilla Gay Bar participants were made to wait in line when they started arriving at the bar, which was mostly empty at the time, while straight-appearing people were allowed in, the press release states. The growing crowd of gays gathered outside in the rain was told by employees that the bar was trying to maintain a “ratio.” This is despite the fact that Guerilla Gay Bar organizers had contacted the owner in advance, and were told they would be welcomed. The press release states that Houston is the only major city in Texas that doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations, meaning there may be no legal recourse. However, a protest reportedly is being planned outside the bar tonight.
A Facebook group has immediately sprung up to support a boycott of the Union Bar & Lounge. I’ll admit that I’m surprised to learn that Houston has no LGBT protections for public accommodation. However, there may be more to this story. The nightclub is claiming that they are very gay friendly, but that their legal occupancy could not allow extra people in addition to a large private birthday planned for later in the evening. Additionally, some gay attendees are saying that our people unnecessarily harassed the door staff.
NOTE: I think the guerrilla gay bar phenomenon began back in San Francisco about 10-12 years ago. At least, that’s when I first heard of it and participated. Anyone know the history?