We found out over the weekend that John McGillion, the owner of Lulu’s, is suing his landlord, Guard General Merchandise Corp, for not allowing him to turn the establishment into a gay bar. McGillion told the Post that gay-ifying the bar would boost his customer base and raise profits, allowing him to survive in the now quite competitive Greenpoint nightlife market.
But apparently the lease has a specific homophobic clause forbidding this: “The leased Premises shall be used by Tenant as a restaurant and bar. It shall not be used for adult entertainment and shall not be operated as a gay or lesbian bar and/or restaurant.” Just the grouping of “adult entertainment” and “gay bar” is ridiculous/offensive, but so is including this level of discrimination in a legal document. What if the lease prohibited the bar from catering to blacks or Jews? Imagine that outrage that would cause.
Lulu’s has been around since 2005, but since so many other places have opened up in the immediate area (i.e. Ramona, Broken Land, etc.), it’s easy to see how making a consistent profit would be a the struggle. Even with free pizza!!! According to the Post, McGillon wrote in the Supreme Court papers filled last week: “I am barely scraping by on the proceeds of the bar . . . If I am permitted to operate a gay bar at the premises I believe that I will be able to make a considerable profit.”
Greenpoint is sorely lacking a gay bar, so McGillion might be onto something. Veronica People’s Club closed in the Spring of 2012. Blackout closed in the Fall of that year. Sugar land shut its doors in February. We still have Metropolitan Bar and This n’ That in Williamsburg (which has Ru Paul’s Drag Race screenings every Monday FYI), but there are clearly some geographic gaps here.
When Veronica People’s Club closed, Kelly Gorman, a promoter who hosted events at Blackout as well as the famed Kielbasa gay party, told the NY Times: many longtime Greenpointers “don’t necessarily want us there” and do not want their neighborhood to change, “especially when it comes to gay events.”
We’ll be keeping track of the case, but until then, we are left to gaze up at the stars in the Brooklyn night sky and ask, ever so gently, like a lone Disney character to a fairy princess about to grant one last wish….what would Dan Savage do? And then, it was as if he himself had answered our prayers from the homosexual heavens. We saw a sign. Despite all of this, Lulu’s is hosting the semi-finals of the Mr(s) Williamsburg pageant on 4/25… which is pretty much the apex of gay. Take solace in that, Lulu’s. Your parents might not let you come out on paper, but you can still do whatever the fuck you want when they’re not looking.
Funny the owner thinks his bar is unsustainable ten months until the lease expires and wants a few years tacked on at the current rate. He’s also as bad as the landlord when it comes to stereotyping gay people: “They do well because you don’t have issues of fighting.”
I’d hate to see the free pizza go as much as anyone else, but I can’t get behind Mr. Lulu.
“What if the lease prohibited the bar from catering to blacks or Jews?”
That is silly. I think we all agree it’d be kinda bad to have “black bars” or “jew bars”. Having “gay bars” is just as bad.
There are plenty of historically black bars in the city, and they’re important for the same reason as gay bars are: they’re a social space where a community with a history of systematic oppression is not just passively allowed but actively and overtly in control of the space, a role that they are often denied elsewhere. I’m not going to say that Lulu’s is going to be Greenpoint’s Stonewall, but bars that are specifically ‘gay bars’ do indeed play an important role that bars that simply welcome everyone do not fill.
owner wants out of a contract he signed and is just muddying up the waters.
if all the previous gay establishments shut down, maybe the idea isn’t a good one.
Given that the lease provision forbidding gay bars is probably unenforceable, it seems more likely a creative lawyer is trying to use its existence as a way of extending a lease which is about toe expire (under the theory that it would be compensation for illegally restrictions on the use of the property?). Otherwise what would stop the bar owner from simply starting marketing the bar to LGBT people right now?
Support your local dives! We don’t need yet another fancy cocktail bar opening up at the only place in Greenpoint where you can currently grab a beer and a pizza for $5. And if they want to serve up some extra sausage with those pies, I say more power to them.
Why do you necessarily equate a gay bar with a “fancy cocktail bar” ? The Metopolitan Lounge on Lorimer (with pool table, beer garden and hot dogs/hamburgers in back) is anything but a fancy cocktail bar. If you re-read the article you will see that the pizzas and beer for $5 is not encouraging enough business at Lulu’s. The idea is to expand the clientele base by catering to gay people who are not being served in Greenpoint. Gays enjoy pizza and beer too! (And curious hot straight guys who want to hang.)
“many longtime Greenpointers “don’t necessarily want us there” and do not want their neighborhood to change, “especially when it comes to gay events.”
This is a totally irrelevant quote. Its the leasing company that doesn’t want a gay bar, not the community.
Gay bars represent a particular personality and atmosphere – which is enjoyed by both gay and straight men and women with their ” safe space” vibe, just not homophobes and bigots. There is nothing “bad” about the concept of a gay bar.
it’s segregation that’s bad. “gay bar” , “straight bar”, etc
Appealing to or focusing in “gay interest” is no different than focusing on say “Sports” or an “Irish” pub or tiki bar. And yes , the neighborhood could use a full-on genuine craft cocktail tiki bar complete with decor and exotica as well!
ok – its well known that “gay” bars have taken a turn toward financial ruin in the area when they come out as gay bars due to longstanding eastern european ( read: polish ) undercurrent of homophobia. once a bar comes out ( not pun intended ) the complaints flow like vodka and red bull…
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