A Change.org Petition Asks Philly Gayborhood Bars to “Diversify”

woodys gay bar gayborhood

Metro columnist Ernest Owens‘ piece “Black Not Fetch Enough for Woody’s?” from in May of this year caused quite a heated debate about racial segregation in gay Philly, and when G Philly interviewed him several days after his article came out, he claimed that “separate isn’t always equal” when it comes to gay spaces:

“The inclusive vibe of the space and the respect that takes place is what is lacking. You can put various people of color in one room, but that doesn’t mean they feel as welcomed. Clearly, Woody’s and iCandy had no problem accepting my cash to enter, but after checking in my coat, my experience didn’t match what the white gays experienced. Acceptance and tolerance are two different things.”

Yesterday, Owens launched a Change.org petition that calls for these bars “to deal with their current signs of potential racism and de facto segregation among what should be a safe space for all.” However, after speaking with an attorney for one of the bars, the management at Woody’s is insisting that they have a diverse establishment.

The petition, in part, reads, “For too long, these bars have not provided a ‘unique nightlife experience’ to all members of the LGBTQ of Philadelphia. Whether it’s ICandy’s deliberate omission of black and Latino sounds/artists from its playlist or Woody’s racially biased bartenders and staff, it seeks to subliminally suggest that its audience is not catered to them.”

The petition goes so far as to suggest that members of the LGBTQ community “boycott” these establishments. “Our patronage should not be given to gay clubs where they love our money, but disregard our culture, spacial visibility and diversity,” the petition reads. “Having paying people of color in a room doesn’t make you grandstanding.”

There have been several individuals who signed the petition thus far, leaving comments for potential supporters. One person claimed, “I’m signing this because I have been a victim of both establishments. The point of equality is to be equal; hell, we basically pay your bills!!!”

However, I spoke with Jesse Cohen, an attorney for Woody’s, who insisted that the bar he represents “is a diverse environment.”

“We strive for it to be [diverse],” he said. “Certainly, if there are people in the community who feel like they are being treated unfairly, we would want the opportunity to speak with them to get a better understanding of what can be improved. Like any other business, we feel like if there is something we could do better, we will.”

Cohen added, “We feel that it is a diverse environment. If people feel like that is not the case, we want to meet with them.”

As of this publication, we have not received a reply from ICandy regarding our requests for comment. You can reach the entire Change.org petition here.