Activists Call for Boycott of Woody’s and ICandy Over Alleged Racism

Protesters say the Gayborhood clubs have dress codes that discriminate against people of color.

Protesters outside of Woody's on September 23rd.

Protesters stand outside of Woody’s on September 23rd. | Photo by Ernest Owens

On Friday, the Black and Brown Workers Collective, an LGBTQ/racial justice activist group, organized a public demonstration outside of City Hall, ICandy and Woody’s. Roughly two dozen activists protested perceived racism at Gayborhood bars and what they say is inaction by the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs over the issue.

Around 3 p.m., protesters gathered at the front of City Hall on the Dilworth Park side and BBWC member Abdul-Aliy Muhammad read the group’s list of demands for the Office of LGBT Affairs. Shani Akilah, another BBWC member, went inside City Hall to deliver a physical copy of the demands to Nellie Fitzpatrick, the office’s director. “We were told Nellie was not at her office by a secretary and that they would be sure to give her the document when she returned,” Akilah said. “We had already e-mailed her a copy with a statement and have yet to hear back from her.”

At the time, Fitzpatrick was at the Philly Bi Visibility Day Rally (which the Office of LGBT Affairs co-sponsored). That rally was across the street from the BBWC’s demonstration. The Office of LGBT Affairs has not yet responded to a request for comment.

By 4:20 p.m. Friday, the BBWC’s demonstration continued at the front of ICandy on 12th Street, where protesters criticized the LGBTQ nightclub for its alleged “no Timberland boots” policy and talked about the effects of racial profiling on communities of color. (After several patrons said they were barred from the club earlier this year because they we wearing Timberlands, ICandy claimed that it allows people with Timbs to come to the club, as long as they’re not “worn” or “dirty.”)

Activists wrote messages in chalk on the sidewalk and left behind several pairs of Timberland boots on the doormat and tied to the door. Attempts to reach ICandy were unsuccessful, and the club has not issued a public response on the matter.

G Philly was on location to film moments from that demonstration:

At 4:35 p.m., the demonstration made its final stop outside of Woody’s on 13th Street, where protesters called out the popular bar for its perceived “covert racism” and alleged ban on sportswear attire. Bouncers and other employees were noticeably inside the bar during the protests, with some looking out the windows and others stepping outside to see what was going on. During this time, protesters called for the boycott of Woody’s and ICandy. Attempts to reach Woody’s were also unsuccessful, and the business has not issued a statement on the issue.

BBWC sent G Philly the following statement about the protest:

“As the Black and Brown Workers Collective, we believe that it is paramount that the voices at the table truly reflect who is most impacted by racism in the Gayborhood. Our list of demands make clear that LGBTQ youth of color, homeless LGBTQ youth and Black and Brown trans women need to be central to these conversations.

Secondly, demanding that black and brown labor be compensated for advising a white power structure on how to eliminate racism from the gayborhood is perfectly logical when you consider that we are being asked to provide labor, time and energy to the same system that is a part of maintaining such oppressive systems.

Finally, we are not positioning our selves as at odds with Philly Black Pride. What we are saying is that we are not obligated to convince other folks that other poc lgbtq voices matter. We are here to remind people that somethings are being left out of a very public dialogue on racism in the gayborhood that are key components to eliminating this system of oppression. If you perceive that there is discordance here, it is because this is not a comfortable reality or conversation. Racism in the gayborhood is not comfortable for those of us experiencing it. We will not perform for the gaze of white supremacy. We are tired of being targeted by this system. We are tired of playing by the rules of a system that literally profits off of our deaths.”

The time for slow and steady polite conversation is finished. It’s movement time.

For more video coverage of the protest, check out G Philly’s Facebook page. We will provide updates as this story develops.