The world Lena Dunham showcases on Girls may seem like a bastion of liberal politics, but many in the neighborhood aren’t too happy about Greenpoint’s increasing gay population. Thankfully, there haven’t been any reports of anti-gay attacks recently, but we’re disturbed by the double-standard imposed on local businesses that have a gay clientele. The latest case in point is Lulu’s — a struggling bar on Franklin Street that wants to “come out” but is prohibited by its lease to operate as a a gay/lesbian club:
Owner John McGillion wants to take advantage of changing demographics in the neighborhood and turn it into a gay and lesbian bar. The only problem? His landlord specifically wrote in his lease that he can’t do that.
According to the clause in his lease: “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.”
“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,” McGillon wrote in the lawsuit he filed against his landlord, Guard General Merchandise Corp., last week. He told the Post he’s been battling with the landlord for the last year to make the change to no avail.
Just a few store fronts away, Veronica’s People’s Club, a popular (and really rather mellow) gay club, was forced to shutdown in 2012 by the local community board. It wasn’t the first. Blackout, a gay club on Manhattan Ave. closed in 2011 in part because of complaints from its neighbors. City Room has more on the Veronica’s closure:
In Veronica’s case, the owners of the building next door charged in a lawsuit filed in December that “unreasonably loud music and noises of all sorts are emitted” from the bar at all hours and that the music sent vibrations through their apartment, causing them “to become nervous, anxious and agitated.”
Next Magazine spoke with promoter Kelly Gorman last year who ran a party at Veronica’s called Kielbasa:
Promoter Kelly Gorman… recently had to shutter his popular Friday night party Kielbasa after host venue Veronica Peoples Club closed as a bar following pressure from the local community board, substantial fines and personal lawsuits…
Still Veronica Peoples Club—and what it may mean for other Brooklyn gay bars—was on everyone’s mind. “There were always issues with noise [at Veronica’s People’s Club] but it wasn’t until the bar went officially gay that the police showed up constantly,” says Gorman, who is quick to draw parallels to Greenpoint’s first gay-friendly bar, Blackout, which faced a similar demise. “It’d be great to expand outside of Williamsburg [and into Greenpoint]. I recall when I worked at Blackout Bar with Gio Black Peter and his party [Super Bisexuals],” he explained, “I’m not sure if it was the conservative attitude of the old Polish neighborhoods or just the fact that on an ‘official’ gay night everyone rolled on the pavement outside the venue is what got us closed down. I could only imagine that cop thinking ‘I don’t know what’s going on here but we’ll be back next week.’”
Meanwhile, film sets are staging large-scale explosions and “straight” clubs like Coco 66, The Pencil Factory Saint Vitus, and Black Rabbit are not experiencing the same (if any) scrutiny. Having witnessed a police raid at Veronica’s on a night where about 20 people were in attendance — the music was quiet and everybody was well-behaved — we can attest to the double-standard.