Testy Tuesdays: Should Gay Strip Clubs Charge Women More?
By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
Silverado -- the Portland gay bar with the male strippers -- designates Friday and Saturday evenings "Boys' Night Out," and offers men a $2 discount on the cover (men pay $3, women pay $5). This is, in and of itself, not really news. But The Mercury recently kicked up dust around the issue, calling into question the legality of what could be construed as discrimination based on sex:
According to the Oregon Public Accommodations Act, AKA the "Equality Act," it's "illegal to discriminate in places of public accommodation on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, or age." While the occasional ladies' night at a straight bar may slip by unnoticed, demanding that women routinely pay more to get inside a gay club has begun catching some visitors' attention.
A quick survey of straight bars shows there are regular ladies' nights (in which ladies get in for free and/or get free booze) at Dirty, FX, and Aura. I'm sure there are others.Â In the comments, some point out that discounts for children and seniors could be considered age discrimination. Anyway, you look at it, it's not an isolated issue. Still, The Merc talked to a few gays who are opposed to the idea.
"As a gay man, I find it insidious and embarrassing," says attorney Lake Perriguey, known for his local work on gay rights cases and who now hopes to shame the club into changing its ways. "It's like asking blacks or Jews to pay more, really." ... "It's terrible to discriminate within our own subculture," says [Local Lounge's Randy] Faber. "Portland is such a diverse community, we have to do our best to include everyone."
What the writer didn't seem to find was any evidence that women were bothered by the policy. No complaints have been filed with the Bureau of Labor and Industry, and the one woman quoted in the article said she supports gay bars charging her more in order to create "a place for gay men to have fun and feel safe." Silverado secretary Don Sexton told The Mercury he has received complaints from women about the price disparity on Friday and Saturday nights, but that he also gets complaints from men about female patrons, particularly bachelorette parties. "I respect that it's a special night for these women, but it's not for everyone to have to put up with," Sexton says. "They're very disruptive to our male guests." So what do you think? Should Silverado be allowed to offer men a discount two nights a week? And should all bars/clubs be held to the same standard when it comes to gender-based pricing? Sound off in the comments. Erin Rook is a staff writer for PQ Monthly and has never been to Silverado or any club with a "ladies' night." Erin can be reached at email@example.com.