Watch: Providence Gay Bar Claims That Buttigieg's People Canceled Event Due to 'Dancer Pole'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 21, 2020

A gay bar in Providence, RI, says that staffers for the Buttigieg campaign relocated an event that had originally been slated to take place there, and says that the reason for the switch was a "dancer pole" that is part of the venue.

Local news source WPRI reports that although Pete Buttigieg was not scheduled to appear at the Jan. 17 event, his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, was to have headlined. The event, a fundraiser for the Buttigieg presidential campaign, was relocated to a nearby hotel by "campaign staff who arrived ahead of the event," the news channel reported.

The news report said that, according to the bar, the event was pulled "after [the bar] refused to remove a dancer pole."

"They came in and asked us to remove the dancer pole," Buck Asprinio, owner of gay bar The Dark Lady, said on the news report, adding that the pole had "been here since we opened, and it's not going anywhere."

A press release expanded on the bar's claims, saying that the event had been moved to an "upscale" hotel and claiming that Buttigieg's staff "lied" about the reasons behind the last-minute change of venue.

The release said that staffers claimed "space constraints" were the reason for the change. "The Dark Lady has a rated capacity of 198, and the event had only several dozen attendees," the release stated.

The news release went on to say:

Staff arrived four hours early to prepare for the event; the cancellation 12 minutes before the expected start time cost the bar an estimated $1000 and workers did not receive tips.

Adding insult to injury, Buttigieg campaign personnel stood outside The Dark Lady and redirected attendees to the 4-star Hotel Providence, and removed all mentions of the event online, as if it never happened.

The bar also took to Facebook, posting at its page that:

Pete Buttigieg's husband just canceled his appearance/fundraiser tonight at the Dark Lady because the "gay bar has a dancer pole!"

The Facebook post went on to say:

We guess this is what the gay candidate does to the gay community! ...
We're open, we're here, we're queer, get over it!

Comments below the post ranged from supporting Buttigieg to slamming the candidate.

One comment posited that "our country needs Mayor Pete and the general public are ready to attack (much like the people on this page) so they have to look out for anything that could be twisted around and used against this great man."

Another suggested "the press would have had a field day with pictures and such. So I get it and we know how the right media would make a mountain out of it."

Another quipped: "It's not about the community, it's just about validating people who think the community is perverted, which is obviously no reflection on the community itself. Sort of like how throwing someone under the bus isn't assault because it's the bus that hits them."

The release quoted Asprinio as saying, "It's just wrong. Here in Rhode Island, we don't pretend to be someone we're not. I was undecided on which candidate to support before, but I think this answers the question."

The Buttigieg campaign responded to the controversy, supplying local NBC affiliate Channel 10 with this comment:

"Unfortunately we had to relocate this evening's event. We are grateful to the enthusiastic and dedicated supporters that joined us tonight in Providence."

The Buttigieg campaign did not address the claim that the change was due to the presence of a dancer pole, but also did not offer an alternative explanation.

Watch the WPRI news report below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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