Bars: Our Safe Haven Could be in Jeopardy

Written by Kevin Broady

Are you hurting today – perhaps reeling from the senseless attack that took place in Orlando at the Pulse Nightclub over the weekend? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. Just tap on your Facebook feed and you’ll see countless posts from people throughout the LGBTQ rainbow expressing deep shock, sadness, and anger over the killings. Let’s be real. A rage filled, radicalized asshole, armed with an automatic assault weapon that should not have been legal to own walked into one of our bars and decided to take out as many people as he could. While we may never know his exact motivation, we can say with certainty that hate was part of the dynamic.

The Pulse massacre stings because it could have been any one of us at that nightclub, and for friends and allies of the LGBTQ community, it could have been you too. But here is why this tragedy truly hurts so much for gays. The bars have always been considered a safe haven for us. For the most part, they were places that we could go to just be ourselves without having to worry about being harassed, let alone killed. The next time you go to a bar, can you honestly say this incident won’t be on your mind? Not even just a little?

We reached out to some of our local bar owners and asked them how they felt about their security and if they were going to make any changes. Scott Laughtry, one of the owners at The Boardwalk and Beefcake’s Grill commented, “ We have always had security that monitored our parking lots and used inside when needed. However, we are changing our security drastically from our normal. We are adding an officer at the front door area that will do backpack, purse and ID checks. Then our outdoor security will be on continuous monitoring system and may be armed. We do not want to discourage anyone from coming to the bar. We just want everyone to be safe and feel secure.”

Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar posted on their Facebook Tuesday that they will be implementing the following measures: Increased presence of law-enforcement and security, no backpacks or large bags will be allowed, small personal bags and purses will be subject to security screening, additional security measures may be taken to ensure the safety of our patrons. During this difficult time for our community, we ask for your help and understanding to ensure your safety. Our prayers and thoughts are with those that have been affected by the tragedy at Pulse in Orlando.

Mark from Hunters Nightclub, “Obviously this is a concern for all the businesses on Wilton Drive, not just the bars. Yes, we have made some changes and are going to make some more changes in the near future. We have also reached out to the Wilton Manors police department for further direction.

In this time of new awareness, change, we must be willing to understand that these and other business may increase their security procedures. They are doing this for our safety. Be appreciative. But we can also help if you see something, say something. It’s NOT okay to look the other way. It’s not okay to remain silent. And it’s not okay to pretend this happened to “someone else.” One day, perhaps in our lifetimes, we will see an end to bigotry. But for that to happen, we need to come together as brothers and sisters and say – enough!

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