Our letter to FornabaioVoss:
Dear Tony Fornabaio and Brandon Voss:
Over the past year, the Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) has documented several cases of discrimination against gay Asian and Pacific Islander men by your door staff at the Friday night party Rockit at Quo and at its previous location Amalia.
These cases demonstrate a racially discriminatory pattern in which gay Asian men were systemically denied entry to Rockit. There are cases in which gay Asian men were barred from entering the club seemingly on the basis of attire or presentation while similarly dressed or presenting non-Asian men were let in. There are also several cases in which gay Asian men were barred from entering because they were not on a guest list while other non-Asian men were allowed in without question. In all cases when groups of gay Asian men arrived at the club, all were denied entry at the door.
We are writing to call your attention to these incidents and to solicit your response including a statement that condemns these racially discriminatory incidents and ensures that these incidents will not happen again. If we do not receive a response within the month of October, we will assume that you condone these racially discriminatory incidents and we will be forced to take further action.
Discrimination based on race is not good for any business. In fact, there are federal, state and municipal civil rights laws prohibiting this very behavior. We hope that you are familiar with these laws.
And lastly, at a time in which many gay youth are being told that their lives will get better, it’s incumbent upon all of us to fully fulfill that promise of a better life and that means ending racial division and discrimination in the gay community.
Thank you for your time and immediate attention to this issue. We look forward to your response.
See response below:
From: Brandon Voss
Date: October 27, 2010 7:54:10 PM EDT
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: For immediate attention: Tony Fornabaio and Brandon Voss
My apologies for the delayed response. We have been traveling and very busy with Halloween preparations. I received both your email and letter in the mail. We do not condone discriminatory behavior at any of our events and all employees are well aware of this policy. Many patrons (especially those in large groups), regardless of their race, are often turned away at Rockit because of capacity issues. We have a legal capacity of 400 people at Quo, less when the party was held at Rockit. Yet on an average night over 1000 people will show up to the party. We are simply unable to accommodate that many people. The New York Fire Department monitors our capacity and has on occasion forced us to close our doors for being too far over legal capacity. It is illegal and the fire department will shut us down if we grant entry to every person who arrives at the club. Therefore on a busy night, the doorman will let patrons he knows in or consult a list to ensure our best patrons, personal friends and those who specifically RSVP’d to the event are admitted into the club. If a large group of patrons are unknown to the doorman at a busy time, they will often be turned away. If they are dressed improperly, they may be turned away. When we reach capacity there are several factors used to determined who comes in and who doesn’t but race is not one of them. If the doorman doesn’t know them, it doesn’t mean he is discriminating, it simply means he doesn’t know them.
I will again speak to the staff, but I would also advise those making these allegations to not come in large groups and come before peak hour. Please let me know if you have further questions or concerns.
Best Regards, Brandon
Regardless of how you feel about this response, we must still hold Rock It accountable to their claim that racial discrimination did not and does not happen at Rock It.
If you arrive before “peak” hours and are turned away, DOCUMENT IT.
If you are turned away b/c of fire codes, DOCUMENT how many other folks are let in after you.
If you are turned away b/c of dress, DOCUMENT those folks who are let in that are similarly
We will be following-up with FornabaioVoss about these claims and ask for clarifications, specifically around “several factors” and RSVPing.