June 25, 2017

Gay Bar in Vermont Changes Name and Apologizes


        Lucy Bell LeMay attends the opening night of Mister
  
 
A post to Mister Sister's Facebook page said: "Sadly, we've had donations rejected from Pride Center of Vermont and Vermont People With AIDS Coalition due to our name." On May 10, owner Craig McGaughan said he had not donated to the Pride Center since controversy over the bar's name erupted and was referring to advocacy group's March 3 statement that they would reject donations from any place with hate speech as its name. 

The owner of a gay bar in Vermont has abandoned the name Mister Sister and is seeking forgiveness after three months of bitter controversy.
The new name of the Winooski area's only gay bar, which opened in March, will be The Bridge Club.
"I hope everyone finds the humor in going to 'The Bridge Club' to party, sees the nod to the historic Winooski Bridge and recognizes the camaraderie and necessity in building bridges," owner Craig McGaughan wrote on Facebook.
"My wish is that we can all forgive and move forward," McGaughan continued. "Nothing good came from the fighting. No one won here."
The name Mister Sister, which McGaughan initially described as inclusive, sparked controversy because some people viewed the term as a slur against transgender people. 
McGaughan changed his mind, according to a post on The Bridge Club page, after a transgender woman wrote a "kind letter" showing that people who claimed to support Mister Sister were "using public forums to create hate toward the trans community."
"I am a trans ally and when faced with the fact that this issue has created a platform for trans people to be blatantly abused, I had to act," McGaughan wrote.
"I realize now that I mistakenly listened to the fight rather than the pain," McGaughan added.
The Pride Center of Vermont asked McGaughan to change the name before the bar opened in March and pledged to refuse any donations that came from the bar.
McGaughan informed the Pride Center this week about his decision.
"The board is happy that Craig is changing the name of the bar and is open to meeting with Craig to continue the discussion," the Pride Center board of directors said in a statement shared by Executive Director Susan Hartman.
The new name also garnered many positive comments on the bar's Facebook page.
McGaughan declined to speak to the Burlington Free Press about when the name change would take place.
The change comes as the bar is also raising money online to keep its doors open. McGaughan has set a goal of raising $100,000 to pay bills and support operations.
"I've exhausted all of my business and personal resources, borrowed from family and friends and there's no longer any working capital or any sort of reserve to pull from," he wrote on a fundraising page created this month. 
USA TODAY NETWORKApril McCullum, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

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