The staff of the Lovecraft Bar announced late Monday evening that owner Jon Horrid has agreed to step down and sell the business amid anonymous allegations that he sexually assaulted women who visited the bar.
Lovecraft is Portland's best known goth nightclub and frequently holds LGBTQ-centered events. It opened on Jan. 1, 2011.
Last week, anonymous allegations surfaced on social media accusing Horrid of assaulting multiple women over the last seven years. The allegations included no names or evidence, and their veracity was challenged by bar patrons and staff.
Yet the allegations prompted many patrons to declare on social media that they were going to boycott the establishment.
The staff said in a statement issued on Facebook that Horrid agreed to sell the business to current manager, Brooke Moreno.
"We realize it has been a difficult time for our supporters because the allegations against the previous owner carry such a significant weight," the staff said in the statement. "The employees at the Lovecraft take any allegations of sexual assault and rape very seriously and every one of us is positioned as allies to survivors of rape and sexual assault."
Horrid denies the allegations.
"I'm not a Hitler-Weinstein," Horrid tells WW. "The trolls have won. Now they can move on to hating someone else."
He says he stepped away from the business to protect his staff who had been receiving threats in the wake of the social media blitz.
"I'm bummed, of course I'm bummed," he says, "But this was the only way to protect my staffers who have been threatened with physical violence."
The Lovecraft staff also responded to allegations made earlier this year that the bar harbored white supremacists and reflected racist views held by the business's namesake, H.P. Lovecraft, a science fiction novelist who published most of his work in the 1920s and 1930s.
"HP Lovecraft died in 1937," the staff said in the statement. "In his youth at the turn of the century, within the context and confines of history he had some racist sentiments and ideas. We do not judge the entirety of someone's body of work throughout their life on one unfavorable period of time."
The statement also affirmed the bar's commitment to a policy of zero-tolerance for hate speech.
"People of all race, ethnicity, religion, and gender are welcome to come and dance," the statement says. "We would prefer the ignorant and racist stay at home."
Horrid says he will be moving away from Portland because of the controversy.
"I'm not a martyr," he says. "I'm not a victim but I've been a target. I'm going somewhere more open minded. I never thought I'd say that about Portland. I've been here 15 years—it's been good to me, but it's not my city anymore."
Horrid also issued a statement. Here it is, in full:
First off, I'd like to thank everyone who has defended and supported us during this time of social media crisis.
For years now, I've been struggling with attacks by internet trolls. Every 6 weeks, a rash of attacks gets thrown out there, slowly gaining momentum. Even though I myself am not on social media sites (hence, not responding to your call out), with minimal research, we've determined these groups are made up of real but also fake accounts, allowing persons to remain anonymous in their attacks and have a broader reach spreading their lies and misinformation. We have determined that the originators of these lies are from gay bashers, poser punks, Nazis, facists, sexual offenders, ex employees and people who simply want attention. In an effort to undermine the gay scene, instilling the staff and clientele with fear but without directly attacking them, trolls have attacked us with lies about Nazism, racism, rape, and animal sacrifice. Fear is a weapon, so the gay promoters have quit. We already miss them.
Accused also of "siphoning income from gay culture", I'm making it clear that I was approached to host these events, and instead of the siphoning, by giving the promoters 100% of the door, I was losing money. I did it so performers could earn what they deserved.
Also believing in these lies is an angry mob of our fellow liberals, lashing out, reflecting the anger and fear from our current government's administration and sex scandals of rich, Hollywood perverts. Death threats to my staff and our friends have been made, based on lies. If one hundred people spread and/or believe a lie, sheer numbers does not transform that lie into a truth.
As a society, we have already been through this in the 1950s with McCarthy's Red Scare; neighbors and rivals falsely accusing each other of "being a commie" to the government, outing people to ruin lives and careers and promote alienation.
Accusations of rape have outnumbered how many people I have actually had sex with. However, any Survivor/Victim who feels that I have wronged them, I deeply apologize to.
I love my bar. I built it myself, from the ground up, with no savings. I'm not rich and I'm not a fighter but I am stubborn. But I'm not stubborn enough to have foolish pride and jeopardize good people. So in order to protect my staff, I quit. And I am moving.
The liars and trolls have won, yet again. Their hatred of freedom and art and music plus their addiction to false popularity has driven them to emulate the very facists they despise. Good luck with them, when they turn their hate on you.
Sincerely, Jon Horrid