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Lesbian Luau Canceled Because of Online Protests Over Racism

Community members cite cultural appropriation, photo of Confederate flag

A scheduled “Lesbian Luau” at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard gay bar Local Lounge was canceled after online protests. 

The bar initially came under fire from the activist community, says co-owner Harry Jarvis, after inadvertently posting an image containing Confederate flags to promote the Aug. 14 event. Jarvis says no one had seen the flags in the background. “Honestly, when we put the picture out there, what we intended to promote was the gay flag,” says Jarvis. “No one had seen the Confederate flag behind it, and would have never promoted a Confederate flag. We’re an all inclusive, gay-owned business, not racist.” 

One bar supporter quickly photoshopped a Union Jack and a rainbow flag over the Confederate flags and reposted the image to promote the event. 

Local activists also distributed an online flyer titled “Not in Our Communities” protesting the event’s cultural appropriation of Polynesian culture. A consortium of “queers, people of color and white accomplices” asked that members of the community not attend the luau because of “silencing and ignoring community concern,” cultural appropriation, and the fact community members did not feel it was a genuine lesbian party. 

One of “many” admins of the Local Lounge Facebook account argued with commenters over whether the event was racist. 

Online commenters attempted to start a review campaign branding the bar as racist.

In the end, Jarvis made the decision to stop the event. Almost all posts related to the night have since been deleted from Local Lounge's Facebook page. â€œPeople reacted emotionally, and I shut it down,” says Jarvis. “We canceled the luau, and we had live music and happy hour.”