When a gay store’s liquidation was triggered by a homophobic employee
Posted On August 5, 2021
After a gay-friendly department store liquidated its gay-owned stores, the owner was forced to confront the underlying issues.
When the store closed in late April, it was the largest in a series of stores in the nation to be shut down by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
It followed the same pattern in a handful of other cities.
After the first stores closed, some retailers took to social media to criticize the decision.
In New York City, two men who were arrested for hate crimes at the store wrote that they hoped the stores were never reopened.
The men said that the employees had discriminated against the LGBT community by refusing to hire them.
“I’m not saying we’re right or wrong, I’m just saying this is wrong,” one of the men wrote on Twitter.
“They were discriminated against because they were gay, and we were wrong for not accepting them.”
But in other cities, stores reopened, some in the midst of a spike in anti-LGBT hate crimes.
A few weeks after the liquidation, the Los Angeles Times reported that two gay men had been arrested in connection with anti-gay hate crimes, and the stores’ owners, a lesbian couple and a man, had resigned.
In response, the gay-rights group Equality California, launched a boycott of the department store chain.
The group said it would not renew the franchise until the owners would take immediate action to eliminate the discrimination.
But the boycotts didn’t stop.
Days later, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the trade association representing major retailers, issued a statement condemning the company for what it called “a misguided decision” to close the stores.
It called the closings “a disturbing and dangerous step backward for the progress of equality in the workplace and for the LGBTQ community as a whole.”
In addition to the boycotting of stores, many businesses have moved to remove LGBT-inclusive language from their employee handbooks, which were published in June and July.
The American Association of Retired Persons, a trade group for older people, has also endorsed the decision to close down gay-oriented stores.
“The actions of this company, and those of other business leaders, should send a clear message that businesses must continue to actively address the needs of their customers in order to ensure their continued viability,” AARP said in a statement.
“The continued closure of businesses that serve the needs and needs of customers should be the ultimate marker of failure for the LGBT and progressive communities.”