A karaoke bar that operates in a space that was formerly a gay bar feels the need to to proclaim that "we are not a gay bar."

Read the story on chicagotribune.com.

If only the owner had a basic understanding of PR, they could have avoided the protests and backlash and terrible coverage of them in a widely read newspaper. Like, when you open a bar on the site of a gay bar, and you are trying to operate a business that is different, perhaps you should give the bar a new name. Just a thought. Also, it's a bad idea to offend people that frequent your bar, and I'm no lawyer, but it's probably a bad idea to display a message that can and should be taken as discriminatory.

I'd like to give the owner the benefit of the doubt and say that while he is an idiot, I'm hoping that his goal was to inform patrons that in fact the style of the bar had changed. This could have been handled with far more tact, perhaps proclaiming "This is a karaoke bar. Everyone welcome." Or maybe changing the name of the bar to indicate that things have changed.

But unfortunately, I had to click on the "comments" left to the article. I don't know why I do this. I've read enough comments left on articles on the Trib's web site to know how ignorant and illogical most of the commenters are, protected by their anonymity.

Ridiculous things that stood out to me:

1. There is a difference between freedom of speech and discrimination. Also, a bar is in fact a public establishment and therefore cannot discriminate. Now, they didn't post "Gays Not Allowed" but "We Are Not a Gay Bar" comes across as pretty hostile and anyone with any amount of common sense should realize there is a better way to communicate that the style of your bar has changed since the last owners.

2. Just because you think something is immoral doesn't automatically mean everyone will agree with you. Last time I checked this country was founded on freedom of religion, including absence of religion.

3. Just because a gay bar in Chicago posted a sign that says "Bachelorette Parties not allowed" doesn't mean they are discriminating against straight women.

4. If you can choose to be gay, when did all the heteros choose to be straight? I don't remember ever making the conscious decision that I would like to date men instead of women. Yes, technically I could date women if I wanted to, but I don't remember ever choosing not to be romantically/sexually attracted to them.

5. NOT EVERYONE BELIEVES IN THE SAME RELIGIOUS DEITY AS YOU DO. Get over it. I can't stress that enough because apparently enough people don't get it.

6. If someone posted "This is not a Black bar" or "This is not a Women's Bar", would that be OK?

7. "Protected groups" is not like "endangered species." Seriously, what is the average IQ of people that comment on articles on chicagotribune.com? Protected groups is an actual term! And yes, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. How is it possible to not know that?? These people read news sites, you would think they have a basic understanding of basic laws.

In the end, the commenters remind me that while I may live in my own little liberal bubble, there are crazies out there with crazy views that I just can't wrap my mind around, and they are scary. At this point, it doesn't even matter if the Tribune article didn't state all the facts the way they happened, it brought out the crazy religious homophobes and straight guys who assume all gay men secretly want to sleep with them, and gave my liberal self a scary conservative reality check.

Meanwhile, my friend who has lived in Peoria shared with me that this bar is a pretty divey bar and probably wouldn't stay in business very long anyway. At this point, who knows if anyone, gay or straight, would go there. Maybe the conservative "gays are bad" commenters will go there, just once, to make a point.

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