Change of Heart Bears Fruit for Once-Biased Scottsdale Bar Owners


Last December I posted about Scottsdale bar owner Tom Anderson’s decision to convert his bar Anderson’s Fifth Estate to a bar that serves the gay community after making headlines in 2006 when he banned a transgender woman following complaints she was using the women’s bathroom.

ScottsdaleIn December, Anderson said he had decided he wanted to “change Scottsdale” after a number of high-profile anti-gay hate incidents there. He also saw a need in the nightlife community for a new gay venue.

Anderson’s decision seems to have paid off. The club, which now has lines it never saw before, was lauded in the Arizona Republic over the weekend, and tells the story of Anderson’s transformation after the unfortunate 2006 incident:

“For more than a year afterward, Anderson was the subject of dozens of newspaper and television stories pitting him against the GLBT community and its allies. He became known as the club owner who kicked out a transgendered woman. This happened as people were questioning whether Scottsdale was becoming hostile toward the GLBT community, after a gay couple was assaulted outside a restaurant and after Mayor Mary Manross refused to observe GLBT month in June, instead, proclaiming it to be Human Relations Diversity Observance month. Anderson, who owns the club with his wife, Roberta, resolved the dispute in November 2007 by building a gender-neutral restroom. Anderson said that during the controversy over the discrimination complaint he met with members of the GLBT community. One of the things he learned was how underserved the community was in Scottsdale, with only one bar, BS West, in the area. Anderson said he saw both a business opportunity and a chance to be part of a community he’d come to know and enjoy. The Andersons reopened the club as Forbidden in December, a month after the resolution. The 5,500-square foot club can hold 325 people and is open five days a week, up from three when it was Anderson’s Fifth Estate. Now, more than 700 people come through on Fridays and Saturdays each, more than double what Fridays used to draw.”

Uproar turns straight bar into gay hot spot [arizona republic]