Censorship | News | towleroad

Coffee Bean Blocks Towleroad, Pam's House Blend for 'Sexuality'


The Advocate (via UniteTheFight reports) on censorship at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which operates hundreds of locations, mainly on the west coast:

"Phillip Minton of Unite the Fight -- a group trying to overturn California's Proposition 8 -- had booted up his laptop on Thursday at a Coffee Bean location in Los Angeles and was informed he couldn't access sites like Pam's House Blend and Towleroad due to 'sexuality.' According to commenters at Unite the Fight's website, ex-gay sites for groups like Exodus and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays are accessible on Coffee Bean's Wi-Fi service. In his post, Minton wrote, 'Naturally, I wrote a rather angry e-mail [to Coffee Bean's corporate office in Los Angeles] telling them they need to do a better job determining what is porn or 'adult' from what is a news or editorial blog. If I typed in 'heterosexual,' would the sites pulled up be blocked? I doubt it.'"

The Wi-Fi provider, OpenDNS, claimed the block comes from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and not the WiFi provider. Unfortunately, this practice is all too common. Many corporations censor LGBT websites because they are automatically deemed sexual or adult in nature.

Would love to know where else we are blocked. Let us know in the comments.

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  1. This site and others like it have been blocked in the American Airlines Admiral's Clubs at D/FW airport for years.

    It can't be an AA policy, however, because the same doesn't hold true at LaGuardia or JFK. It must be a local policy.

    Posted by: David | Jun 12, 2009 2:33:36 PM

  2. Towleroad is blocked at Drexel University's Law School (and perhaps entire campus) in Philadelphia, PA

    Posted by: Rick | Jun 12, 2009 2:34:34 PM

  3. Good to know ..another place to boycott...small coffee shops are better and i can make delicious expressos at home...F coffee bean..

    Posted by: Bosie | Jun 12, 2009 2:36:07 PM

  4. Sometimes the pictures on this site are not necessarily something I'd want in plain view of my customers in a coffeeshop if I were the owner. I don't think it's necessarily being "anti-gay" to block this site in a family establishment. Pure news sites are another matter.

    Posted by: Kevin | Jun 12, 2009 2:39:42 PM

  5. I was in LA over spring break and I went on Towleroad a million times from The Coffee Bean, so the ban is relatively new.

    Posted by: Magellan | Jun 12, 2009 2:43:32 PM

  6. Panera Bread. Had to use their wireless once and Towleroad was blocked.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 12, 2009 2:54:15 PM

  7. I would think your tag line "A site with homosexual tendencies" would be enough to get the site banned in most of the censorship minded places.

    Posted by: Keith near Dolores Park | Jun 12, 2009 2:55:08 PM

  8. KEVIN....

    Is "Advocate. com" blocked?

    Now, they have clean white picket fence pictures!

    Posted by: Godfrey | Jun 12, 2009 2:57:04 PM

  9. Good to go at Starbucks via AT&T Wi-Fi.

    (I don't think anything is blocked here. They have kicked a few people out at the store I usually go to in New Mexico for looking at porno.)

    Posted by: chad | Jun 12, 2009 2:59:15 PM

  10. Just an FYI - OpenDNS is not the Wi-Fi provider, they only provide the content filtering tool that the WiFI Provider (who in this case, is CBTL) uses.

    Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 12, 2009 2:59:39 PM

  11. This happened at my office last month. Both Towleroad and Pam's House Blend (the only two gay-related blogs by the way) were suddenly blocked and categorized as "adult theme" and "sexuality." It was weird because my office doesn't even block pornography or really anything other than some animated ads. I was feeling offended (obviously) and was annoyed that I was going to have to ask for access. We had an option on the blocked pages that allowed you to ask for the website to be reviewed. I clicked it, maybe twice, for this site and the next day the bans were lifted (on both sites). I actually don't think it was intentional. It's possible that both of these sites are somehow automatically thrown into an inappropriate category and blocked without someone checking it out first.

    Posted by: remix | Jun 12, 2009 3:04:24 PM

  12. Towleroad is blocked on the student computer kiosks at Juilliard. I don't have a laptop, so I'm not sure if Juilliard's wireless service also blocks the site on third party computers.

    Posted by: Jeremy | Jun 12, 2009 3:04:55 PM

  13. I can't access Towleroad or Adam4Adam from the wifi inside the Mormon temple in San Diego.

    Posted by: Josh | Jun 12, 2009 3:13:02 PM

  14. I was surprised to find that the flagship Whole Foods Market, in downtown Austin, TX blocks towleroad.com. Austin is a very liberal town, and WF is a progressive company, so this was surprising.

    Posted by: Shawn | Jun 12, 2009 3:13:08 PM

  15. Just watched 2Girls1Cup at Starbucks. You should be fine there.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 12, 2009 3:13:51 PM

  16. Towleroad has been blocked at Denver International Airport's free wi-fi the last few times I've been through there, although so has Boing Boing.

    Posted by: Doogie | Jun 12, 2009 3:18:19 PM

  17. Towleroad was blocked at the law firm I worked at in Vancouver, Canada for three years - - the filtering software's reason? "Intamate Apparel" - [spelling mistake included].

    Posted by: eclecticon | Jun 12, 2009 3:20:37 PM

  18. OpenDNS is just the DNS provider. The local net admin for that Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf probably uses OpenDNS and has it set to block porn and adult-themed websites, probably without a clear idea of what sorts of sites those are.

    I encourage people on here to flag OpenDNS's review of towleroad.com for review by going to http://domain.opendns.com/towleroad.com and clicking Flag. I submitted the following comment; feel free to copy and paste:

    Towleroad does not fit the definition of "Sexuality" that OpenDNS provides. It should be removed from the "sexuality" category because it doesn't provide "information, images or implications of bondage, sadism, masochism, fetish, beating, body piercing or self-mutilation."

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 12, 2009 3:24:23 PM

  19. I don't think this is necessarily anti-gay. This site does display plenty of NSFW photos (underwear models, etc.) on the front page all the time. I have a special "SFW" group of feeds in my RSS reader that I use in public places like coffee shops. Towleroad is NOT part of that list, because I don't want someone looking over my shoulder to think I'm looking at porn. At just a quick glance, that's what this site can look like sometimes. Coffee Bean might just be trying to create a kid-friendly atmosphere in their stores, without half-naked people all over people's laptop screens in plain view of everyone. I think that's fair.

    Posted by: Rich | Jun 12, 2009 3:27:15 PM

  20. Kids do love coffee with their Cheerios.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 12, 2009 3:31:22 PM

  21. @Crispy - Kids may not love coffee, but CBTL sells more than coffee. And kids' parents probably love coffee...

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 12, 2009 3:35:15 PM

  22. Towleroad was blocked at the Denver airport free wifi last time I checked (about a year ago).

    Good to go on the San Diego airport free wifi though as of last weekend.

    @Josh: Way funny about the Morman Temple in SD.

    Posted by: Rich | Jun 12, 2009 3:38:40 PM

  23. The corporation that I work at only blocks some of the ads on Towleroad. I assume that they feel the blog is fine but might have a filter for the ads since they might be "not business appropriate".

    Posted by: sittaraha1 | Jun 12, 2009 3:49:13 PM

  24. Good point, Dave. In that case, we absolutely must keep kids from seeing shirtless, muscled athletes. It might turn them gay.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 12, 2009 3:53:27 PM

  25. Oddly enough, Towleroad and Queerty are not blocked at SAIC, one of the largest government contractors, yet Pam's Houseblend, Joe My God, and Page One Q are. Strange, but this is the one that counts right?

    Posted by: Jason Knight | Jun 12, 2009 3:54:47 PM

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