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L.A. Gay Bar Owner David Cooley Discusses Their New Ban on Bachelorette Parties: VIDEO

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David Cooley, the owner of popular L.A. gay bar The Abbey, joined CNN's Brooke Baldwin over the weekend to discuss his decision to ban bachelorette parties, because they are offensive to gay people who can't get married.

Baldwin asks Cooley why that wouldn't be viewed as discrimination.

Said Cooley: "It's great to see my straight women coming in and celebrating with their girlfriends...As I kept seeing this, it was hurtful to me  being gay, as well as my clientele, that we could not have that same type of a celebration."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. David Cooley is right to point out discrimination he sees.

    Posted by: Barney | May 29, 2012 8:11:00 PM


  2. @ PETERPARKER . . . By your own admission you don't hang out at The Abbey, but The Eagle or Faultline because you do not want to be "besieged by a bunch of straight bachelorettes intending to get their drunk on."

    So why do you fault the owner of The Abbey for banning said parties and taking the time to articulate the exact nature of his displeasure? Although entitled, like anyone else, to give your opinion, as one who avoids partying at the potential petting zoo that is The Abbey, what makes your opinion at all relevant?

    While it seems on the surface that your idea is a good one, allowing bachelorette parties as long as each woman donates some arbitrary figure to marriage equality/gay rights organization is tantamount to charging a cover charge to say . . . a petting zoo.

    What is the recourse for patrons who do not wish to participate in The Abbey Petting Zoo . . . go to The Eagle or Faultline? The owner of The Abbey's first obligation is to his patrons, his true patrons.

    I have been on the receiving end of these drunken bachelorette parties, and I tried to be a good sport about it; still the experience brought to mind the silly white southern woman who pinched and poked the little colored children on the street, going on and on about how cute they were, how well behaved, how clean!!

    You mentioned alienating girls who support gay equality. What about alienating patrons who do not wish to be the little colord child on the street being poked by the silly white Southern woman?

    I think that was the most irrelevant point to your argument because a woman who was a true advocate of gay rights would either agree with David Cooley's position, or think it was a big ado about nothing. A woman who had gay friends would be sensitive to her friends, and would not use them as a freak-show for her straight girl friends.

    The woman who values equality for all does not abandon their convictions, their morals because the owner of a gay bar has decided to ban bachelorette parties.

    And those who do . . ?

    Well, this would go back to what your mother said about knowing who your true friends are.

    Posted by: Ricco | May 29, 2012 8:24:55 PM


  3. Weho and The Castro have one thing in common. They are no longer gay ghettos. The straights have moved in with all of their strange customs, kids, baby joggers, tofu, and harsh breeder manners.

    I applaud this man for closing down the hetero marriage party at his gay bar. Its a gay bar....just off santa monica blvd. You girls wanna celebrate Summer's marriage to Casper? go up to Sunset....donn your bias-cut, floral print dresses and have at it.

    Throwing a bachelorette party at the abby is like holding catholic mass at a buddist temple.

    Posted by: stevenelliot | May 29, 2012 8:26:18 PM


  4. Hypocrite. So we combat ignorance with more ignorance? Doesn't make sense. This is taking the LOW road.

    We're better than this. At least, some of us are.

    Posted by: Trust | May 29, 2012 8:51:54 PM


  5. I think the marriage equality argument is a bit disingenuous. I can attend straight people's weddings and be authentically happy for them. It's just less PC to say no one wants to host bachelorette parties because they're screechy and annoying. This isn't strictly a gay bar thing. I wish I could remember which comedy club it was who had a "no bachelorette parties" rule on their website.

    Posted by: Steve | May 29, 2012 9:10:14 PM


  6. i prefer peterparker's reasoning.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | May 29, 2012 9:29:49 PM


  7. @STEVE . . . Disingenuous to you maybe.

    My whole life, when I was old enough to realize what a hypocritical nation I lived in, that women, Black Americans, and myself as a gay man, was excluded (without having to suffer and die first) from having the rights detailed in The Declaration of Independence, that not one man or one woman, even the well-intentioned ones, ever shed blood or died in battle for my freedom in this country, I refused to celebrate the 4th of July, Veterans Day, or Memorial Weekend?

    There is nothing disingenuous about refusing to celebrate discrimination and hypocrisy.

    One can wish a friend success in their relationship without attending their wedding; and given how many heterosexuals treat marriage with as much thought as asking a girl to go steady, subsequently the very poor success rates of those marriages, I think it is perfectly acceptable to celebrate that marriage say at the 25th mark, when one can see that the marriage was about their love, and not just putting on a spectacle.


    Posted by: Ricco | May 29, 2012 9:42:44 PM


  8. *Gasp* Does this mean no more Bachelor Parties at Lesbian bars?!

    Posted by: jexer | May 29, 2012 10:10:09 PM


  9. Peter Parker picked a point of perfect purpose.

    So progressive it gave me goosebumps.

    Is it just me (and it may well be) or was Mr. Cooley not as...articulate...as he--perhaps--could/should have been?

    I cringed a lil' bit.

    Someone buy Peter a drink and send the receipt, *and the idea*, to Mr. Cooley.

    Posted by: Autarchic | May 29, 2012 10:47:16 PM


  10. As a female, I am NOT offended by this decision at all. In fact, I respect and empathize with you all completely. There are so many other appropriate places for girls to hold their bachelorette parties - not at a gay bar for males. I think all gay clubs should do the same thing. Have I been to gay clubs? Yes, but only when my gay friends want me to come out on the town with them.

    Posted by: Jessica | May 29, 2012 11:36:56 PM


  11. Let me explain why peterparker's suggestion of having straight bachelorettes pay an additional fee is not only wrong, it's problematic from a business perspective.

    The first problem is that it doesn't actually absolve the proprietor of accusations of discrimination against a specific subset of clientele. It would be like saying white people have to donate more money to a black church if they want to attend, or to say to gay men who wish to attend straight bars that they have to pay an additional cover charge.

    And speaking of that, guess what--straight bars already do that to their own customers, in order to encourage a better male/female ratio. They might let girls in for free, so that it doesn't become a sausage-fest. But that's still discriminatory, if you are of the mindset that absolutely everyone under any circumstances must be treated equally and accepted equally into a private establishment.

    So many GLBTs have become far too sensitized to discrimination that they overcompensate and wring their hands over what is actually legitimate and fair. The owner of the Abbey is addressing the hypocrisy of being simultaneously marginalized by straight society and then exploited for the successful space he has created.

    The second problem with the proposal of requiring a donation is that it doesn't actually address the obnoxious behavior of the patrons in question. In fact, it may exacerbate it, by making them feel entitled to behave even more boorishly--the reasoning being that they feel they want to get their money's worth. It fails to take into consideration the fact that the gay patrons might be less inclined to attend as a result.

    The straights ghettoized us. And when they did, we created our own space, our own culture, our own way of celebrating who we are. And now they want to take that and treat it as a sideshow for their own personal amusement, because it's fashionable and trendy? F**k that. If you haven't actually *been* to the Abbey and seen the behavior of these folks (and I have), you aren't entitled to judge the owner's decision.

    Posted by: atomic | May 29, 2012 11:37:12 PM


  12. There are so many fruit flys at the Abby, it's hardly a gay bar anymore.

    Posted by: hddbdh | May 30, 2012 12:31:10 AM


  13. There are so many fruit flys at the Abby, it's hardly a gay bar anymore.

    Posted by: hddbdh | May 30, 2012 12:39:51 AM


  14. Party-Grrly-Swirly-Sanctimoniously-DissED...aGaIn.org.AbbY ....so Sad.far~~~gone...~ @ ^ * ~

    Posted by: RyeJamesReid | May 30, 2012 12:59:22 AM


  15. @atomic:
    about your first point: i don't think avoiding accusations of discrimination is the more important point (you seem to recognize this in your own post, btw); rather, i think that since those people who are celebrating their weddings at a gay establishment are pro-gay (we can assume), it makes little sense to ban their celebrating at a gay bar. alienating are allies is not what we should be doing. that being said, since many gay patrons are, understandably, offended by this, especially in states, like california, where gay people cannot marry, some compromise can perhaps be reached, and what peterparker suggested seems pretty darn good to me.

    about your second point: i am sure plenty people behave obnoxiously. some of them are gay. some of them are out on the town celebrating their friend's bachelorette party. there is a simple solution to this: bars should remove those who do behave obnoxiously. no need to put in place a blanket ban on bachelorette parties. that, my friend, would seem like a gross generalization that unfairly targets bachelorette party participants who do not behave obnoxiously.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | May 30, 2012 1:03:10 AM


  16. BRAVO . . . ATOMIC!! The most articulate, well reasoned argument posted. I chose to use the metaphor of the Southern White Woman imposing her unwanted attention and condescending attention upon the Black woman's children, but you said it plainly, and best:

    "So many GLBTs have become far too sensitized to discrimination that they overcompensate and wring their hands over what is actually legitimate and fair. The owner of the Abbey is addressing the hypocrisy of being simultaneously marginalized by straight society and then exploited for the successful space he has created."

    And that was just one small part of a post that was right on all the way through.

    Black people had gotten used to being marginalized, of having to concern themselves with what White people thought that they imposed that standard on other Blacks who were moving past that kind of concern.

    Like those Blacks, some Gays feel that they have to acommodate those who would marginalize them, then criticize others who don't, going on about taking the high road, and other nonsense.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Posted by: Ricco | May 30, 2012 1:04:48 AM


  17. @DAFTPUNKYDAVID . . . so young, so naive. Women who celebrate their bachelorette parties at a gay bar are not there because they are pro-gay . . . they are there for their own amusement. I have never seen a bachelorette party where they did not act obnoxious . . . and I have seen a lot of them, many of us have. They are drinking for gods sake! And they have a list of things they have to accomplish . . . like a scavenger hunt that "necessarily" imposes on the other patrons in the bar. There is no such thing as a bachelorette party that is not obnoxious.

    If it was one or two parties every three four months . .. maybe it could be tolerated . . . but several a week. That is a fricking invasion! I would not patronize such an establishment. You thought PETERPARKER made such a compelling argument for allowing drunk women to treat us like a freak show, but have overlooked the fact that PETERPARKER himself does not want to be subjected to such parties, and for that reason he does not go to The Abbey.

    Since you feel so strongly abpout what PETERPARKER says you have two choices: be a hypocrite, berate the owner of The Abbey for creating an environment that is more acommodating to the gay patrons than the straight, drunken bachelorette partiers, then go to another bar entirely . . . OR . . . you can open your own bar in West Hollywood and even cater to bachelorette parties.

    You can call it: The Gay Bachelorette.

    I doubt you would get many bachelorette parties there because one thing is certain, the gays would not show up, not even the ones who are objecting to David Cooley's no-bachelorette party policy.

    Posted by: Ricco | May 30, 2012 1:35:25 AM


  18. @ricco: young? relatively...naïve? perhaps... in my opinion you sometimes need a healthy dose of both to change things for the better.

    as for the points you make: "Women who celebrate their bachelorette parties at a gay bar are not there because they are pro-gay . . . they are there for their own amusement." well, as an lgbt person, i do not go to gay bars **because** i'm pro-gay either; i usually go because i want to have a good time; have a couple of drinks; celebrate a birthday; maybe meet a cute boy. i do happen to be pro-gay, but it would be disingenuous to say that that is why i go to a gay bar. so it's really not the point. and it wasn't the point of what i said either. i never denied that those women go to gay bars for their own amusement. that is as true of them as it is of me, isn't it? so yes, i maintain my point that preventing people who are inclined to support us from celebrating a bachelorette party may be counterproductive.

    in the rest of your post, you tell of anecdotes (fine, i can't argue with that) and/or use a tone that does not lend itself well to dialogue, in addition to overly simplifying my argumentation, and erasing the nuances i was trying to draw. so i'm not quite sure how to respond, other than by asking you to re-read what i wrote.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | May 30, 2012 2:32:03 AM


  19. It is discrimination pure and simple. Spin it any way you want. If I was a straight person, I would stop going to his club and encourage my friends to do likewise.

    Posted by: andrew | May 30, 2012 2:53:22 AM


  20. Yeah! I'm glad the owner of The Abbey is putting a stop to bachelorette parties. Wow, he gets about 10 a week! Now that explains the obnoxious behavior of so many of the patrons who have attended with the bride to be in those parties. I'm glad he's taking a political stand because until gay marriage is allowed, there is no need to be throwing at our faces their marriages along with their drunken MESSY behavior at a gay bar.

    The real question is WHY would a straight woman want her bachelorette party at a gay bar? If I were a straight woman, I would want my last hurrah with some hunky straight men that I can touch before I get married.

    Perhaps now the bar will go back to being a real GAY BAR with some straight people attending and respecting. It might even bring back the MANY gays like myself who left after it went from gay to "mixed" to many times more straight. Don't the straights have enough straight bars to attend?? Geez!

    Posted by: FunMe | May 30, 2012 3:14:46 AM


  21. @daftpunkydavid:

    You've entirely misunderstood the argument I made, which is that if you view the owner of the Abbey's ban on bachelorette parties as being discriminatory, then you must also regard the way bars hold "Girls Only" nights and "girls get in free" nights as equally discriminatory. If you're a straight female and you want to go to the Abbey, you can still go--you just can't go in a group and flaunt your marriage celebration in front of the gay clientele who cannot get married and who view such overt displays as a slap in the face.

    And BELIEVE ME, it IS a slap in the face, no matter how much you want to think of these people as being "allies." If that's what it means to be an ally, then I dare say you have set a very low bar for friendship. I have witnessed in person the exact behavior the bar owner has spoken against. When you gather a group of drunk straight women celebrating an upcoming marriage into a gay bar frequented by lots of attractive men, that is a recipe for disrespect.

    The other case with the bar in Denmark (if I recall correctly) was handled differently, and that crossed the line--I would (and did) recommend a case-by-case approach. However, I find that the case here is different and the Abbey's owner is justified, because he is not banning straight women--he is banning a particular activity in his bar that has grown to be a nuisance.

    Again, GLBTs have become paranoid about appearing hypocritical. While it's understandable that we try to be inclusive, that doesn't mean we have to permit anyone and anything at any time. If you want to show up at Disneyland wearing a thong, see how far that gets you. Do we then accuse Disney of discriminating against those who wish to dress as such? If someone wants to go to a gay bar and distribute anti-gay literature, do you think the bar owner is being discriminatory by kicking them out?

    In the meantime, I keep seeing straight people--especially in LA--treat us gays as some kind of novelty. It's an attitude that is reinforced by the various media stereotypes of us as the trendy/fierce sidekick. It's incredibly tiresome--to the point that if I am reluctant to come out to someone, it's more often because I think I'll come to be regarded as their "f*g to their hag," not because I think they'll disapprove. Equality means that we aren't turned into caricatures, even if those caricatures are well-liked.

    Posted by: atomic | May 30, 2012 3:28:46 AM


  22. Let me correct a misunderstanding brought about by what I thought was a clever turn of phrase in my first post: avoiding bachelorette parties is not the number one reason I prefer other bars to The Abbey.

    I hate The Abbey for about a gazillion reasons, from the overly primped and coiffed clientele to the fact that 99% of the bartenders there are straight to the silly bathroom attendant who tries to ply with you with stinky cologne and breath mints (ewwww...dude, those breath mints have been hanging out all night IN A PUBLIC TOILET!) to the outrageously priced drinks to the bad music and on and on and on... The fact that bachelorette parties avoid the bars where I hang out is just a happy coincidence.

    But I do see how bachelorette parties could be offensive and annoying on many levels. That is why I came up with the idea of charging them to celebrate at our establishments. The fee discourages the less respectful of them from entering out spaces/establishments while avoiding accusations that the gay community is discriminating against the straight community with an outright ban. At the same time, it leaves the door open for interaction/consciousness raising/dialogue with the type of woman who wouldn't mind donating $2000-$3000 toward a marriage equality organization--in other words, the type of women who are already on our side and are thus far more likely to be respectful and sensitive. It gives the opportunity to let them know we are happy to support their relationships and expect the same in return.

    As I said at the end of my previous post: Win-win.

    Posted by: peterparker | May 30, 2012 5:39:00 AM


  23. @PUNKYDAVID . . .

    I suppose you think there is a counter-point to my point that women do not hold their bachelorette parties at the gay bar because they are pro-gay, which I made as a challenge to the assertion that women who hold their parties at gay bars do so because they are pro-gay, buttressed in the midst of that tortured logic the obvious: "well, as an lgbt person, i do not go to gay bars **because** i'm pro-gay either; i usually go because i want to have a good time; have a couple of drinks; celebrate a birthday; maybe meet a cute boy."

    So your point is that as a gay man you do what all gay men do when they go to a bar, have fun, gawk at and meet cute men, and celebrate special events, one of the few places in a society where many still wish us dead, where we are attacked, even when we come out of our special places, and you seriously are going to equate "OUR" purpose for going to a gay bar with the purpose of drunken bachelorette partiers?

    I think my tone lends itself perfectly to this dialogue, as it implies a tone of exasperation with someone that insists that straight women turning a gay bar into their own little playground, its patrons their own little playthings is as legitimate a reason to go to the gay bar as the gay men and women who go there because it is one of the few places they can go and be themselves 100% .

    I did not oversimplify your argument. You oversimplified my argument, and ATOMICS argument. It was you who over simplified our arguments, never addressing my challenge why you were so enamored of PETERPARKER's hypocritical suggestion, seeing that he avoids places like The Abbey because he does not want to deal with these women . . . yet expects a David Cooley to not act in the best interest of his true patrons, his business, and his personal beliefs.

    You never addressed any of that, and yet you accuse me of oversimplifying a one dimensional argument?

    But most of all you failed to appreciate the extent of David Cooley's position. It is one thing to disagree with his position that it is the height of insensitivity for these obnoxious women to celebrate their upcoming marriages when the owner of the establishment where they are holding their celebrations (as well as his patrons) is himself prohibited from getting married married . . . but to expect him to sacrifice the well being of his business by allowing these women to impose their drunken good times on the good times of the legitimate patrons of that bar is not only simple, but ridiculous.



    Posted by: Ricco | May 30, 2012 5:54:26 AM


  24. Some years ago Copenhagens most beloved gay nightclub faced this same problem; Straight female bachelorette parties. It was all good fun in the beginning, but then it became a trend. And it actually became utterly annoying. But the worst was yet to come; straight males getting the sniff of drunk females, with little or no competition. Then more straight males followed. What was once an awesome venue, actually open to everyone with an open mind, became a hostile place for gays indeed. A few violent attacks on "icky gays" kissing by some of these neanderthal men, and Copenhagens most beloved gay nightclub was history. It litterally went from having 50-100 people waiting to get in constantly, to closing in a matter of months.

    This may not be the same issue this particular club is facing, but let me tell you, going to a gay club becomes less attractive when you're forced to attend 2-3-4 drunken bachelorette parties by doing so. It pretty much stops the juice flowing...

    Posted by: DeeperStill | May 30, 2012 7:13:19 AM


  25. @ atomic; but see, that's the problem... i do NOT see the owner's position as discriminatory. the concerns you raise are perfectly legitimate, and i suggested as much in my post. it takes some amount of oversimplification to believe this is rote discrimination; on the other hand, i do believe, this may be counterproductive, for the reasons i laid down before.

    therefore, i believe that as a compromise, to reconcile the principled stand of the bar owner, and the unfortunate possible downside of that stand relative to probable or potential allies to our cause (not "are" as i wrote earlier in tired stupor), peterparker's proposal is sensible.

    p.s.: you also wrote: "...you must also regard the way bars hold "Girls Only" nights and "girls get in free" nights as equally discriminatory". i am not sure about the "equally" part, but yes, to me this is in fact discrimination. (though, again, i reject the premise upon which you draw the comparison).

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | May 30, 2012 9:19:21 AM


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