We believe All Black Lives Matter. We know our first Gay Pride was a protest. The civil disobedience that marched through Chicago streets and Stonewall was a riot that lasted for days and was led by Black queers and especially Black transwomen. Yet, those who sacrificed the most are too often left behind in the fight for full LGBTQ equality and racial justice. For the times that Sidetrack has either unintentionally or intentionally negatively impacted the Black and Black Trans Community, or left them behind, we apologize. We have work to do. We will do more.
We remember the days when bars were raided, bartenders were locked up and lives were destroyed when the media “exposed” homosexuals. But despite the brutality, discrimination and abuse, gay white men were still white men. While held back for being queer, with whiteness comes much privilege, especially for those who could “pass” to get a job, find an apartment and access benefits from racist systems. We haven’t done enough to dismantle systemic racism, and it will take more than Supreme Court victories or laws out of Washington. We have a lot of work to do in our own community, and for Sidetrack, that means starting in our own bar… and not stopping.
Listening to understand and to act: We read your comments, we’ll keep answering your calls. If you want to send a message to Sidetrack management’s attention, here’s our email address:
Amplifying and increasing enforcement of a zero-tolerance customer code-of-conduct: Racism, along with homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination have no place in Sidetrack. Customers who do not abide by these standards can find another bar, and our staff will continue to show them the door. Staff, talent, vendors or associates who do not abide by these standards will NOT retain their position with Sidetrack.
Passing the mic to Black performers and talent, especially at events centered around Black artists: We will continue to ensure that our performers are representative of the artists we celebrate, like at All Things Beyoncé. But, that’s not nearly enough. We commit to supporting the diversity of the drag community at all levels, from giving new performers a platform to working with more Black individuals in hosting roles. This will also extend to a strengthened commitment to include Black voices in our monthly OUTspoken storytelling event, at cabaret performances, and at other special events hosted by or at Sidetrack.
Stepping up by sometimes stepping aside: In the coming days, Sidetrack will be rolling out a focused and dedicated way to occasionally and when appropriate turn over our social media platforms to authentic, powerful Black voices.
Recruiting and training “allies” to be partners in justice: “Allyship” is a verb, it requires ongoing learning and organizing to produce meaningful actions. Sidetrack is adding dedicated staff training resources to ensure that we each play a meaningful role in advancing justice in spaces that we may not individually occupy, beginning with non-Black employees.
Evolve “diversity and inclusion” policies to become anti-racism practices: Sidetrack is refocusing ongoing staff training to go beyond diversity, equality and inclusion to work towards becoming a company that practices Anti-Racism. We don’t have all the answers or tools on how to achieve this, but we are actively seeking to engage those who do. We welcome input from leaders to hire in this space.
Direct financial contributions: Sidetrack will continue to use its reach and platform to donate and raise money for Black LGBTQ causes such as Affinity Community Services, Howard Brown Health Center and other organizations doing the groundwork for these causes.
Black employees in positions of power: Once fully open and operational again, Sidetrack will take direct action to hire, train and provide advancement opportunities for Black employees.
On-going Commitment: Sidetrack will work with its patrons, staff, performers, community members, business stakeholders and partner organizations to do the work needed to meet these commitments, continually improve upon our obligations to justice, and work actively to right past wrongs.