Honey Davenport is a respected NYC performer.
As a staple on the stage at Manhattan’s Monster Bar located just across from the historic Stonewall Inn, on a street that saw the birth of a revolution, Honey Davenport started another one that is long, long overdue.
Speaking from on the microphone to a packed audience, Davenport does exactly what she is famous for; Rile the crowd with wily enthusiasm. She said, “Each and every Saturday I pulled out the show- are you ready for me to give you a number tonight? Are you ready to see me perform tonight?” She was met with anxious cheers.
Suddenly, the multi-title winning performer’s face fell and she began to tremble.
“Unfortunately ladies and gentlemen, you won’t be seeing me perform tonight.” She began. The startled crowd reacted with confusion and disappointment as she continued.
“Because yesterday- and I want you guys to listen to this very clearly. And I’m going to make it really short and sweet so you can get back to your dance party- Yesterday my manager was sent a message from the general manager (Of the Bar she was speaking in.) telling me that the advertisement for this party was promoting an event for black people, and that was bad for business.”
Shocked, the onlookers began to boo loudly. However, the Drag performer known for her astounding dance and lip sync abilities wasn’t done. Her hand began to shake as she found herself struggling to hold back an evident swell of emotion.
“They said that the two dancers we have on our stage tonight needed to be replaced with beautiful people. After six years of literally laying everything that I have on the line on this stage, I can no longer do it…. Thank you so much for your love and support, but I can’t do this here anymore. I encourage you to support the Monster as much as you can, but as for me and for my friends, I can’t be a part of this anymore. If you don’t want my people at the party, I won’t be there.”
And with that, she dropped the microphone and walked out of the bar as the audience chanted her name.
As we know all to well, racism is alive and well in the era of Trump. In 2018 alone, we must acknowledge that Trump’s first year in office was a record breaking year for hate-based murders of Transgender women, and the instances of verbal assaults and physical violence toward immigrants and people of color has skyrocketed as our President continues to paint targets firmly on the backs on of the sick, the poor, the non-white, the LGBT community and women across the country.
But, one place that has pledged to resist the onslaught of bigotry seemingly sanctioned by the White House is New York City.
New York City is a melting pot of communities, cultures and colors which blend beautifully in a tableau that stands firmly as a representation of what the rest of our nation should strive to achieve. Even though it has not escaped the impact of Trump-era politics and we’ve seen a spike in hate crimes minorities, the support for the victims is swift, and New Yorkers band together to stand firmly against social prejudice. After all, these are the people who endured 9/11 and still came out on the other side with pride in their city, their people, and the heroes who lept into action. We live, today, in a much different climate provoked by the prejudices of an ableist administration who deliberately stokes the ires of bigotry and intolerance every day. Even though New York City isn’t impervious to the tragic effects of this, the residents are known for their enviable ability to stand united in the face of opposition.
Sadly, what happened to Honey Davenport isn’t the first time racism has reared its ugly head in the LGBT nightlife arena. Zarria Van Wales Powell, a Trans woman and Drag Performer in New York City was scheduled to perform at a club called Vodka Soda/Bottoms Up last January. The venue, located in Hell’s Kitchen, a veritable Gay Mecca peppered with many gay friendly bars is owned by Richie Friendly, an adamant Trump Supporter. Powell arrived at the venue with a friend she’d brought along to see the show.
Before retreating to her dressing room to change, she bought her friend a four dollar drink while she waited for Powell to get into costume and take the stage with her co-host for an evening of fun and frivolity.
Unfortunately, Before Powell could make it to the Dressing room, she was stopped firmly by the owner, Mr. Friendley, who said “Free drinks are not for customers, get out of my bar.” Powell maintains that she attempted to explain, civilly, that she paid for the drink herself and that there had been no ill intent, however, Mr. Friendley wasn’t willing to listen. He demanded she vacate the premises. Powell had performed there before and was blindsided by the altercation, which she alleges, was baseless. She attempted to inform Mr. Friendley there had been a misunderstanding. Rather than listen, he called his security guard, who also knew Miss Powell from previous appearances at the establishment, and who told her “I know we know each other and I’m really sorry but I have to ask you to leave.”
Powell didn’t resist. According to her hour long facebook live video, she gathered her belongings and headed toward the door whereupon she came face to face with Mr. Friendley once again. She claims, having heard many rumors about his racism and stories involving the removal of people of color from his bar in the past, she had opted not to believe them and instead based her opinions on her own experiences at the venue. Until now.
She confronted him one last time before leaving, saying “I bet if I was white, this wouldn’t be happening, you’re doing this because I’m black.” To which Mr. Friendley allegedly responded “Yup.” and as he turned from her, Powell says, he uttered the N word. At this point, Powell left.
We have a responsibility to look out for one another, to stand against bigotry in every form, and to refuse to let it parade in cavalier fashion and without shame. Not in New York City, not anywhere.
I applaud these incredible performers for their bravery. They define the word Heroes.
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