Venues issue fresh apologies for cultural appropriation and blackface

Perth’s LGBTI venues have issued a fresh wave of apologies for performances that included blackface and cultural appropriation in the past.

Both The Court Hotel and Connections Nightclub issued apologies for past performances in 2020, but following local drag star Scarlett Adams being selected for the upcoming series of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under the issue has reignited leading to both businesses to issue fresh apologies.

“We want to apologise to the community as we deconstruct these ugly parts of our past and recognize the historical institutionalized privilege that we carry at the expense of the BIPOC community.” Connections Nightclub said in a statement posted to their website.

“The use of blackface and the mockery of the Aboriginal community and flag is abhorrent to us as a business and inclusive venue. Whilst the individual involved was asked to leave and suspended from shifts, we must acknowledge that this took place in our venue and a person presenting in such a derogatory and offensive way should never have been allowed to cross our threshold.

“It is regrettable that further necessary disciplinary action subsequently did not take place at that time and we would like to reassure our patrons and current staff that procedures, policies and standards have developed significantly in the intervening decade.”

“We also need to reflect on a series of events where we used the traditional dress, make up and garments of several cultures that were not our own. These included, among others; the cultures, nationalities and minorities of China, India, Japan and Korea. These were as inappropriate then as at any other time and we never want to use other peoples’ culture or identity as a ‘theme’.

“We constantly seek and continue to take on community views and we vowed we will do better. We have already had a number of additional positive meetings with a range of organizations, groups and patrons and are working towards better outcomes with a range of groups to ensure the welcoming, inclusive culture that we strive to provide.

“We hope that the wider community can come forth and recommend community leaders or organizational bodies that we can engage in dialogue as we seek to educate ourselves, our staff and our patronage and show that we want to be consistent in heading towards a future of more diverse representation and education of the cultures of those we have hurt.” the venue said.

The Court Hotel also issued a new apology earlier in the week.

“The Court strives to be a safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of sexuality, age, gender or race. We celebrate differences in people and welcome people from all nationalities at the venue.” the venue said in a statement

“We acknowledge the historic images shared on social media of Scarlet Adams and other performers here at The Court have offended people. Whilst we did not specify the content of the shows, we do take responsibility for allowing them to happen on our stage almost a decade ago and we unreservedly apologise for any offense caused by any performance at the venue that has not been culturally appropriate.

“These shows, quite simply, should not have happened.

“The Court has developed policies for both professional and amateur drags to ensure that the performers reflect the values of the venue. The management team have worked with the drag queens to ensure that racist and culturally inappropriate shows do not happen again on our stage.

“At The Court, we aim to educate as we believe the most positive outcomes are achieved this way, in this case we ourselves have also been educated. The queen in question has apologized after realising the offense they have caused and we accept their apologies and appreciate their openness to also being educated on the issue. We feel, in this situation, the queen is not only deeply sorry for their actions but they fully appreciate and understand the issue.

“We hope this message goes towards healing for the hurt we have caused.” the venue said in a post to Facebook.

While the apology from Connections Nightclub has largely been praised by patrons, the message from The Court Hotel received a harsh backlash from followers of their page. Many people called for the venue to remove the Pride symbols from the outside of the venue arguing it was no longer for safe space for LGBTIQ+ people, while others described the most recent apology as disingenuous.  This lead to the venue issuing an addendum to their original apology addressing the additional issues raised.

There have also been apologies for several of Perth’s well-know drag stars including Dean Misdale (formerly Feminem the Future), Scarlet Adams, Perri Prism (formerly Perri Oxide),  Hannah Conda and others.

OIP Staff

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