Pole dancers up in arms after Pete Buttigieg pulls out of gay club fundraiser at last minute
The decision by presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg to pull out of a fundraiser at a gay club that has a pole in the middle has caused outrage among pole dancers.
Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, cancelled a fundraiser at LGBT+ venue The Dark Lady, in Providence, Rhode Island, at the last minute over the weekend.
The owner of the venue called out the pair in a Facebook post, saying: “Pete Buttigieg’s husband just cancelled his appearance/fundraise because the ‘gay bar has a dancer pole’ .
“We guess this is what the gay candidate does to the gay community.”
Now, pole dancers have spoken out about their anger at Buttigieg’s last-minute decision – which reportedly cost the queer venue $1,000.
“The pole stigma is associated with sex work, but sex workers whether they’re on a pole or not are humans, too, and shouldn’t be discriminated against for providing a service as old as time,” Steven Retchless, a gay male pole dancer, told the Washington Blade.
“Get over it and support the whole gay community — not just the picture perfect, ‘masc for masc,’ fit-into-a-box and label-me-conservative side,” he said.
Philip Deal, a queer pole dancer, said the decision to nix the fundraiser was “shameful,” and said LGBT+ people should look to another candidate than Pete Buttigieg.
“In a way, this validated an important point about leadership,” Deal said. “Voting for someone who has lived long enough to experience American history does make a lot of sense.”
Buck Asprinio, the general manager of The Dark Lady, said the Buttigieg campaign asked the venue to remove the pole, but the venue refused.
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“It’s been here since we opened and it’s not going anywhere,” Asprinio said. “The dancer pole is part of who we are ─ if you want to dance on a pole, we’re the place to be.”
“We had sent pictures of the club, they knew exactly what the place looked like,” Asprinio added.
Tess Whittlesey, a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson, didn’t dispute the account of the cancellation but said: “Our commitment to LGBTQ+ spaces is strong and we always strive to hold events in inclusive spaces.
“Pete and Chasten know first-hand how important it is for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have a safe space to gather and our campaign would never do anything to intentionally disrespect such a space.”
Whittlesey provided a list of LGBT+ venues that Buttigieg has held events in, including a Human Rights Campaign gala in Houston and the Las Vegas LGBTQ Center.
But according to the Washington Blade, none of the venues listed were comparable to a gay nightclub.