Several weeks ago, I wrote about a new nightclub experience coming to Myrtle Beach – Ru Mors at Kono, what promised to be “the newest, largest and most anticipated gay nightlife in Myrtle Beach – an alternative multilevel club in the heart of (the city).” That did say “gay,” right?
Well this is where the interesting part comes in – and trust me, rumors abound. The club is still billing itself as a full-on gay nightclub on its Web site, but according to a recent post on the club’s Facebook.com page, it is only doing gay “themed” nights on Friday and Saturday. And advertisements that ran in Surge described it as “alternative” nightclub instead of gay.
Shortly after celebrating an extremely successful opening weekend, the news started circulating that long-time bar staff in the gay community, Ken Phillips along with his partner Frank Bush and Julie Thomas – who had all left their previous positions at Time Out! to help open Ru Mors, had dissolved their partnership with the company after extenuating circumstances. In response, Ru Mors said through a Facebook.com post, “we always have and always will support the LGBT community. We are still doing Gay Theme Nights on Friday and Saturdays as well as other theme nights throughout the week.”
It seems that before the club could even fully go through the true opening cycle of a business the decision had already been made to change the format – which happens all too often. The result in this circumstance was that the club operators immediately made the LGBT community feel as though it was only used for generating ideas for the creation of the club, making sure that it had an amazing opening weekend and then passed along.
Here’s where I’m going to get personal for a little bit, and this being a column I feel that I can and should proceed that way. I’ve always had a problem with clubs in markets like Myrtle Beach that continually use the terms “gay-themed” and more importantly “alternative” nights or clubs to feel they are catering to the LGBT community. My life, or sexuality is not a theme or alternative. These words automatically imply choice and continue a degrading culture that creates a separate class of citizenship - and they are used to continually eliminate equal rights to the LGBT community. The gay and lesbian community is thriving along the Grand Strand, with residents and tourists alike. It has continued to grow the past several years and was evident from the turnout at Ru Mors’ grand opening - which I’m sure financially pleased the owners.
As many have posted in response to the club’s public statement – I feel used once again by an organization that continues to want our community’s money and talents but seems not to see us as equal participants in the creation of a better, more diverse community. Community entertainment seems to go on three possible courses through development toward cultural progressiveness – 1. Alternative nights which perpetuate stereotypes and give straight club owners the ability to say they are supportive but not follow through, 2. Gay clubs and straight clubs exist, usually in different parts of the nightlife landscape catering to separate groups and rarely crossing over except for those nights when straight girls think it will be “cool” to go to a gay club and 3. gay and straight establishments co-exist serving the diverse community with blurred lines but open minds and acceptance. Myrtle Beach is caught between 1 and 2 and it seems that through recent events and the reach of social media, is creating a larger voice for change.
Whatever the story is behind the decisions that have been made, the community is waiting patiently to see where Phillips, Bush and Thomas end up. They seem to have a huge fan base that will prove successful for future endeavors. I implore you to not only listen to explanations and reasoning from both sides, but hold them to their word. If Ru Mors’ owners want to support the LGBT community – make them prove it. Are they giving back to the community? Are they supporting local charities such as Red Ribbon Friends, Careteam and Myrtle Beach Gay Days? Do they have equal employment policies that cover protection and equal benefits for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees? And, are they capable of helping to reshape the entertainment culture along the Grand Strand for the benefit of more than just their pockets? If not, then it’s time to move on.
Take it a step further. During National LGBT Pride Month, it’s time to take a hard look at ourselves and all of our community businesses, restaurants, clubs and, most importantly, leaders to make sure that we leave the rumors behind and take action to change the course. Trust me – option 3 above is definitely possible and foreseeable in the not-so-distant future if we make it happen.
OUT & ABOUT
Friday, June 22 & Saturday, June 23 – In celebration of Pride month and since the first weekend was such a huge hit – Power of Pride night will return to Rainbow House on Friday and Saturday. DJ J Peters will spin live and there is no cover charge. Rainbow House is at 815 N. Kings Highway in downtown Myrtle Beach. For more information visit www.RainbowHouseMyrtleBeach.com or call 626-7298.
Monday, June 25 – Members of the Senior Tour Happy Hour group are holding a special happy hour celebration to remember and honor the late John Stewart who was a part of the community in Myrtle Beach before passing away late last week. Stewart was a member of the Myrtle Beach Gay Days board of directors and was instrumental in forming H.O.P.E., the first HIV support group along the Grand Strand. Participants will meet at Rainbow House before heading out to other local bars.
Saturday, June 30 – The annual Pride Beach Day to Celebrate the 4th of July will be held on June 30 this year. This community-organized event takes place on the beach at 82nd Ave. N. in Myrtle Beach and starts at 9 a.m. The fun keeps going all day so bring you chairs, sunscreen and friends. The event is open to everyone and people are encouraged to bring food and drink items to share.
Aug. 10-12 – Myrtle Beach Gay Days has just been announced this week for the second weekend in August. According to a recent post on the organizing group’s Facebook page, more info will be coming forth soon. Last year, nearly 200 people gathered at the park at The Market Common to create a human rainbow flag. For more information, visit www.MyrtleBeachGayDays.com.
Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Chris Rudisill an e-mail to SouthernGayWriter@gmail.com. You can also follow along on Facebook.com @SouthernGayWriter for more news and events.