Nightlife » Bars

Some in Hell’s Kitchen Say No to Gay Sports Bar

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Aug 26, 2011

A gay New York sports bar looking to expand to a new location has encountered resistance from the denizens of its target neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen, tabloid newspaper the New York Post reported on Aug. 22.

The proposed location for a new Boxers -- to be called Boxers HK -- is right near two schools, one of them parochial and the other public.

Boxers is so named because of the minimal attire worn by its well-build bartenders. The bar hosts frequent events of interest to the gay community, such as a recent appearance by GLBT equality advocate and English rugby champion Ben Cohen.

One local, 53-year-old Iyanth Davis, told the Post that it was "disgusting" to consider putting the bar at an address with such proximity to schools. "That's absolutely too close to these two schools," Davis said, adding, "And the issue is not that it's a gay bar." Rather, that Boxer's is any sort of establishment where drinking takes place was at the heart of the objection.

The original Boxers, a popular nightspot, is in Chelsea. The Hell's Kitchen address where the second bar would be built is a "dilapidated" structure that the business would overhaul, noted in an Aug. 23 article.

A lawyer representing Boxers told that the owners of the popular gay bar are informed as to the law and intend to follow established ordinances regarding zoning.

"We have investigated that -- we've done some area surveys -- and based upon what we've seen, so far we feel as though we are in compliance with the law," the lawyer said.

The Post article said that while that might be so, it was only barely: Part of the building Boxer's wants to renovate is located too near to one of the schools to conform to zoning requirements. To address that problem, the Post article said, Boxer's is allegedly considering subdividing the space, keeping the bar area just far enough away from the school to stay within the letter of the law.

Though some residents were troubled (or disgusted) with the idea, others saw no problem with it, noting that schoolchildren would frequent the area by day while the adult patrons of the bar would show up at night.

"I don't really see a problem with it," resident Matthew Garrett told local media outlet WPIX-TV in a story that fellow broadcaster Fox 13 posted online. "I feel like the time that people are going to frequent a gay bar in Hell's Kitchen is not going to be during school hours," Garrett added.

Moreover, there's already a liquor store in operation in the vicinity. The bar's lawyer indicated that the business wanted to maintain good relations with the neighborhood.

"[W]e know what the rules are and just as important we want to draw customers from the community," said the lawyer, who pointed out that the new business would an influx of up to 50 jobs. "We don't want to disturb our neighbors."

For others, the fact that Boxers is a gay bar was in and of itself very much a problem. One commentator posted a compendium of anti-gay myths online in the Post's comments section.

"They just want to have a new gay recruiting center close to the impressionable youth," the posting, dated Aug. 22, read.

"The 'gay agenda' don't you know," the posting continued. "They can plan their wedding at the new bar and pick out the children they want to adopt from the playground and school.'Not that there's anything wrong with that'."

Cyd Zeigler, writing at GLTB sports site Outsports, weighed in on the issue in an Aug. 23 posting, with tongue in cheek.

"School gets out in the early afternoon. Bars open in the late afternoon and on the weekends. And even if they were open at the same time, a) the bar wouldn't allow 12-year-olds into the bar and b) patrons wouldn't be outside trying to lure kids away with bottles of Coors Lite," Zeigler posted.

"In an overcrowded city where you're always 200 feet from a teenager, you can't legislate everything," Zeigler added. "Heck, the first Boxers is next door to an old church (that now houses a bar)...and Manhattan hasn't sunk into the ocean yet!"

The local Community Board has slated a meeting about the proposed new location for Sept. 13.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • , 2011-08-26 10:34:01

    Why doesn’t this article mention the most important thing? Its a gay neighborhood!!! Why else would this bar want to be there? As a resident of HK I’m sure these kids have seen plenty, after all they live in NYC and close to time square. So what is the issue? I’m sure they have seen guys kissing guys or holding hands. In fact they might even have same sex parents. It seems to me that the people who have an issue are not the students or the locals.

  • twitter @kenninchitown, 2011-09-04 09:50:07

    I can only laugh at this comment about a ’gay recruiting station’! Believe me I didn’t ’turn’ gay because of a table at my high school’s career fair! These parents need to get over themselves and realize that we are everywhere and hiding your children isn’t going to stop them from learning about the world around them. It’s also funny because the father complaining in this story is then first one having a drink at Hooter’s (with no complaints I’m sure)

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