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Outrage Over Photo of El Paso Gay Club Co-Owner at Trump Rally

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Feb 14, 2019

When Johnny Alcantar attended a Feb. 11 Trump rally in El Past, Texas, and then posted a photo of himself with some friends holding up a banner calling for the president's re-election next year, online condemnation from the LGBTQ community was one of outrage - and condemnation, reports Yahoo News.

The reason? Alcanar is part-owner of an El Paso gay nightspot called the Old Plantation, (or OP for short), and the Trump administration, seemingly under the direction of its allies among hard-right-wing evangelicals, has - as America's LGBTQ community knows painfully well - worked steadily to erode equality, visibility, and equal treatment of sexual minorities under the law.

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Local drag artist Puta Khalo took to Facebook to share the image and vent her displeasure, Yahoo News reported.

Describing herself as "disgusted" at the image of a gay club owner supporting Trump, Khalo posted: "Y'all, straight people are the first to try to profit off of our community and our art but don't hesitate to support a man who has called trans people burdens, hasn't done s*** for community but tried to erase us, degraded women and perpetuated racist and xenophobic rhetoric."

Khalo's post prompted responses that suggested people would no longer patronize the OP, as well as arguments that Alcantar should be able to attend whatever rallies or other public events he wishes.

Alcantar himself told local media that he was at the rally to "support our president because he's our current president," and said, "I don't agree with everything that Donald Trump says."

Still, the image of one of its owners holding up a banner calling for the "current president" to remain in office beyond the current term was a cause for concern to the OP, which responded quickly on Facebook with a post of its own.

"It has come to the attention of the Old Plantation ownership and staff that a minority stakeholder in the Old Plantation Nightclub was an attendee of President Trump's rally in El Paso last night," the Feb. 12 post read. "We apologize to our patrons, members of the LGBTQ community, and any other members of the El Paso community for any confusion this has caused about our club, its ownership, and its intention.

"We want to make one thing as clear as crystal," the post continued: "The Old Plantation Nightclub does NOT support Trump's views or opinions, especially towards our LGBTQ community. The OP was built by and built for the LGBTQ community and everyone should know that.

"We understand the concern and outrage from the community being reflected on social media, and we would like to reiterate that the individual who attended Trump's rally is, just that, only one individual who is a minor shareholder that owns a small fraction of the company."

The post went on to say, "We have spoken with this individual and he has expressed his regret for posting about the rally on social media and his fundamental lack of knowledge about the ways in which Trump's administration is working to stifle the rights of the LGBTQ community, as well as the rights of others in the greater El Paso community."

"It's very easy to forget how to express and show love and respect when politicians, including our own president, are spreading division through their words and policies," the post concluded. "We have faith, however, that love will always win."

Impassioned responses to this post, too, were contributed by commenters. An individual responding under the name Mark Aedville Jiminez wrote about going to the OP after coming out in 1977 and celebrating at the club after protesting Anita Bryant. "Now, 40 years later, I see you have a shareholder proudly proclaiming his love for Trump and Pence who would just as soon have us all 'converted', or.... worse...." Jiminez commented.

"My husband, Beau Aragon, and I went to jail when we refused to leave the marriage license counter in Dallas in 2012 trying to get a marriage license," Jiminez went on to say.

"So no.... none of this is ok. None of it."

Others disagreed.

"The community should learn to respect peoples personal time," another individual commented. "It's silly how I see everyone reacting so dramatically over something as trivial as this. You are no different than Trump in this respect when you choose to deviate individuals for merely attending a political event."

Several comments suggested that the OP should toss Alcantar out of the business. That line of argument prompted one individual to post, "Folks, they can't just boot a shareholder out without buying him out.

"That said, how much for his shares?"

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.


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