Frank Perez’s investigative report on the compliance issues for Phoenix and Rawhide in Ambush (Volume 37, Issue 7, Page 24). The story gives a detailed account of many of the things we have been dealing with over the past couple months because of a complaint that came from “a concerned French Quarter business owner.” While the Ambush story cites a redacted report, we knew early in the process that the complaint came from Tom Wood. We were and are disgusted. There are enough arrows pointed toward our community in the form of bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and legislated, legalized hate, that for this to come from within our own circle is beyond disheartening. It’s gutting.
We have long held the belief that the queer spaces of Phoenix and Rawhide are an integral part of New Orleans’ unique LGBTQ+ fabric. And yes, our spaces have changed. Mr. Perez said in the article, “the truly sad fact is those losses appear to have come at the hands of members of our own community.”
Wood said in a statement to Ambush: “I cried foul. I am responsible for the employment of almost 100 people and will always do what’s best to protect them as we have for almost five decades.” When “doing what’s best to protect them” involves tearing apart the New Orleans LGBTQ+ community for your financial gain at the expense of generations of our chosen families and collective queer experiences, how is that protecting anyone? The Phoenix is the proud employer to 20 people, and now the livelihood of those 20 people and their families, along with Wood’s own employees and their families at Rawhide, is jeopardized, because of his greed, pettiness, and hate.
We wanted both of these spaces to thrive in the aftermath of this. We will continue to be a champion for all queer spaces to thrive, but we will never stand for deplorable tactics like Wood’s to tear down another.
We also want to thank the city, state, and agency officials who have guided us through this process and have been nothing but supportive and encouraging to get us compliant. As troubling and difficult as this has been, we have made some great new contacts and friends in our local and state governments. They have heard you, our fantastically loyal Phoenix family, and knowing we have so many in our corner has been a great help these past few weeks. We hope you continue to stand with the Phoenix and that you support LGBTQ+ businesses who stand with and support each other. We pledge to do the same.
Tracy ‘Clint’ DerocheOwner, Phoenix Bar