The planned protest at McGinley’s Pub over the veto of the Anchorage equal rights ordinance by Mayor Dan Sullivan — who has a 10% interest in the pub — turned out to be not so much of a protest after all.
I arrived shortly after 6:30 PM to find a small group of people across the street from McGinley’s in front of the Dena’ina Convention Center, having a discussion. Other people arrived shortly after I did, but our numbers were small — no more than 20 to 25 people — and it became clear that calling a protest in the morning on the day of, on a Friday when many people already had their plans set, was perhaps not the best way to organize one. It also quickly became clear that there was some disagreement and uncertainty about what to do: some advocated for protest; others to enter the establishment and take up tables, but only buying inexpensive drinks like coffee or soda pop instead of alcohol or food that other patrons would probably buy if they had our table; others yet to take up the offer of McGinley’s managing partner Jack Lewis to hold a conversation over a Guinness.
Ultimately that’s what happened — at least for one or two of the people who showed up; while the rest of us, skeptical after the Summer of Hate and unwilling at this point to give McGinley’s our trade, waited outside and continued to talk. While we waited, one of our number sat amongst the rocks just outside the pub and arranged stones on the sidewalk into the word that probably most of all represents what we’ve been up against all summer: bigotry.
And then, three of our number destroyed it.
(Would that bigotry itself was so easily gotten rid of.)
At length, Michael Mason came back out and told us about his conversation with Mr. Lewis, who he found pleasant, personable, and friendly, and who explained to him his own view of matters: that, as indicated in his press release earlier in the day, Mayor Sullivan is simply an investment partner with only 10% interest in the business, and that McGinley’s is welcoming to patrons from all walks of life and has had no role whatsoever in the ordinance debate. There was a lot of skepticism, including on my part — Sullivan still derives some income from the bar, does he not? — but I’m also capable of being skeptical of my own skepticism: to give the other side some elbow room to show its good will, and to find it’s in earnest. The conversation Michael embarked upon may or may not result in some new understanding between McGinley’s & the LGBT community — it’ll take a few days to know which.
I really liked McGinley’s the two times I’d been in there before. I discovered it last November one day after writing at Side Street Espresso, and had a great lunch there before heading to Kaladi’s for more writing. At the time I thought I could make that into my normal Saturday routine: but learning of Sullivan’s connection to McGinley’s changed all that: I don’t want to support, with my money, people who are unsupportive of me. I’d like to think I could feel comfortable going there again, and that a peaceful dialogue of the likes Michael had with Mr. Lewis earlier today could bring that about. So I’m willing to let the attempt happen. I’m okay that we didn’t, in the end result, have a protest.
Especially because it meant that nice lady I met on the bus, who had planned to start her relaxing weekend with a glass of Riesling at McGinley’s, was able to enjoy it in perfect peace, without our chants distracting her from a well-earned chance to kick back.
Let’s hope something works out. And if it doesn’t… well. If we ever do need to protest McGinley’s, we’ll plan it better.
Thanks to everyone who turned out. And here’s the slideshow.