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07/07/2008

And here we thought the 'No shirt, no shoes, no service' sign was restrictive

by Jeremy Hooper

According to a Queerty reader, the following sign was (is?) hanging up at a Rite Aid store in NYC's West Village (the one on Sixth Avenue at West 13th Street):

 Wp Docs 2008 07 Riteaidgay

Wow. This is totally shocking. We never thought ANYONE could give us strong positive feelings about patronizing Duane Reade stores, but Tom Marquez has just managed to do exactly that.

Though if you think this managerial move is a bad, deeply offensive one -- just wait until later this week, when we hear Mr. Marquez will change his store's name to "AIDS is Rite."

No Gay Rights At NYC Rite Aid [Queerty]

**UPDATE: But wait a minute: Is this much ado about nothing? A store employee says yes: Audio: Rite Aid did no Wrong? [G-A-Y]

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

Could Tom ban sick people too? I'm really uncomfortable waiting for my prescription with all those people hacking, coughing and sneezing. And the sign does say "ANYTHING that would make our customers feel uncomfortable is prohibited in the store."

Has making out in the drug store become a major problem? Is there a new trend that I haven't heard of? It's not like I asked my boyfriend where he'd like to go for a romantic evening out and he responded with "let's go to Rite Aid."

Posted by: keltic | Jul 7, 2008 9:52:20 AM

I didn't realize that buildings could have beliefs, and that said beliefs could trump common decency. So sad that brick and mortar achieves sentience and THIS is what it comes up with.

Posted by: Jason D | Jul 7, 2008 10:12:21 AM

Wow. He really doesn't want any business. Just for you non-NYC types, this is one avenue and change over from the NYC LGBT Center. Not exactly the neighborhood you want to be in if you want to spout homophobic bigotry and stay busy.

But I think that's not a bad idea. I think me and the beau are going in and make out in aisle 5...

Posted by: Morry | Jul 7, 2008 10:18:27 AM

LOL, Jason!

Of course that must also mean the store disallows men from entering into it's backdoor.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 10:18:49 AM

WANT an email site? GOOGLE it and you can write a review of the store.

Posted by: LOrion | Jul 7, 2008 10:21:42 AM

I went to the Rite Aid website and posted the following. If you would like to do the same, the store's zip code is 10011.

I was a loyal customer and shopped frequently at the Rite Aid store at 13th street and 6th avenue in Manhattan. Thanks to the actions of Tom Marquez your store manager I will no longer do any shopping at your store. I maintain a business around the corner and will persuade my employees and friends to do the same. Tom Marquez' anti gay discrimination is a horrendous mistake and will do more harm than good to your company. It's a shame since I preferred Rite Aid to Duane Reade and CVS, but now they will be getting my hard earned money rather than your bigoted stores. It's a real shame that you allow this behavior to ruin your formerly good name.

Posted by: John | Jul 7, 2008 10:23:00 AM

This is an opportunity for some fun while providing great publicity for Rong-Aid. Organize a mass intervention that occurs over an extended period of time. You send in one loving couple, and then just after they are thrown out, another couple enters, etc., etc.. In a place like NYC this could go on for days tying up their employees time. Getting it all on video is essential, or course.

Posted by: Richard Rush | Jul 7, 2008 10:23:06 AM

Agreed, Morry. I've never been turned on in a Rite Aid before, but I'm thinking my partner and I might just have to consider it for our next attempt to set the "most public displays of affection in ten minutes" world record!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 10:23:25 AM

How about the Human Rights Commission of NYC looking into this matter? He can say whatever he want under free speech, but he doesn't have the right to disciminate in a public forum under NYC law. And is the the store a 'private' institution? Something to look into.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 7, 2008 10:25:50 AM

Time for a hold-handing and kiss-in!

Posted by: Ed | Jul 7, 2008 10:39:32 AM

All: The Rite Aid store is denying it came from them:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2008/07/audio-rite-aid.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 10:55:24 AM

I'm glad you posted the update, but... honestly, how oould anyone swallow this on face value and get themselves in a tizzy? If we are willing to believe that a random sign 'claiming' to be from a manager and posted on the outside of the door is proof of anything, then we deserve to be derided. Not for our sexuality; for our gullibility.

For the record, there is apparently no 'Tom Marquez' at that Rite Aid. So everyone can start unbunching their panties now.

Posted by: Famous Author Rob Byrnes | Jul 7, 2008 11:14:19 AM

That's an unfair criticism, Rob. It's not like this is a common prank whose inauthenticity is patently obvious. If a prank, it's an oddly specific one.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 11:18:35 AM

It's also unfair, Rob, to act as if everyone who has reacted negatively to this has had one monolithic response. Some might have had a "heads are gonna roll" reaction, while others wanted to learn more before getting into full-on boycott mode. Personally I was shocked, but had every intent on getting the company on record ASAP (which I did).

There's also some who might call you gullible for willingly accepting the denials from a company who clearly has an interest in running damage control. Even if no "Tom Marquez," this still very well could have been the work of another employee. It could also have been a completely random and unfair act against the store by a layman. We simply do not know. But the point is that this is, regardless of how the facts flesh out the matter, is not a straightforward, obvious joke. It's an odd incident that still holds many questions.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 11:29:50 AM

I think Morry was heading in the right direction given your update. If I were a disgruntled customer (or employee) of a store in the heart of Chelsea, then what better way to score a cheap shot than to surreptitiously post an anti-gay message?

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jul 7, 2008 11:41:51 AM

Jeremy, my comment was based on the fact that this story was covered by several blogs (including this one) in a 'blog first, ask questions later' fashion. And the comments that ensued took the posts as fact.

I highly commend you for taking the initiative to look into it further, but my comment stands. And with all due (and considerable) respect, if I am gullible, at least I am erring on the side of caution, rather than whipping readers into a frenzy over a photo of unknown origin and motivation.

Posted by: Famous Author Rob Byrnes | Jul 7, 2008 12:36:08 PM

Rob: I of course get where you're coming from. But I, while also maintaining great respect for you, do think that you're taking a little too much of a holier-than-thou approach with this. You're making it sounds as if you, unlike all the rest of us, could so clearly see through it. I just don't think the facts, as they organically played out, merit that stance.

What I reported on was the fact that the sign, per a Queerty reader, was posted in the window. I then made a few benign comments about its existence. At that point all of us were on the same page. Me, the readers, yourself -- We all became aware that this sign exists, and then we go about piecing together the "whys" and "hows." That is sometimes the nature of blogging. Nobody was "whipped into a frenzy" by me: They were presented with the situation at hand. Anyone who knows this site knows that I will (a) continue to dig, and (b) GLADLY, WILLINGLY present all information that comes out. That is exactly what happened.

What about a person who just happened on the sign while walking down the street? If their friend points it out to them, is that friend "working up a frenzy"? No! And if the natural reaction is to get pissed, are they in the wrong? No! Well that is essentially what happened here. The Queerty reader served as the eyes for all of us, and we reacted accordingly. The variable is that we chose to go further and get the store on record rather than to stew in our anger.

Oh, and I didn't say you WERE gullible -- I'm saying that one could make that argument.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 12:47:31 PM

I can be very gullible on occasion, but I usually cast a skeptical look at items (especially when they originate at Queerty.) I suspect that's because I'm very, very old. The bad news is that it makes me too skeptical at times. The good news is that I can say 'I told you so' about Obama and still be his supporter. Such as: http://robnyc.blogspot.com/2008/04/question-answered-for-months.html

You jumped right in and looked for answers, so this really isn't a bone I have to pick with G*A*Y. But whether through this site, or Queerty, or Joe My God, or other sites that picked up on this, a lot of people seem to be worked up. For example: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17614054620

Listen, as far as I'm concerned, Godspeed to them. But I'm a bit embarrassed for them (and other people) who ran with a Known Fact before it became a Probable Fiction.

I'll go back to my cave now and try to invent a wheel... :-)

Posted by: Famous Author Rob Byrnes | Jul 7, 2008 9:50:01 PM

LOL. Please don't go back to your cave, Rob. You raise some good and valid points.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 7, 2008 10:48:23 PM

I just received this from Rite Aid today:
John,

I can assure you that we are taking this matter very seriously, and these
signs absolutely do not represent the views of Rite Aid, nor the associate
identified. One of our core values is to be a place where all customers and
associates are treated with respect and dignity.

We are conducting an investigation regarding this matter and our findings
show that these signs were not posted by any current Rite Aid associates as
indicated. As soon as the signs were noticed, they were immediately removed.
We have also notified the local authorities on this act of vandalism, and
are offering our full support and cooperation so that the individual(s)
responsible for this act of intolerance can be prosecuted to the fullest
extent of the law.

Gwyn
Customer Support

Posted by: johnozed | Jul 8, 2008 4:08:01 PM

I like that people on the left carp about people on the right getting worked up over nothing. Such as the incident of the kid drawing a crucifix and getting sent to the counselor. Hey, I mean, at least that incident was real... it was a mis-understanding or taken out of context by the people who reported on it, but it did actually happen. Now we get worked up over a total fake. Really, people on all sides need to calm the F* down.

Posted by: Bruce | Mar 7, 2010 8:58:31 PM

Bruce: Some facts are in order.

(1) This was never proven to be a "total fake." The Rite Aid staff denied all knowledge, and thankfully spoke out against it. But the culprit was never nabbed. it could've been a disgruntled staffer who never owned up to it. Nobody knows. All that was ever "proven" was that it was posted, for some strange reason.

(2) Yes, people reacted to this. Naturally. It's a human instinct. But many sites presented a round picture, with both the incident and Rite Aid's quick and appreciated response. In fact, we posted audio that came directly from this Rite Aid store, as well as other responses from the store regarding the name Tom Marquez/why this might have happened/etc. See update link.

So while easy to act like this was all knee jerk and unfair, the reality is much different.

(3) What's really unfair is that you'd turn this into a right v. left matter when there is absolutely nothing partisan at play. What makes this a right or left matter? Hopefully folks of all political stripes would speak out against the sign (regardless of why it was posted), and hopefully the culprit would receive round criticism regardless of his party ID.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 8, 2010 9:56:52 AM

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