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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 24, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 25
Printing company refuses Gay bar flyer
Section One
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Printing company refuses Gay bar flyer

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

When Mike Reis and his partner, Mark Hurst, needed flyers printed to announce the grand opening of Diesel, a new bear bar on Capitol Hill's 14th Avenue, the last thing they thought they would encounter was discrimination. The idea was to get the posters up - 2,500 in total - during Pride weekend so the thousands of tourists and locals who attend the various Pride events would see them.

Instead, Reis said, Access Printed Media refused Diesel service because of their homosexual lifestyle.

Whenever you hear about something like this in 2011, you tend to scratch your head and say, 'Really?' Unfortunately, in the case of Diesel and Access Printed Media & yes, really.

Reis and Hurst received an email from one of the printer's employees saying that, while the business was not 'against homosexuals & advertising and promoting the kind of lifestyle that goes against our morals is something that [the owner] can't bring himself to do.'

'We were furious, it was very shocking,' Reis told SGN. 'It was obvious that they do have an issue with homosexuals.'

Reis says he read the email three times before he could 'believe what I was reading. What lifestyle were they regarding?' he told SGN. 'This wasn't very bright the way it was written & 'not that we have anything against Gay people but & we don't support your lifestyle' is what it said.'

Reis says they felt outraged and derailed. 'We didn't expect this from someone in Seattle,' he said, 'This was outrageous.'

Reis declined to respond to the email.

The flyer is simple enough. The words 'Get pumped!' could be considered suggestive, but let's face it - it is a flyer for a Gay bar, after all. The only profanity is 'Bad Ass Bartenders' and 'No Bullshit Drinks' - again, quite tame by today's standards. The graphic, a cartoon gas station attendant leaning against a gas pump, is the least suggestive part of the flyer.

'The flyer is really non-offensive,' Reis said. 'There is absolutely nothing sexually suggestive. We put a lot of thought into this. Part of our planning is that we wanted to choose something that would be recognizable and have some class. The Diesel diamond shape and gas pump being looked at as sexually suggestive is preposterous.'

In a KING 5 interview, Delaney (he refuses to give his last name for fear of public backlash), the owner of the printing company located in Kent, said, 'I personally feel a personal conviction to not violate the personal moral code I have. It's got profanity on it. My kids come to work, they see stuff that daddy's printing.'

Delaney said that Sarah Wheeler, the part-time employee who sent the email to Reis, was not authorized to do so. 'I feel like my name and my business name is getting dragged through the mud.'

'I would like to apologize to the owners of the establishment, I meant you no harm, those are not my views,' said Delaney.

Reis is not buying it. 'I would be willing to wager that if you did some digging, you could find images far worse than what we've asked him to print,' said Reis. 'None of his apologies are genuine. His reaction and [lack of] candor in the media has made us more upset.'

Interestingly, the print company's website was removed after the incident.

The issue has caught the attention of the ACLU of Washington.

'The community response has been tremendous,' Reis told SGN. 'Dan Lane from tabstogo.com says he will print 1,000 flyers for free.'

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