As a destination for both tourists and locals seeking to enjoy its growing nightlife offerings, Scottsdale is being confronted with an image problem. Normally city and business leaders leap into action at such a situation without waiting for prompting from these pages, and usually for the wrong reasons.
This time the issue isn’t to protect Scottsdale’s aging constructed image as an Old West town nor is it a crusade by members of the City Council to promote public morality; again, on these matters officials frequently opened their mouths without doing enough thinking first. Unlike these others, which were hardly matters of consequence, this issue is whether Scottsdale projects a welcoming image to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered, often referred to with the omnibus acronym LGBT. As the Tribune’s Ari Cohn reported in a two-part series earlier this week, a combination of events has prompted the national Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination to urge the city to pay more attention to “the growing level of intolerance” against LGBT individuals in Scottsdale.
GLAAD’s president is former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuiliano, who in a July 30 statement cited several reasons to urge Scottsdale to focus attention on the issue.
Giuliano mentioned two attacks against homosexuals in the past year, one outside a Scottsdale bar, the other outside a Scottsdale restaurant. He also pointed out that Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross rewrote a mayoral proclamation proposed by the city Human Relations Commission that affirmed the contributions of the LGBT community in Scottsdale; the ultimate proclamation contained no references to LGBT people at all.
Giuliano also cited a November incident in which a transgendered woman, Michele deLaFreniere, and several other transgendered women were made to leave the downtown Scottsdale nightclub Anderson’s Fifth Estate after they used the club’s women’s restroom.
DeLaFreniere, who also chairs the city Human Relations Commission, has filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Club owner Tom Anderson told us that he will be at that office Tuesday to be interviewed.
We have spoken with both DeLaFreniere and Anderson, who gave us markedly different versions of events of that night in November. Each appears to want to work something out, but each has different solutions.
As a community, both the public and private sectors need to address the rights of LGBT individuals. Scottsdale City Hall can start by not deleting them from official statements. The business community can start dialogue with LGBT people and organizations. Anderson’s establishment isn’t the only one in Scottsdale to be patronized by LGBT people and won’t be the only one in the future.
A clear solution is difficult and many that have been proposed appear to be problematic to someone. Barkeepers and transgendered customers need to negotiate more and accuse less. And the government should refrain from overregulation, which is likelier than not to be too vague and thus inapplicable.