Sunday, April 02, 2006


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


It has come to my attention that the gay male owners of local steambath chain F212 are opening up an exclusive gay hotel for gay men only. This is advertised on their website

My concern is as follows. Gay and Lesbians can travel to any hotel anywhere in the world and not be discriminated against. In fact, travel agencies and much of the corporate sector target the gay community for its financial clout.

So why would two gay men want to convert a hotel, which may quite possibly be an SRO hotel for poor people and change it for the exclusive domain of gay male tourists?

Have we not moved beyond segregation in our society? I sure hope we have. And I think it inappropriate for a city licensed venue to advertise 'for whites only' or 'no indians or yellows allowed'. In fact once upon a time black people were not allowed in white hotels. The F212 is advertising a hotel for "gay men only" and to me this ranks right up there with the historical WRONGS OF THE PAST.

I am CONCERNED because we have fought for justice so nobody in society is rejected or harmed because of bigotry or intolerance. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is built on the values of respect, diversity, tolerance and equality.

So is a segment of the gay community going to far in wanting a public hotel to be changed for their exclusive use? Obviously, this is a business decision in time to capitalize on Vancouver/Whistler hosting the 2010 Olympics and this disturbs me.

My hope is that Vancouver has moved far beyond exclusionist and regressive social policies. We recently elected a Mayor who is confined to a wheelchair and this promotes to the rest of the world what a progressive city we are. At the recent Turin Olympics, our Mayor, Sam Sullivan, shone. He did so because, he is disabled and this did not matter to our Vancouver citizenry, who elected him. Everyone is talking about our Mayor and this has showcased Vancouver in a very positive light.

I think it problematic if people are kicked out of their SRO homes for a conversion to a tourist hotel and this will mark Vancouver with a black eye. And to have gay men leading this is terribly sad.

Disclaimer--while I do not have proof that the Hotel being opened by the owners of F212 is an SRO, this avenue must be explored since one of their gay male bathhouses is located in the basement of an SRO on Granville street. There is an anti-conversion bylaw in place but owners can opt out after paying a $5,000 per room fee. This will happen frequently as we move closer to 2010.

I will continue to follow this story since the gay press (XtraWest is doing nothing on it). It should be noted that F212 is one of XtraWest biggest advertisers.

Jamie Lee Hamilton