Chicago’s Jackhammer Nightclub Accused of Transphobia
Taped Brawl Leads To Arrests And Controversy!
If you’ve ever visited Chicago, especially during the gay porn awards, The Grabbys, you must be aware gay-leather nightclub, Jackhammer, is one of the definite places to visit. While it’s more north of main gayborhood, Boystown, it’s certainly a hot spot to let loose, especially in the basement where clothes come off and inhibitions are unleashed. I’ve always felt welcomed at Jackhammer and have noticed the colorful cast of club patrons each time I’ve been in there. To hear the nightclub is being accused of racism and transphobia over social media baffled me to no end. Why the claims? According to CWB Chicago, a popular fact-forward police blotter, for the lack of a better term, showcases a brawl in Jackhammer at 4AM this past Sunday morning. The bold video shows a group of transgender club patrons growing violent while being kicked out of the establishment after being hostile and physical with a 50-year-old club patron who was allegedly punched in the head. After trying to re-enter the nightclub after the entrance was locked on them, the group gets one patron on the ground outside and begins beating and kicking him in unison. It’s terrifying. Check out the video below:
This led to some social media outrage that Jackhammer is a racist and transphobic establishment. Even a transgender woman who was the DJ at Jackhammer that night held these claims:
Zany, well-liked, yet sometimes controversial Chicago Drag Queen, Teri Yaki, was a witness to the brawl and posted the video to her Facebook page with a statement. Yaki tells:
“I saw it from start to finish. Unfortunately we didn’t start filming till they finally got removed. Those people who are screaming “racist” were hitting the staff and threatening customers screaming and causing [an] all out melee. The staff at Jackhammer handled the situation with as much professionalism as they could considering the violence being directed at them. None of them disrespected any of the members of that group. They were simply looking out for the safety of the rest of the patrons once fighting broke out. The group was asked to leave and when they didn’t more violence began….and not from the staff. The fact that they were removed had absolutely nothing to do with what gender they identified with or the color of their skin. My partner’s thumb is broken from being thrown to the floor and as I was trying to break up a fight was punched in the head. It’s easy to jump on some bandwagon of “justice” when you don’t know the facts. Beware of individuals who trigger you with words like “racist” or “transphobic” in order to excuse their horrible behavior. This jumping to conclusions and social media mob like behavior is tearing our community apart. People need to accept responsibility for their actions regardless of gender or race. Bad behavior is bad behavior. Place the blame where it belongs. And before you blindly believe individuals who thrive on this type of drama and spread untruths on social media to draw attention to themselves, make sure you get the whole story. Those types of people are not to be trusted.”
(Side Note: Yaki is probably better than this, but I’d absolutely love to see her on Rupaul’s Drag Race!) I must say, in this particular case, it appears Yaki is speaking the truth. From the video, you can obviously see who is starting the trouble and these people should not be allowed in another club again if they want to bring in nothing but negative, violent attitudes. Trying to pull the door open to the point where it breaks? That’s not cute. Two from the group were arrested but released hours later.
The owners of Jackhammer released a statement among the controversy and viral video:
“As the owners of Jackhammer since last Fall, we are steadfast in our desire to make sure Jackhammer is absolutely an inclusive safe space for all. We know much work needs to be done to do so. We are committed to doing what needs to be done so that incidents like last night do not happen, and when issues arise within the bar they are de-escalated as rapidly and respectfully as possible.
We are still gathering information about all that happened last night. We do want to make clear that at no point did Jackhammer ask the police to press charges against anyone, nor did we ever consider that. We are not aware of who made any allegations against the individuals who were arrested or what the reason was for the arrests. Other than to take photos of our business licenses, which is standard protocol, the police did not enter the bar or interview any of our staff.
Even before the events of last night we had begun a review of all policies and procedures regarding safety and security in the bar. We are also reviewing programming, events and customer support to improve our inclusiveness and responsiveness to situations. We are fully committed to redoubling those efforts.
Finally, we have reached out to several people in the community who have agreed to work with us through this process as we work together to make Jackhammer a place that is truly safe and welcoming to everyone in our community.”
Well done on the owners for releasing an apology. Although, I can’t imagine many others rallying against them? If someone is bringing violence and harm to not only your patrons and establishment, but also your reputation, wouldn’t you want to escort them out? A Bouncer was recently stabbed at popular gay bar, Micky’s, in West Hollywood, California. When is this nonsense going to end?! After the Pulse Nightclub Massacre, don’t you think we as a community would want to reengage that the LGBTQ bars should be our safe spaces? What do you think of the intimidating video?
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself nor fellow contributors.