Over the weekend, two Seattle area gay bars – The Cuff Complex and The Seattle Eagle – were the targets of a crackdown by the Joint Enforcement Team (JET), a coalition of Seattle Police, Fire, and the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB).
As the local news outlet The Stranger notes, raiding gay bars in 2024 “feels a bit vintage.”
A coalition of law enforcement officials raided two Seattle gay bars and found nipples and jockstraps in close proximity to booze. Bar owners at Cuff and the Eagle say they may face citations.
What year is it, again? https://t.co/URy2zdT9zl
— The Stranger 🗞 (@TheStranger) January 30, 2024
From The Stranger:
And what did they find? A bartender’s exposed nipple and a few people wearing jockstraps, offenses that law enforcement can cite you for in Washington if you’re also selling alcohol.
At 12:30 on Saturday morning, a 10-member JET crew filed into Cuff, according to owner Joey Burgess. They came in with flashlights, scaring some patrons who left in a hurry. Inside, they saw the offending nipple, a violation of state law the JET may penalize in some way.
Saturday night, two JET officials entered the Eagle at 11:30 pm and inspected the premises, owner Keith Christensen said. He’s waiting on a call from them about the jockstraps and a potential citation.
Neither The Eagle nor Cuff had ever been cited for alcohol- or violence-related offenses. The only issues raised were clothing-related which were noted as “lewd conduct violations.”
In the aftermath of the weekend’s events, local gay bar owners are teaming up with local LGBTQ leaders Dan Savage and Terry Miller to ask JET to explain its actions.
“None of the venues in our coalition have ever been cited for alcohol or violence related offenses,” the statement from the club owners reads. “Citations were issued based solely on individuals’ clothing choices, such as being shirtless or wearing a jockstrap, which we consider a breach of the power entrusted to JET and the LCB for maintaining public safety.”
“The absence of violence or liquor-related issues in the citations indicates a concerning focus on targeting queer individuals in queer spaces,” they write.
The Liquor Control Board denied the enforcement efforts were due to the venues’ LGBTQ affiliation in a statement which read in part:
The LCB wishes to assure the LGBTQ+ community that, in no uncertain terms, the agency does not and will not target LGBTQ+ locations.
LCB recognizes that these venues are considered “safe spaces for historically marginalized community members” and concerns raised by the visits over the last weekend raised alarm and concern among community members.
On Saturday Jan. 27, two LCB officers conducted routine premise checks at eight Seattle licensed locations. Of these, two were known LGBTQ+ liquor-licensed locations. Officers reported witnessing one violation involving lewd conduct. At this location, LCB officers spoke to the manager about the lewd conduct rules.
Swipe through Savage’s Instagram post below for his full statement.