Alex Blaze

Gay-Friendly Restaurant Says Susan Stanton Is Harassing Them

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 06, 2011 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: fort lake, homophobic behavior, largo, LGBT, Michael Zewe, susan stanton, transphobia

Here's a situation between a Florida gay-friendly restaurant that runs a gay tea dance on Sundays and city manager Susan Stanton. Long-time Bilerico readers will remember Stanton from our five bazillion posts on her, including when she was fired from a city manager position in another town for announcing she'd transition, when HRC made her their favorite trans woman after the 2007 ENDA disaster, when she said that it's totally fine for trans people to be fired because trans people haven't proved they're "viable workers," and when CNN made a documentary on her. Becky Juro summed up how a number of trans people feel about Stanton with the title "Why the Transgender Community Had to Take Out Susan Stanton."

susan-stanton.pngThe restaurant has been harassed by noise complaints for three years, ever since it re-branded itself as a gay hang-out. The restaurant owners went to talk to the city manager about this harassment and say it didn't turn out well:

Zewe started a petition asking the Lake Worth City commission to investigate the matter. He and others believe transgender Stanton is behind a campaign to harrass The Cottage.

"Susan Stanton said men in dresses and men dancing with men is offensive, and if we would continue that behavior we would just have to suffer the consequences," Zewe said.

Stanton completely denies that happened, and apparently there were only three people in the office at the time. Stanton did send an email to a resident joking with him about how he should egg the The Cottage.

She responded with a resolution:

City commissioners reacted Tuesday to e-mails accusing City Manager Susan Stanton of being biased against gays and lesbians by passing a resolution reaffirming the city's commitment to diversity.

The resolution, approved before a standing-room-only crowd, reaffirms the city's commitment to "full and equal rights for all of its residents and employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

Well, that's a relief. No city that passes such a resolution could ever harass gay people.

I have no idea who's right and who's wrong here, especially since there really are neighbors who complained about the noise but the number of complaints that didn't result in fines seems to be excessive. The Cottage says that they've been visited "daily" by code inspectors, although local news hasn't confirmed that. It's definitely unprofessional for Stanton to have joked with a resident about egging The Cottage since she really doesn't know he's not the sort to actually do it, but that doesn't prove that there's no noise. The Cottage says that some of the noise complaints came in on days that there wasn't live music, but a live band isn't necessary to be noisy.

It seems to be a good enough reason to get the city involved to investigate what's really going on. How many times have code inspectors been sent to The Cottage? How many noise complaints have been made? The Cottage claims that the noise complaints have come from only four individuals; the city should confirm whether that's true.

But the mayor says he isn't having it:

Mayor Rene Varela said he did not see a pattern of behavior against businesses owned by or catering to gays and lesbians in the city and accused The Cottage of "pulling out the gay card."

(The Vice Mayor also called the online campaign to get attention to this situation "cyber bullying" after the city got emails from as far away from Latvia. No, they didn't hear the noise from Latvia. But the next time gay people complain about the online trans mafia, just remember that we're capable of the same thing.)

The mayor, though, didn't have any harsh words for Stanton playing the trans card:

As for Stanton, she said off-camera that the allegations are untrue and in a memorandum to the city last month wrote this -- "Since coming to Lake Worth, I have focused all my efforts and energy on being an effective city manager. I have tried to keep my personal life ... personal. Unfortunately I also came to Lake Worth with a national profile that seems to invite such allegations and assaults to my professional reputation and integrity."

Local news has covered the situation and the protest that was held last night asking for a city investigation. They say that the sheriff's office has responded 15 times to noise complaints at The Cottage in the last three years, although the sheriff's office isn't the only law enforcement body in the town.

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Susan Stanton sounds...shall we say, interesting... I'll have to read the old posts now!

But as to the complaints about the bar: as you say, we'll have to wait and see what unfolds. But there is, as we all know, a long history of gay bars being routinely charged with noise violations and sometimes much sillier issues in an attempt to shut them down just because they're, well, gay. I'm reminded of the Dakota, a condo building in Chicago's boystown, which was built right next to a Circuit (I think I have the name right - it was a while back). The two, yes, two residents who tried to get Circuit shut down were eventually laughed out, as I remember (other Chicagoans with better memories should chip in here).

It is not really that hard of a concept that a trans person would be biased against other types of trans people or be homophobic. Marginilized people are capable of being self loathing or hateful to other marginilized groups or subsets of marginilized groups. How is that not a "duh" issue by this point?

The level of homophobia in the TS/TG communities especially among the heterosexual Cross Dressers is disgustingly high and an ill-kept secret.

As a post-transsexual lesbian I have experienced this homophobia in the past with people asking why I got SRS if I liked women to being told by Virginia Prince who coined the term transgender that I made a mistake in getting SRS.

Ask if Drag Queens are part of the all encompassing an erasing identity of transgender as umbrella and often the answer is no, but ask if heterosexual cross dressers are and the answer is yes.

I consider myself part ogf the Gay/Lesbian communities and not the transgender community in part due to the endemic homophobia.

Let's also not forget that there are trans women typified by Ms. Stanton who seem to both deny and erase their own trans history while looking down on "men in dresses"(if she did indeed say that).
There are also many CD's who know that GLBT venues are often the only places they have to go, so they become reluctant, but then often willing allies.
My complaint about the MTF side of our community(of which I am a part-I would ID myself as a pre/non op TS) is that most of the time we end up setting up a circular firing squad.
(cue HBS trolls in 5-4-3-2....)

Totally thought this said Susan SARANDON.

LOL. She's researching a role as a Florida city manager. Turns out being a city manager is harder than she thinks!

Jesse Monteagudo | April 7, 2011 9:09 AM

Tony Plakas wrote about Susan Stanton in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel yesterday. Plakas, a gay activist and CEO of Compass (the LGBT community center in the Palm Beaches) wrote that Stanton is her "own worst enemy" and "is losing another important popularity contest." In short, the next time Stanton is fired (which is more likely every day), there will no one left to support her.

She's just making friends everywhere she goes, isn't she?

janice josephine Carney | April 7, 2011 10:14 AM

Susan Stanton has a very long history of lying to mayors and city commissioners that she works for.
She has been known to deny making statements that she made to reporters with witness’s to the statement that are even on tape. She is infamous for her view that she is the only transgender woman that does not look like a man in a dress. Lastly she has yet to learn that she never was in the closet, and never will be. All transgender people even, those like Susan and me that have been though the whow surgery thing, still have a past in another gender that never goes away.

Does anyone know if she ever made a public apology for referring to her sisters as 'men in dresses' as well as throwing us under the bus about ENDA at the HRC? This is important to my brain right now. If she did apologize a realizes those were huge mistakes it would be easier for me to give her the benefit of the doubt for this latest disaster.

janice josephine carney | April 7, 2011 10:46 AM

Susan Stanton denied making the statement and called the St Petersburg times writer a liar, Lane Degragery who wrote the article had notes and a witness to the statement. She stood by her statements about leaving gender identity out of ENDA. She never apologized to me about the degrading remarks she made about me. I was the largo Transgender woman that went to her city manager’s office requesting a HRO for the city.

Janice, found out she didn't apologize for her previous transphobic comments as well.

I read somewhere that she was a right wing conservative (at least before her transition). Seeing some of the things she did in the past doesn't surprise me, I suppose.

I have no proof one way or the other of course, but I have no trouble whatsoever believing that Stanton said exactly what was attributed to her. She's already made quite clear in previous statements that she sees herself and her own transition as different from other transgender American experiences.

It's important to remember that Stanton has repeatedly shown herself to be an ideologically-driven Republican so it should surprise no one that she's still acting like one now that she's employed in an official capacity again.

Those perverted liberal transsexuals.

The day after some articles on this hit the web a transsexual friend called and asked if I wanted to drive over to Lake Worth and show support for the Cottage. I started doing some googling. Found out that evidently the restaurant was failing last year and changed to become a "gay" nightspot. I checked out their web site. It is technically inferior with poor or missing navigation and other amateurish flaws. Then I watched a web news video of the 12 or so protesters outside city hall. Next I see conducting an email campaign. OK I admit to having a healthy dose of cynicism but about then this is starting to have the odor of what I call piggyback marketing.

So, I continue monitoring. Found a local article that seems fairly sensible. Here is a link -->

I should mention that I have never met Susan in person but have exchanged a few emails through out the last 4 years. She has always impressed me as both intelligent and professional. What she is being accused of is neither professional nor intelligent which adds to my skepticism.

Anybody else remember the great toilet paper scare? Rumors emptied the store shelves and made huge money for a few speculators before people caught on that it was a hoax.

janice josephine carney | April 7, 2011 11:33 PM

The Susan Stanton story is no toilet paper hoax. I lived in Largo when she was the city manager, and I know the truth. She would never e mail or talk to a known transgender person since day one of her being outed. She was not terminated for being a transgender person she was terminated for unprofessional behavior. She decided not to go out the back door of city hall and go home to her son, but to make a public show of her personal life. That was not a intelligent decission. Dana as you said; you do not know Susan well I do. If you what to learn more let me know.

Janice I don't doubt your experiences with Susan might have been negative. Since I believe you and I have spoken in the past I may call you (if your number is unchanged). Your response basically calls me a liar and that I will challenge. Susan did and does maintain contact with some friends and a few are women with a history however you want to classify them. You are incorrect on that point and I am surprised you would make such a universal assertion without knowledge of who she corresponds with or has.

I guess my point in all this is that the Cottage has found a great inexpensive way to turn a neighborhood spat into a national news item. This surely has led to increased patronage even though it may not be a lasting boost. When all the furor dies down you will probably end up with a struggling restaurant, a few upset neighbors and a city manager who may or may not be Susan.

Did you read the article I linked to? It provides facts on the citation history of the Cottage that refute the claims being made by the restaurant.

janice josephine Carney | April 8, 2011 11:58 AM

My heart felt apology for calling you a Lair, I was out of line suggesting that I know who Susan calls or emails.I do stand by knowing for a fact on why she was terminated as city manager of Cleawater,, I read a couple stories from the local papers on the cottage,and I sew a news video. I stand by my statement that Susan has a history of making crude statements about other transgender people then denying ever making that statement. In realty though It is not my issue and I should just let the past go. I am back in New England enjoying a loving relationship with my family.
Also Mass is close to having hearings on adding transgender protections in there state law, I should focus on the here and now.

All my best to you Janice. I'm glad things are going well.