Letter to James Baldwin, District of Columbia Office of Human Rights re: Interco T/A The Grand Central, 900 First Street SE, Class C Restaurant

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Mr. James Baldwin, Executive Director
District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

RE: Interco T/A The Grand Central 900 First Street SE Washington DC Class C Restaurant ABC License Ho. 1127U

The District Building
l4th and E Streets NW, Washington DC 20003

Dear Mr. Baldwin:

Members of the Gay Activists Alliance have become increasingly aware in recent months of certain deeply troubling policies and behavior of the owners and staff of the above-referenced gay restaurant.

We believe the practices witnessed are inimicable to the best interests of the gay community of Washington—as well as to the city of Washington at large—and they give every appearance of violating the law.

I refer to the persistent policy this restaurant seems to have of discriminating against blacks through the subterfuge of regularly and unreasonably asking them for age identification at the door, while whites are asked for identification only rarely. Blacks are often asked for two "valid" IDs, both
with picture and birth date. We are told that heterosexuals also are discouraged from entering in the same way. The management's purpose appears to be to cultivate a favored and more lucrative clientele of white gay males.
We are told that in their attempts to enforce this policy, Grand Central employees insult and threaten those who protest. It is reported they will occasionally brandish baseball bats at complainants and that they tell whites to
go around to a side door while dozens of blacks await admittance, "because there are too many niggers in here."
Grand Central's behavior appears to be in flagrant violation of the DC Title 34 Human Rights Law, which outlaws discrimination in public accommodation: on the basis of race, sex and sexual orientation, as well as the DC Title 3 -Alcoholic Control Board regulations (Section 311), which prohibits demanding identification for admittance to a restaurant.

We believe gay people cannot hope to end anti-homosexual discrimination while racial discrimination remains institutionalized in our own gay community.

The Grand Central is not the only gay establishment which has offended in this fashion, but its insolent misbehavior is now too persistent, defiant, violent and immoral to ignore.




Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. and Ware, Cade, “Letter to James Baldwin, District of Columbia Office of Human Rights re: Interco T/A The Grand Central, 900 First Street SE, Class C Restaurant,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed May 30, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/706.

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