30 Drag Queens Quit Atlanta Bar After Owner’s Racist Comments Surface

"Working here was a losing battle," says Burkhart's performer Shavonna Brooks.

More than two dozen performers are refusing to work at Burkhart’s, a popular gar bar in Atlanta, after racist posts owner Parker Marsh wrote were uncovered on Facebook.

In various updates Marsh referred to then-President Barack Obama a “stupid n*gger” and suggested America would be better off if the Confederacy won the Civil War.

Palmer Marsh

Burkhart’s opened more than 20 years ago on Piedmont Avenue and is a popular destination for drag shows. Performers say they’d long suffered Marsh’s racist attitudes but felt they had no choice if they wanted to work. “Working here was a losing battle,” Shavonna Brooks told Atlanta’s WXIA-11. “We were always backed up against a corner. That why we didn’t do anything immediately.”

After Marsh’s post became news last week, business dipped precipitously and the backlash started to be pointed at the queens, many of whom are people of color.

“That was one of the reasons we decided to walk up out of there,” says Shavonna’s drag sister, Destiny Brooks [We want to be] where we’re appreciated, where we’re respected and not taken for granted.”

General manager Don Hunnewel says the Marshes “have had no active participation in the operations” of the bar for years. According to WXIA, the bar was sold to new owners this week, though it’s not clear how the sale with impact the walkout.

At a community meeting today, the queens hoped to address not just racism, but fair pay and equality. Said Destiny, “the purpose of our meeting is really [to figure out] how we’re going to make the city better.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.