Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner last week wanted the city to consider adding requirements for businesses that host “adult cabaret shows,” but reversed course after the owner of a local venue he had in mind agreed to make its events less visible from outside.
Before changing his mind, Turner’s comments raised concerns from the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters, who worried that the discussion could encourage divisive reactions from some members of the public.
At the end of the June 7 city council meeting, Turner announced an agenda item for a future meeting that would include “a review of the entertainment permit license and address some of the concerns around the adult cabaret shows, or show” in order to require such events to be “screened from public view so that children under age…18 would not have view of those from public places.”
Earlier in the meeting, the council unanimously voted to declare June as Pride Month in Morgan Hill.
Although Turner didn’t mention any businesses by name, he later clarified that he was referring to Chacho’s restaurant in downtown Morgan Hill. The restaurant and bar hosts an occasional drag brunch event, charging attendees $25 per person to attend.
Turner told the Times that he had been contacted by some local residents who were concerned that non-paying passersby, including children, could view recent drag shows from outside Chacho’s—which is located in an area that is often the scene of other busy public events such as the farmers’ market, Sidewalk Saturdays and others. He added that he felt a “reasonable discussion” about the issue could take place.
However, Turner said by June 13 he had spoken with the owner of Chacho’s, who agreed to ensure the events are screened from the public outside. “(We) came to an agreement that will be satisfactory for everyone,” Turner said in response to questions emailed from the Times. “The owner of Chacho’s was gracious and understanding and wants to continue doing what he can to be a good neighbor. I’m grateful for his efforts and appreciate his understanding.”
Thus, Turner has decided not to introduce the topic as an agenda item at a future city council meeting.
City Councilmember Rene Spring, who is Morgan Hill’s first openly gay councilmember, spoke out against Turner’s request and its potential implications. Spring on June 10 posted a lengthy “open letter” on social media in which he said he was “disappointed, hurt and saddened” by Turner’s comments at the June 7 meeting.
However, Spring is satisfied that the mayor has changed his mind about continuing the discussion at a future council meeting.
“I consider this issue resolved with the mayor rescinding his request yesterday, which I appreciate,” Spring said Wednesday. “Thank you to all who spoke up in support of our LGBTQIA+ community! Let’s go back to celebrating Pride Month!”
Spring added in an update to his social media post that Turner ultimately chose “the right thing to do.” The update added, “In moments like these, our local LGBTQIA+ community is well aware of who is with us, who remains quiet, and who keeps throwing stones at us. While we might strongly disagree on some issues, I ask everyone to refrain from name calling and using ugly terms! Let’s keep the discussions decent!”
Spring’s initial comments included a defense of drag shows and similar entertainment, noting that such events are typically not imposed on unwitting spectators and are not always adult-themed or sexual in nature.
“These drag shows are a form of entertainment performed by drag artists impersonating men or women, lip-synching and dancing to great music with stand-up comedy and simple fun! Some of the shows tailor to adults only, others are story-telling events perfectly suitable for kids, too,” Spring wrote.
The Times was unable to contact the owner of Chacho’s restaurant before this newspaper went to print.