The owner of popular LGBT Atlanta bar Burkhart’s is facing a torrent of criticism over Facebook posts from his account referring to former President Barack Obama by a racial slur among other controversial statements. The bar’s general manager has now come forward to respond, and a public meeting has been organized to address the incident.

Screenshots of the posts from the account of Burkhart’s owner Palmer Marsh have been circulating on social media since Friday afternoon, one of them undated and the other from 2015 and still live on Marsh’s feed (click to enlarge).











Georgia Voice also found the following post from a similar time period.

Marsh has not responded to requests for comment on the issue, but Burkhart’s General Manager Don Hunnewell issued a statement exclusively to Georgia Voice in which he sticks up for the bar’s employees, talks about his intentions to leave his position and offers to pass along any offers to purchase the bar.

Hunnewell’s statement follows:

As general manager of Burkhart’s, I will honor my employment contract and personal commitment to overseeing the day to day operations of Burkhart’s.

Burkhart’s staff, entertainers, cleaning and maintenance crews have served Burkhart’s with dedication and hard work for many years and these 50 plus souls often live tip jar to tip jar. Yesterday it took everything I had to soldier on and not terminate my employment agreement.

As general manager, my first obligation is to maintain and care for the hard-working staff who have dedicated many years to serving a huge loyal customer base that have become very close to the staff from years of pouring not just drinks, but pouring from theirs hearts.

The awesome staff I have the privilege to lead each day deserve so much better. It’s because of this dedicated staff that I too must soldier on today.

I have an immediate obligation to those dedicated souls and once their lives are stabilized I will seek new opportunities. In the meantime, I will maintain the daily operations and will happily deliver any and all purchase offers. Palmer and Mary Marsh have been retired since I arrived as GM and have had no active participation in the operations. I am honored to have such a high level of complete trust, but this is not what I signed up for.

I am proud of the Burkhart’s team and the loyal patrons. I will now pack for a much needed vacation that was planned months ago.

Meanwhile, LGBT activist group ATL Activate is hosting a public meeting about the issue on Jan. 27 at Old Fourth Ward event space Illuminarium. The group was formed in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election.

“Please invite anyone who cares to face hate or discrimination in our ATL LGBT community head on,” the invitation reads. “We should all be united in our concern, our sadness and our resolve to make things right as a welcoming, loving and accepting group of people.”

Blake’s on the Park, another popular LGBT Atlanta bar, faced similar accusations of racism in July 2015 after posting a controversial dress code sign.

The Burkhart’s incident is the latest LGBT Atlanta nightlife story to hit the headlines after last November’s closing of dance club Jungle and the impending closing of Midtown Atlanta restaurant Cowtippers.

Meanwhile, Midtown residents are allegedly harassing LGBT bars Blake’s on the Park, TEN and My Sister’s Room, lodging numerous noise complaints that led to the creation of a group called I Am Midtown and public statements from the Atlanta Police Department and the office of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

32 Responses

  1. Daniel English

    I have one word for the number of white gays supporting Burkhart’s racist Trump supporting owners: Complicit!

    • Charlie Watson

      Absolutely. I cannot agree more. What’s equally as interesting to me is that this general manager of Burkhart’s has been close friends with the owner for many, many years (see the owner’s Facebook page) and that he has his own history of chasing patrons he deemed “undesirable” up Cypress Street with a gun when he owned the Gallus. Institutional racism is absolutely part of much of gay business, sadly.

  2. Art

    This is one of the main reason I don’t venture to the gays clubs in Atlanta. Why would anyone, namely people of color, want to go somewhere & pay their money were they are welcome. I mean that Green is welcome but no the person with the money.
    But as always……………..Atlanta is the Mecca of the South.
    Yea right. Can’t wait to get the hell out of this city. b

  3. THOTpolice

    I think what we’re beginning to realize is that we need some new gay spaces that are run by actual LGBT people. How many gay bars in Atlanta are actually run by sexual minorities? Not many come to mind. Send racist Trump Train couple on their way, and open up some new gay spaces to absorb the jobs of Burks, Jungle, Cowtippers and others. Ten opened up in 2012 after Outwrite closed and people were starting to give up on Midtown. Ten has become one of the most successful gay bars in Atlanta and its “new”. Complacency is the only thing keeping open so many of the gay bars in Atlanta. We can and should do so much better. Also, can we get a Steamworks here or some actual bathhouse? Flex and Manifest are so pathetic compared to those in other cities. Atlanta could be so much better but complacency is our MO.

  4. Hotlanta Mom

    Staff, get your ducks in a row because nce business drops (and it will), the jerk owner will send you walking, and will not give you your last paycheck. Watch this man, he will close this bar, and reopen under an LLC and will continue to post his racist crap. Local activists, watch this man, he will just reinvent himself under “Diversity Inc, LLC……

  5. Rion

    I think I’ve seen enough to know that the relationship between White and Black LGBT is one of the worse hidden secrets. It seems to me that at least once per year something happens that shows the racism in the Atlanta mostly White LGBT community. I’m sickened by it.

  6. Jamon Macon

    Isn’t Hunnewell the one who hangs out with younger boys and looks like he’s wearing eye liner? Seen her at Ansley Starbuck’s a lot, LOL.

  7. Daniel

    I’m not surprised by gay racism. It’s beyond me that gay men can align themselves with such hate and disgusting attitudes. I would hope that gay men would have greater compassion and wisdom for all oppressed people. However, I am getting a picture of the gay-gene as being somewhat self-absorbed and only concerned about their oppression. Guys, get over yourselves! We are all oppressed and need to stick together!

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