West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 5 | July 4 - 10, 2007

Villager photo by Elisabeth Robert

Khadijah Farmer

Eatery is shamed by ejecting a lesbian after Pride

By Albert Amateau

Khadijah Farmer, 27, and her friends stood in front of Caliente Cab Co. Mexican cafe in the Village on Monday morning to talk about how she was ejected from the women’s room in the cafe on the night after the Gay Pride March.

With her girlfriend, her parents and the attorney for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund at her side, Farmer told about going to a post-march dinner about 10:30 p.m. on June 24 at the crowded cafe on Seventh Ave. S. at Bleecker St. with two friends.

After the appetizers, Farmer excused herself, went to the women’s room and after a few minutes was startled when a male bouncer burst into the bathroom, banged on the stall door and shouted that a customer complained there was a man in the women’s room, she recalled.

“I told him I was a woman and I was where I was supposed to be,” Farmer recounted. “I asked him to wait a minute and I’d show him my ID. But when I came out he said he didn’t want to see anything and kept yelling at me to get out of the ladies’ room and out of the restaurant.”

Farmer, a black woman whose hair is cropped very close and who wears men’s clothes, might upon first glance be mistaken for a man, but her well-modulated speaking voice is unmistakably a woman’s. She is a manager of a residence for people with disabilities.

She said she was humiliated when she and her two friends were then ordered to pay their tab and leave the premises, but she acknowledged that the bouncer did not touch her.

“It’s inconceivable that it could happen in the heart of Greenwich Village,” she said.

Joelle Evans, Farmer’s longtime girlfriend, said she had asked to speak to the manager but was told that the bouncer was acting as the manager that night. Neither knew the manager’s name.

Michael Silverman, executive director of Transgender Legal Defense, noted that the cafe was flying the rainbow flag on the evening after the Gay Pride March.

“The extremity of the response to Ms. Farmer is surprising given the signal that the gay and lesbian community was welcome to the cafe,” Silverman said.

He said he got a phone call last week from Randye Bernfeld, a lawyer representing Caliente Cab Co., which has two other Manhattan locations, one at Waverly and Greene Sts. and the other at E. 33rd St. and Third Ave. He told Bernfeld that T.G.L.D.E.F. demanded three things from Caliente Cab Co. — to adopt and enforce a policy barring discrimination in its restaurants on the basis of gender identity and expression and sexual orientation; to train its staff to comply with this policy and all applicable laws protecting the rights of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender customers in public accommodations, such as Caliente Cab Co.; and to compensate Farmer for the violation of her civil rights.

Silverman said Bernfeld refused the demand and declined to speak about the matter further. Silverman declined to say how much Farmer wanted as compensation for the civil rights violation.

A manager at the cafe on Monday morning who identified himself as Alfredo said he was not present at the incident and referred all questions to Dominick Cappola, an executive of the chain. Neither Cappola nor Bernfeld responded by press time to phone calls from The Villager.

Farmer’s mother and father, Aliyah and John Farmer, stood by their daughter at the July 2 rally.

“We’ve known she was a lesbian since she was 13,” said her mother. “I love her unconditionally, like I love my three sons.”

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