Luxury hotel backtracks after launching Marsha P Johnson cocktail to mark Pride week – for capitalism and capitalism only

A cocktail by a luxury hotel in England named after Marsha P Johnson became a lightning rod for criticism. (Instagram/Netflix)

A luxury hotel in Manchester, England, weathered intense criticism after it launched a cocktail named after Stonewall legend Marsha P Johnson in which none of the profits would go to local LGBT+ charities or Pride organisers.

In a deleted Instagram post, Hotel Brooklyn, only minutes away from the city’s midtown queer village, announced on Wednesday (26 August) the release of the “Marsha P Johnson cocktail” on what they said, “would have been Manchester gay Pride week.”

Ah, yes, the famous “gay Pride week”.

The hotel quickly took a drubbing online, with many LGBT+ social media users accusing the business of profiting from the continued struggles of the community.

Hotel Brooklyn heads sought to stress to PinkNews that this was not the company’s intention, and have since backtracked and will now donate all proceeds from the drink to a charity.

They said they will cooperate with local queer leaders to find the best charity to donate to.

LGBT+ community shaken and stirred by Marsha P Johnson cocktail. 

“What a woman!” Hotel Brooklyn’s post read, listing the historic impact Johnson has had as a vanguard of LGBT+ rights. The hotel unveiled a cocktail dotted with flowers as a homage to the activist’s tendency to bedeck her hair with flowers.

The Pride weekend physical event may be cancelled, but we celebrate LGBT+ life and equality every day at Brooklyn!” the caption continued. “If you are passing by, pop in and toast to Marsha with us…”

Jones privately messaged the hotel to ask what queer causes, if any, the hotel would be donating to. Their response left him stung, which he described as “extremely defensive”.

Hotel Brooklyn’s reply, according to screenshots, clarified that, no, it’s “not a Pride cocktail, it’s a ‘Marsha P. Johnson’ cocktail.

“We didn’t allude to donating to a charity in this instance, so not sure if you read the post correctly”.

The responder stressed that the hotel is dedicated to “promoting inclusivity” and is planning to “give back to communities and charities important to us in a really meaningful way” as it reopens, having shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Would you like us to add you to our newsletter so we can keep you informed?”

“Instead of taking a step back and questioning ‘should we be donating?’ they decided to patronise me by asking if I had misread the post,” Jones said.

“The tone of the message seemed extremely belittling, trying to make me look bad for calling them out.”

Not surprising, he added. “The rainbow flag and LGBT+ imagery is not a marketing ploy to make sales. Back it up with real action to make real change for those you are profiting off.”

Hotel Brooklyn backtracks after being blasted, will now donate ‘all proceeds’ of cocktail to LGBT+ charities. 

As the backlash bubbled, general manager Paul Bayliss told PinkNews on Wednesday night (26 August): “I think people have got the wrong story here as this was an attempt by the team to raise the profile of the difficulties of transexual [sic] people in this day and age.”

Bayliss said that he and the team “took a view to hold back and see [how many cocktails would sell] and then make a donation that shows our commitment”.

“We are speaking to all of the gay community at present,” noting that during Pride weekend, Gaydio, a dedicated LGBT+ radio station, will be set as the default station in all hotel rooms.

He continued: “You actually have a massive supporter of gay Pride in Hotel Brooklyn as it serves us no purpose to be otherwise.

“Will we sell any of the cocktails and make a direct contribution from it, no, because it won’t be enough, but please, we’re not profiteering but supporting.”

In an Instagram statement issued Thursday (27 August), the hotel confirmed that: “All proceeds from the cocktail itself will be made to an appropriate LGBTQ+ charity.

“Please allow us to apologise for where we have caused offence with our Marsha P.Johnson cocktail, as it was never our intention.”