A Facebook page called “Down with the new Fieldens” had swollen to 544 fans by Monday — a number nearly equal to membership at the after-hours club on Broad Street and roughly five times its average weekend attendance.
The group is dismayed that Frazier Boyd, owner of the Paper Moon strip clubs and part owner in the company that assumed management of Fieldens last week, appears to be repositioning the club away from its traditionally lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual orientation. In other words: going straight.
Not without a fight. Amid heavy police presence, about 40 protesters marched down Broad Street from Nations, a bar several blocks west, to Fieldens just before midnight on Saturday, assailing the new ownership. With banners declaring human-rights infringement and anti-hate and pro-gay messages, protestors drew honks from passing cars and cheers from other bars along the strip.
Those protesting the Fieldens shakeup online have raised questions about the club's tax identification as a nonprofit social club and whether the club's members should have a say in the operations. Fieldens' attorney, Michael Lafayette, says bylaws narrow the members' procedural rights to electing the board of directors at an annual meeting in January.
Former Fieldens board member and Richmond Triangle Players president Mike Gooding laments that during the past five years the club “has deteriorated as far as the look and the cleanliness.” Gooding says former general manager Mike Love worked hard to keep up the place and doesn't fault the club's management. “But there's no doubt about it,” he says — “it's no longer a pro-gay operation and they probably will be a little stricter on certain kinds of dress and activities.”
Lafayette says that while Fieldens may be going after a broader audience, the needs-a-drink-at-4:30 a.m. demographic, it's still pro-gay. Although much consternation was raised when the new management removed reference of the LGBT community from the mission statement posted online, Lafayette says he updated the club's legal documentation to reflect that “the mission is to have a cultural social club” without discrimination on race or religion, “and have specifically added sexual orientation even though it is not a protected class under Virginia law.”