My name is Gary Baglio. I am proud to own FIVE15 Media Mojo and More and to have created Metro Detroit’s long running phenomenon, ‘Drag Queen Bingo’ Comedy Show. I write not as a gay man, but from the perspective of a businessman and the President of the Royal Oak Retailers Association.
I wish to outline why Royal Oak’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) must remain in place.
Among the many hats that I wear, I hold a seat on the recently formed Downtown Royal Oak Task Force. Its primary charge is to identify problems with our Downtown and craft solutions. We have met several times and spent long hours brainstorming, and have identified two major shortfalls our downtown suffers. Number 1: Declining Retail, and Number 2: Lack of Commercial Office Space.
In an effort to attract corporations and businesses to locate their offices in our downtown we must roll out the red carpet and put on our best face. Non-discrimination policies, benefits and other practices that include LGBT workers are essential for U.S. businesses as they compete for talent and customers. If we want to attract the Google’s and IBM’s of the world to locate offices in downtown Royal Oak then we must adjust our policies to be accommodating, otherwise they will do as some already have and establish in neighboring cities like Ann Arbor, Birmingham or Detroit. Places that have long ago put these policies in place.
In just the last three months, we have lost no less than five long-time retailers in our downtown. Two of the vacant spaces are tentatively converting to food and beverage establishments. Several more are on the cusp. We must strive for the perfect equation of office space, which then feeds retail and of course contributes to a lively lunch crowd, which many of our local restaurants currently do not enjoy.
Keeping the HRO in place is one small, but important tool in bringing our downtown to a healthy, vibrant blend. It is for this reason I ask you to vote in favor of keeping the human rights ordinance in place.
I have been asked “Are these protections necessary?” “Do these discriminations still exist in Royal Oak today?”
I’m sad to report first hand, yes, they most certainly do.
In the seven years since my store has opened, I have faced derogatory graffiti on my windows (at one point almost daily), smashed windows, kicked in panels on my side-walk café and most disturbing, repeated defecation on my back door stoop. Additionally, false Police calls, false health department reports, calls and letters to city hall, are just some of the numerous hurdles that we have endured.
The anonymity of the Internet has also provided a forum for those misguided, to further their lack of understanding. Some of the hateful things folks write when their name is not attached are truly eye opening, and in my opinion, cowardly. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
I could go on about all my experiences with discrimination and bullying and all of the reasons why you should feel sorry for me. Over the years I have developed thick skin.
It has been my experience that people tend to shun what they don’t understand, however, I take great comfort in knowing that segment of the population is growing smaller and smaller at record speed. I predict this ordinance will remain in place by a vote of the people of Royal Oak. As a businessman and someone who is working diligently to create a vibrant showcase downtown, I pray it passes overwhelmingly.
Click the following link for a listing of companies that include Non-discrimination policies, benefits and other practices of inclusion:
Click the following link for a guide that assist your company to include Non-discrimination policies, benefits and other practices of inclusion: