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Chicago LGBT bar bans, then reinstates rap music after bad public reactions

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A Chicago bar left social media jaws agape after it announced that rap music would no longer be allowed to play at the venue. But club management changed their minds after social media criticized the move as racist. 

The Progress Bar, an LGBT establishment located in Boystown, sent out a threatening email on Wednesday saying rap music was henceforth banned from the club.

“This is not a suggestion!! If you play RAP you will not be asked back,” it read. 

The message was intercepted then posted online to a bevy of criticism and in response Progress doubled down on their proclamation in a separate statement:

“Progress ownership wants to make it VERY clear that EVERYONE IS WELCOME HERE!!!” according to the statement. “We have no ill intentions here. That can not be stressed enough. … We are still going to play hiphop, please don’t read too much into this.”

That statement proved to be kindling to an already heated debate, some social media subscribers saying the bar was racist and polarizing.

“I already don’t go to Boystown as it is because of how it caters to the white gays, but Progress Bar was one of the few places that most of us [people of color] could hang out at,” another person tweeted. “It’s sad that even in a neighborhood designated to all gays, they try and push the black ones out.”

Eventually, the bar regrouped and owner Justin Romme issued an apology

“The email issued [Wednesday] did not reflect the values of Progress Bar,” Romme wrote. “The content was unwelcoming and hurtful, and in retrospect, it should have never been written or sent. We seek to be a trusted member of the LGBTQ+ community and in the City of Chicago as a welcoming place for every person no matter their race, creed or sexual orientation. We sincerely apologize to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community and across Chicago for the hurt this message caused.”

Romme closed the bar on Thursday in order to "heal the pain," but he added that upon resuming business, the bar would celebrate diversity. 

“When we reopen, we will do so with a renewed commitment to create a space whose patronage, atmosphere, and — yes — music reflects the diversity of our community,” wrote Romme.