Lost Lake
Lost Lake Lester Black

As a survivor of sexual assault (and a person with moral decency), I would never choose to support an establishment owned by an accused rapist. Further, I would never fault anyone for doing the same.

As a trans woman with zero savings and limited job opportunities, I was devastated when KUOW published Sydney Brownstone's piece on Dave Meinert.

Reading survivors’ accounts alone made my chest tighten. Realizing I have given 18 months of my sweat equity at Lost Lake to line the coffers of someone who has allegedly violated numerous women brought me to tears.

The cherry on top was the immediate response of our knee-jerk, call-out culture. Before any of us (employees especially, but also Meinert’s business partners) had time to react, internet posts and paper flyers were everywhere.

Many, including those I call friends and acquaintances, want to make it clear that supporting Guild establishments (Lost Lake, Comet, Grimm’s) is supporting rape. Some even went so far as to say anyone still working there is choosing to support an accused rapist.

Not even a week has passed, and many in my community seem to expect me to be fine without income, or to already have new work lined up. Though no one told me to write this, and it certainly hasn't been cleared by Meinert, I want this community to know: these expectations are beyond harmful.

Who do you think is more impacted by an immediate boycott—the rich guy who has been running the Hill for two decades, or the employee who depends on tips to barely afford HRT and rent without a boycott in effect?

While the rest of us are trying to keep our heads from spinning off, Meinert has stepped away from all Guild operations. While I hope he is figuring out how he will begin reparations, I know he isn’t worried about choosing between groceries and rent.

Boycotting Lost Lake won’t change that. It does, however, leave me feeling completely forgotten and abandoned.

Monday was my first day back. The difference was profound. Many of my favorite, intersectional patrons were missing. In addition to making significantly less money than I need to survive, I was left with the ignorant, apathetic, and apologists.

The first conversation I overheard that morning was between two cis men. They agreed with one another that these women lacked credibility due to the lack of filed charges. They agreed that Meinert "is a good guy."

While the remaining leadership would have had my back 100%, I did not kick them out. They were two-thirds of my patrons at the time. I needed their money. I stayed silent and thought of how I never came forward to press charges against my rapists. I stared at the ceiling to keep tears from falling.

Since this news has dropped, one of my other employers, Joey Burgess (who believes consent starts with an explicit "yes"), has offered to provide counseling services for all employees affected by current events. The remaining owners and directors of operations have been doing everything in their power to begin the long, difficult process of making things right, and changing nightlife culture. Doing serious work to not allow men in positions of power to take advantage of others.

Please, for my sake, and the sake of my work family (many of whom do not have the financial nor temporal luxuries to walk away); give us a chance to survive, plan, and heal.

Still, I cannot fault anyone for boycotting. I know the intentions are good. Those intentions, however, run the risk of paving a hellish road for me and others to travel upon.

Hannah Keithly works as a bartender at Lost Lake.