Would you support a business owned by a queer person who once endorsed a homophobic politician?

Would you support a business owned by a queer person who once endorsed a homophobic politician?

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Ian Reisner
Ian Reisner (center) with the Warwick Rowers at the Out NYC Hotel in 2014

Queer tourists will soon have a new place to sleep in NYC as there’s a trendy gay-friendly hotel coming to Hell’s Kitchen, but it comes with a very controversial anti-LGBTQ+ history.

The property at 510 W. 42nd Street was previously the site of the hetero hotspot known as the Playboy Club, which shuttered in 2019, and, most recently, the 103-room Cachet Boutique Hotel NYC.

Gay real estate developer and hotelier Ian Reisner, who is a managing partner at Parkview Developers, signed a lease to transform the space into a renovated hotel, 7,500 square-foot restaurant and a 14,000 square-foot dance club with a basement mixology bar, reported the New York Post.

“It’s a gay hotel where straight friends and family are welcome too,” Reisner, 55, told the outlet. “It’s a reorientation, and a kind of play on words.”

This is also a second act for Reisner who is no stranger to LGBTQ-friendly spaces as he previously co-founded the Out NYC Hotel in the same location in 2012. The Out NYC also housed the restaurant KTCHN and the gay club XL.

The Out NYC HOtel
credit: GayCities

Reisner also purchased a bulk of the commercial businesses in the gay beachside mecca of Fire Island Pines, including two restaurants, the Pavilion night club, a pool deck, and boat docks.

By 2015, Reisner was running a large chunk of queer spaces for gays in the New York area. And then it all blew up in his face.

In April 2015, Reisner and his partner Mati Weiderpass hosted a dinner at their NYC penthouse for proud anti-LGBTQ+ Senator Ted Cruz, who was running to be the GOP presidential candidate at the time. In addition to breaking bread with the proud homophobe, Reisner donated $2,700 to his campaign.

Around the same time, Reisner hosted a private fundraiser for Republican Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and also donated $2,700 to his senate re-election campaign.

Reisner’s support for the anti-gay politicians, who were vehemently against same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land, caused an uproar in the queer community. As expected, Reisner was inundated with tons of bad press, swift backlash and calls to boycott all of his businesses.

At the time, Reisner claimed to have not been aware of the politicians’ anti-LGBTQ+ stances.

A Facebook apology followed, where Reisner wrote: “I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry.”

But the damage was done. In 2016, the Out Hotel was sold for $40 million to Merchants Hospitality, which no longer planned for the property to service a strictly gay clientele.

Reisner’s Fire Island holdings haven’t fared much better as his company, Outpost Pines, filed for bankruptcy in 2023 and put the properties up for sale for $17.2 million, per The Real Deal.

Now while most of Reisner’s political drama occurred prior to the onslaught of the MAGA era, it appears he has not been a financial supporter of the disgraced ex-president. (It’s unclear if he’s been a vocal proponent as his social media is set to private.)

Since the Ted Cruz backlash, Reisner has made three political donations all to Democrats. He gave $2,700 to Hillary Clinton in 2015, $1,000 to Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018, and $500 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2023, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Reisner’s new gay-friendly NYC hotel isn’t set to open until September and will operate as an Airbnb until then.

However, it begs the question: After everything, does Reisner deserve a second third fourth chance? Would you support a business owned by a queer person who previously voiced support for a homophobic politician? Let us know what you think!


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