Lesbian Alleges Work Harassmen for Changing Name to Honor Doris Day
A lesbian bartender who worked at a hip pub in East London claims that she was the victim of homophobic harassment, the (U.K.) Daily Mail reports.
Clancey Von Kappelhoff-Day had added the "Day" to her name to honor her role model, American actress and singer Doris Day (born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff), told an employment tribunal that she was physically and verbally assaulted by upper management while working at the trendy Commercial Tavern in East London.
She claims that the bar’s owner, Michael Burgess, and the bar’s manager, Maria Bather, constantly harassed her between July and October of last year. The two deny the allegations.
"With my sexuality mostly it was Michael Burgess," Von Kappelhoff-Day said during the pre-hearing review. "He occasionally used the word ’lezza.’ More often he would discuss my sexuality with customers in the bar and tell them I was his lesbian girlfriend and discuss lesbian sexual acts."
She said that Burgess attacked her because of her orientation and that she "experienced more discrimination than other females." Additionally, Von Kappelhoff-Day claimed that the owner also inappropriately touched women at the bar and even asked them to perform sexual acts.
The alleged victim added that Bather, who was in a relationship with Burgess, had a part in the anti-gay harassment and even invited Von Kappelhoff-Day to gay orgies.
At one point, Von Kappelhoff-Day, who says she is bi-polar, alleges that Burgess pushed her down the bar’s stairs after accusing her that she was having an affair with Bather. Then things apparently even got worse for the bartender.
Soon after the violent incident, Von Kappelhoff-Day said Bather went to her home and threatened her with a hammer. In addition to the physical abuse and threats, Von Kappelhoff-Day says she was called a "mentalist" and was not allowed to go on breaks.
Harriet Davies represents Brimheath Developments, which owns the pub, and said the bartender’s claims were "bordering on fanciful" and that the owners of the establishment were surprised by the "extreme allegations."
"To a certain extent it was clear that the claimant was making things up as she went along," Davies said. "She was unspecific about things. These allegations are bordering on fanciful." Burgess and Bather both deny the Von Kappelhoff-Day’s claims. Davies pointed out that police dropped charges related to the hammer incident.
Von Kappelhoff-Day is suing Burgess and Brimheath Developments, which also owns a gay bar, for sex and disability discrimination, decimation based on sexual orientation, and breach of contract. The case will be heard in January.
Doris Day, who is herself heterosexual, has been a lesbian icon for decades.
Day, who came to fame as a big band singer in the 1940s, hit Hollywood in the earl 1950s with a series of popular musicals. In "Calamity Jane," a film biography of the legendary Wild West personality, she dressed in jeans and played a "tomboy" role.
In that film, she sings an Oscar-winning song, "Secret Love" (about unrequited passion for co-star Howard Kheel). It immediately became an anthem for lesbians in the 1950s. The song was covered by k.d. lang for "The Celluloid Closet," the documentary about gay and lesbian portrayals during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Day’s performance was discussed in the film.
A decade later, Day made a series of risqué sex comedies that co-starred closeted hunk Rock Hudson. A public appearance with Hudson in 1985 became the first time the public realized that something was very wrong with Hudson. Although he would remain secretive about his AIDS diagnosis until near the end of his life, his haggard appearance and incoherent speech was shown over and over again on national television and sparked rumors that led to his retreat from public life.
Day herself has retreated from the public eye. She devotes herself to animal welfare. She has also been quietly supportive of various AIDS charities.
Watch La Day perform the song that sparked a million cocktails here: