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Three weeks after it opened, the first lounge ever built in Kelowna specifically to make LGTBT2Q+ people feel welcome seems to be succeeding. Friends of Dorothy owner Rudy Tomazic said on weekend nights, there have been more customers than there is space inside.
There tend to be a few empty seats on weeknights, but weekend nights are packed. "We're actually exceeding what I expected it to do," said Tomazic. "Our first Friday night it was lined-up out the door," he said. "We only have up to 50 seats and we were exceeding that on a regular basis and turning people away, unfortunately."
There were a number of critical comments posted when KelownaNow reported on the opening of friends of Dorothy. For Tomazic, that's not surprising.
"I don't know what to say to that other than it's probably from lack of understanding," he said.
Tomazic said while the community at large is fairly accepting, two people of the same sex still can't really hold hands in most places without at least generating 'looks'. "What THIS does is give people that are of the same sex, couples can come to a place like this and hold hands and not generate 'looks'."
Inside the establishment, many of the clientele would identify as straight. "We have people that are of the LGBTQ+ community and we also have people that are married couples that come in, so we're not just getting people of this community," he said.
He always expected to see lots of male couples, but he's been pleasantly surprised at how many female couples have also been spending time at Friends of Dorothy. "That's a fact," said Tomazic. "There's a lot. There's a lot of diversity in this community that we haven't seen before that I've seen here first hand."
From his perspective, the place has been well accepted in its early days and with gratitude.
"Probably what they say the most is 'Thank you'," he added.