Protesters gather outside embattled Cliffton bar in Patchogue


People by the dozens streamed in and out of Patchogue Friday evening for a protest outside a local bar called The Cliffton in a fight against transphobia across Long Island.

The bar’s ownership and management had set off a firestorm over social media this week over an Instagram post ridiculing a transgender patron — complete with a photo of her and another patron:

The original Instagram post didn’t have the faces blocked out.

After that post went locally viral, some other offensive posts by The Cliffton were also shared around social media.

“This place is stuck in the 1950s; it is something from yesterday,” complained Patchogue resident Peter Cotter, who attended the rally, which started at 7 p.m. and ran all the way to 11 p.m.

Protesters stationed themselves outside the neighboring Tiffany Apartment complex on Maple Avenue.

“I organized this for families who are looking for hope,” said Annie Manildoo.

Brian Neal, the bar’s owner, took ownership of the controversial post that he later deleted.

“The post that we shared was 100 percent inappropriate,” Neal told GreaterPatchogue. “I try to be as different as possible, unfortunately, in this instance I made a mistake and it was completely uncalled for. I don’t hate … people. I never have and I never will.”

He also said he would be donating 100 percent of the night’s proceeds to Alive After Five’s LGBTQ pride-themed festival planned for June 27.

Still, some questioned the sincerity of the apologies, as the bar was giving away “#F–TheCliffton” shirts and signs.

“It sends us a message that they think this is a joke,” said Manildoo.

“We are here to show that hate is still going on,” said protester Travis Reichel, of Riverhead. “Hopefully in 50 years from now, we won’t have to be doing things like this.”

Top: Peaceful protest against transphobia outside of The Cliffton in Patchogue.