When it was announced that the newest season of Netflix’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was going to be filming in Philadelphia, the show’s many local fans were, in a word, twitterpated. It’s not just that the show, which is based around the premise of well-coiffed and meticulous gay men helping to rehab the sad lives of wayward straights, has become a major positive beacon of light for LGBT representation in the mainstream, but also the fact that the show’s cast – known as the “Fab Five” – are each iconic in their own way. Personally, I’m a Jonathan kind of girl.
But now, a scandal has tarnished the excitement that Philadelphia has collectively enjoyed at the prospect of being in the international limelight. A Center City Old Navy store, located on the edge of the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, allegedly brought in white employees from other ON locations around the area to stand in for the Center City’s primarily PoC staff. Both Netflix and the production company associated with Queer Eye have renounced any attachment with the decision, in which Black and Hispanic employees were shooed to the back of the store and out of sight of the camera while the white replacements were filmed assisting the cast.
The rumors started when an anonymous Center City Old Navy employee took to social media to vent about the treatment of themselves and their coworkers, revealing that the whole staff had been working extra shifts ’round the clock for the week approaching the filming date to make the store look even more clean and appealing than normally expected. Areas of the store were painted, employees were instructed to tuck price tags into the sleeves of tops and fold displays a certain way, and there was a great deal of excitement for the big event.
There has been no firm confirmation of who was responsible for the decision to bring in the employees, and Old Navy has not commented on the situation thus far. Obviously rumors are just rumors, but if things happened the way claimed, it would personally affect my decision to shop at Old Navy in the future, no matter how cheap and cute their athleisure line happens to be.