Netflix ‘Queer Eye’ dance teacher Terri White is being followed by allegations of racism and homophobia

Everyone’s favorite feel-good reality show Strange eye returned on New Years Eve for its sixth season, this time with the Fab Five making their way to Texas in search of new, well-deserved candidates to change their lives for the better.

One such lucky participant was Terri White, who kicks off the new season when Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France and Bobby Berk pay her a visit to her family’s legendary honky-tonk Broken Spoke, an Austin institution that was attended by the likes of Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger, Willie Nelson and Clint Eastwood.

White is the venue’s resident two-step instructor, teaching weekly how to master traditional southern dance, as well as cotton-eyed joe and western swing. “People need to stop berating each other and have a good time,” she told the fiver on the show.

The fiery 58-year-old grandmother’s plot revolves around repairing her relationship with her daughter Ashley. But, perhaps, Netflix should have gone through a more thorough screening process before allowing White to draw cords and inadvertently expose her family’s business to a national audience; As Gawker recently pointed out, Broken Spoke’s Yelp reviews are littered with allegations of discrimination and homophobia.

White himself has been featured directly in many reviews, as former clients claim the company’s long-time (and seemingly only) dance instructor spices up their classes with racist remarks, taunting new learners, and making offensive comments about people’s looks.

Netflix did not respond to The Daily Beast’s repeated request for comment. Porowski, Brown, Van Ness, France, and Berk also did not respond to inquiries.

In a statement to The Daily Beast by Ginny White-Peacock, general manager of Broken Spoke and White’s sister, White denied the allegations made against her. White-Peacock also alleged that White is not an employee of Broken Spoke and does not own any part of the company, adding that White is in a contractor position where customers pay them directly for classes.

“We have been in business for 57 years and we do not discriminate based on race, gender or sexual orientation,” added White-Peacock. “We have people from all over the world who visit Broken Spoke and they all love it and are having a great time in our house. We have and will always take genuine allegations of discrimination seriously. “

But former customers, Austin locals, and more than a dozen Yelp reviews in recent years offer another side of the story.

“That wasn’t fun watching,” Portland-based writer and photographer Karla Margeson told The Daily Beast after watching the latest season of Strange eye and to see White of all people on her television screen.

Margeson, who uses she / she pronouns, had flown to Austin on a whim in February 2020 to take a two-step lesson and signed up for White’s class at Broken Spoke.

But shortly after the lesson started, Margeson said they felt like White was targeting them for their looks, with White picking at them in front of the entire class. “She arbitrarily asks people to be role models,” Margeson said recently in a TikTok. “I’m always called – I’m 6 feet tall, have all these tattoos, as if I stand out a little.”

“They hooked me up with a guy, we dance and I’m bad at it because this is my first lesson. That’s why I’m here and she’s literally toasting me in front of the crowd, talking about how I can’t take a direction, I have no rhythm, look at how bad this girl is, don’t be like her. At one point she actually yelled into the microphone: ‘Your next tattoo should be’ Loser ‘on her forehead because it’s so bad at it.’ “

Margeson left immediately after class was over, and unfortunately the bitter experience was her last big outing before the pandemic broke out the following month. When Margeson tuned in to the new season of Strange eye On New Year’s Eve, she was surprised to see white in the front and center.

“It was hard for me to promote her because all I know is that she abuses people who are vulnerable and excited in such a way that I don’t think there’s an excuse for it,” said Margeson. “Learn everything [or] Being new to something is such a vulnerable position, especially something to look forward to. To have someone scold you for it – that was just a shitty thing. “

“I think that’s a shame because there are a lot of people who would never take a dance lesson or try something like that again after a situation like this,” they added.

Margeson’s experience wasn’t an isolated one, and she even appears to be on the tamer side as she scours through the reviews on Broken Spoke’s Yelp pages, which routinely accuse White of insulting class members, making racist and misogynistic remarks, and other inappropriate behavior close .

“Instructor Terri is the most inappropriate, classless excuse for a human,” commented Kat M. of Yelp in November. “The teacher spent the first 40 minutes of the ‘dance class’ making obscene comments about the looks and races of different people. I became a victim of verbal abuse because of my choice of clothes. She called me a “skinny bitch” whose mom was supposed to “beat me to a pulp” for wearing denim shorts. Then she made racist comments to an Asian woman next to me … I wouldn’t recommend this class to anyone visiting the Austin area. “

“I found the teacher totally inadequate, I believe her name was Terri,” wrote another reviewer in October. “She grabbed my breasts and called me an anal slut. I think it’s supposed to be a cute comedy routine. If you think it’s fun this is the course for you. Personally, I will not be back. “

ILANA PANICH-LINSMAN / NETFLIX

Another claimed that White “joked aggressively” with paying customers “by calling women ‘yappy bitches’, telling us how stupid we looked, whether we were ‘fat-headed’, etc.”

“You should rename your 2-step lesson ‘Misogyny 101’,” a 2017 review said. “At one point, she asked all the women to turn around so the men could see our bums, and this was the only time that she demonstrated steps to the ladies. “

“We received no instructions from the shameful ‘teachers’,” wrote another reviewer. “She spent her time insulting and sexually abusing men and women. That’s right – while spreading a steady stream of profanity, she molested and insulted men and women. “

“The dance teacher was unforgivably racist and sexist,” is how another yelper sums up his 2015 experience. “Come to dance, but don’t pay for lessons.”

The scathing reviews were also directed at Broken Spoke in general, as several University of Austin students claimed that when they visited in late October 2021, management labeled members of their group as “little brown girls” and “little brown boys”.

Other guests claimed they saw staff and bartenders making derogatory and racist comments on guests of color, with one member of staff complaining about people who did not speak English.

An Austin resident who The Daily Beast does not want to mention has interacted with the White family for the past two decades and admits he saw White make unusual comments.

“I have certainly heard [things]“They explained. “I remember doing a few eye rolls and the like when I listen to her like, ‘Did she really just say that?'”

“It’s probably not quite as widespread as some might say, but it’s definitely a thing,” they added. “You’re a traditional, old, conservative family from Texas. In all honesty, I think it’s homophobia rather than racism. At least that’s what I’ve seen. People will tell little jokes and it’s a little bit racist but not over the top, it’s enough to plausibly deny. But the homophobia – they pat someone right on the shoulder and tell them they can’t do that if it’s like two women are dancing or if they’re sitting too close. “

The Austin resident explained that Broken Spoke doesn’t always have that reputation, adding that White and her mother, co-owner Annetta White, appear to be the main culprits in the crime. They added that things began to slide downhill about a decade ago when founder and owner James White became less active in the venue’s day-to-day business. James White passed away in January 2021.

But according to local reports from 2016, Broken Spoke had previously come under fire when two women alleged they had been scolded and told to kiss by Annetta while they were visiting the venue. One of the women said she was approached “after I bent over the booth to kiss my partner and yelled at us that we could do this outside or elsewhere but not in her bar.”

At the time, James White denied allegations of being homophobic, insisting that they say the same thing to all couples regardless of sexual orientation. “We tell them all the same way,” said James White Austin 360 after the 2016 incident. “We don’t mind a kiss on the cheek; We just don’t like it when it gets passionate. “

It’s a shame that Strange eye chose to shore up an establishment with a worrying number of allegations of homophobia and racism, not to mention White himself, who was accused of being a major instigator of the offensive statements. (However, it’s possible that White and Broken Spoke’s background was overlooked during the show’s prospect review process.)

Perhaps more importantly, the show had a missed opportunity to achieve what it originally wanted: breaking down barriers and stigmatization around sexuality and race, and broadening the perspectives of people who may have never been closely related to a Person of Color or someone who is queer.

“I’m not surprised they pick people who are a little grumpy, angry with the world, and maybe rough,” Margeson said. “I’ve looked enough [of the show] that I suspect they are trying to change people’s minds. I understand they are looking for it. But God, this is beyond the line of ‘rough on the edges’, this is a very problematic person who has done a lot of damage … I just think the way she treats other people is inexcusable. “

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