Queer Eye’s Fab Five: Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski and Bobby Berk (L-R). (Getty)
Three people of colour who work at an Old Navy store in Philadelphia say they were told to keep out of sight while an all-white crew worked the sales floor during an in-store taping Queer Eye.
The allegations first surfaced on August 21, when one of the people of colour described the incident online.
Monae Alvarado said that when the Netflix hit show came to Old Navy to film, she and other black and brown co-workers were told to stand at the back of the store and not be visible to the camera crew.
“So they were filming Queer Eye (not queer as folk) at my job (Old Navy in Center City Philadelphia) and at my job is nothing but people of color. Most of us did an overnight to help make the store look beautiful,” Alvarado wrote in a Facebook post.
“Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white. They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store,” she wrote.
According to Alvarado and two other store employees, 10 white Old Navy employees from other stores were brought in to the Center City store for when the Queer Eye segment was taped.
“I was told to go to the back of the store by [Old Navy managers] involved with the production,” Alvarado told Philadelphia magazine.
“About six of my fellow co-workers were there, and we were shooed away from the camera as they filmed with these outside employees, who came from West Chester, Mount Pocono, and New Jersey.
“It immediately seemed odd to me that they were being used to tape at our store location when we already have a diverse group of workers who had been preparing for Queer Eye to come for nearly a week.”
“Most of us worked additional overnights to make the store look top-notch,” said another Old Navy employee of colour, who asked not to be named. “Corporate brought in new clothes, signs, and repainted parts of the store. We had to hide all tags under clothes and fold everything a certain way to make the place look spotless.
“We were under the impression from our managers that we would be filmed and to remain professional. I was super-excited up until the day of and a random group of white folks came in to replace us at our own store.”
“I felt the racism the moment I was being told by managers to go to sections of the store that I usually don’t work around,” a third Center City Old Navy employee of color said. “It became clear that we weren’t going to be filmed because we hadn’t been asked to sign consent forms, and they made it a point to keep us as far away from the cameras as possible. Most of the staff and managers at our store location are black.”
A spokesperson sent the following statement to Philadelphia magazine by email: “At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging. We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera.
“We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots. These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population.
“We would never select employees to participate – or not – based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”