Will a call by high-profile members of the fashion industry to boycott hotel properties with ties to Brunei because of that country's anti-gay laws be answered beyond the echo chamber of social media?
The answer appears to be yes -- at least in the case of Jennifer Howell, founder of the Los Angeles-based charitable organization Art of Elysium, who Wednesday told the Los Angeles Times she had decided to organize a protest to take place outside the Brunei-owned Beverly Hills Hotel this Saturday morning.
"I've never protested anything in my life," she said, "but we have way too much information at our fingertips now to just let this happen."
Howell told The Times she was reaching out to other hotels in the Beverly Hills area to see if they would be willing to donate free rooms to guests who had already booked nights at the Pink Palace and present their booking confirmations.
"We just want to stand there as cars arrive, explain the situation to people and redirect them to other hotels," Howell said.
"I have no idea if it is going to work, but we can't sit by and do nothing. It would be like letting Hitler or some other monster get away with something."
Howell said the protest action is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in front of the hotel.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection, a portfolio of properties that also includes the Hotel Bel-Air locally as well as the Principe de Savoia in Milan and the Meurice in Paris, both of which are fashion industry favorites during those cities' biannual fashion weeks. The Dorchester Collection is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government.
A representative of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air said this week that the hotels "do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind. The laws that exist in other countries outside of where Dorchester Collection operates do not affect the policies that govern how we run our hotels."