A gay bar in the US has been ruled by state regulators to have discriminated against a gay man in drag when it refused to allow him to enter dressed as a woman.
The doormen at The Wranger Bar, in Denver, Colorado claimed that they could not identify the Vita Marzano in comparison to his drivers license, which is a legal requirement to avoid serving underage patrons. One of the bouncers also claimed that 27 year-old Marzano was drunk on arrival. Marzano left the bar, but later returned with intent to record a second attempt to gain entry (see below article).
Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DRA) disagrees with the bar, and has ruled that The Wrangler Bar discriminated against Marzano by violating his “right to public accommodations” when he was denied access, which it claims was due to his attire. Marzano arrived at the popular bear bar on August 31 last year, wearing a wig, make-up, a dress and high-heels. He had been in attendance at a drag show earlier in the evening.
Speaking about the night, Marzano told, “For me, what I am taking from this is the vindication that Wrangler was wrong and does use its policies to discriminate against individuals. I want The Wrangler to change their policy, to create a welcoming atmosphere, and to stop this nonsense of discriminating against members of our community”.
Whilst conducting research and interviews on the bars history, the DRA said it discovered that the bar has a history of discriminating against women and effeminate men. Whilst it is not uncommon for bars aimed at hyper-masculine gay men to exist, the ability of these establishments to screen customers on theme depends on local laws.
The DRA has instructed the Denver Wrangler to settle the dispute with Marzano himself. Reaching an agreement this way is unlikely, as Marzano has spent the year since the incident leading a boycott against the bar – including setting up a website and posting a video of the alleged incident online.
Darold Kilmer, a Denver-based civil rights lawyer said of the issue, “The law is new and developing. I think this was a courageous decision, but a correct decision by the civil right division”.
Wrangler General Manager Phil Newland told the Associated Press that the report “contains many errors and equally as many disturbing opinions. The Denver Wrangler does not deny entrance to anyone, including women and those who identify as transgender”.
One comment from a user with the nickname ‘LegalRugby’ shared her experience of the bar, “I have gone to this bar repeatedly, and they will flat out refuse to serve females when it’s busy, and they host beer busts where females cannot participate. I’ve been to damn near every gay bar in Denver and The Wrangler was easily the most unwelcoming. I think that they’d really like to forget that females even exist”.
Another user, ‘CoachC’ disagreed with the drag queens choice of location for protest saying, “I get that he was trying to raise questions, but why raise them at a bear bar instead of at the local Evangelical Christian tent revival and why so much screaming and swearing? I’m sort of surprised that the judge sided with him on that one. He was raising a scene and being disruptive. Any bar, straight or gay, can deny a patron access on those grounds”.
Another user, ‘Masc’ was less content with the decision saying, “The feminization of the gay community is in full swing. The bear community is known for beards, bellies and beer; why would one show up in drag? For attention and the right to cry discrimination! This owner should have the right to turn cross-dressers away. If this club caters to a more butch crowd, too many drag queens can start to turn their crowd away. Aside from the opportunity to cause unnecessary drama, why would you want to go somewhere you’re not wanted anyway?”
What do you think – should niche bars and clubs be able to outline a dress code and clientele and refuse entry to those who don’t fit the description, or should establishments be forced to adjust their identities to become all-inclusive? Tweet us your thoughts @TheOutmost
Watch Vita’s videoed second attempt to enter the bar below.
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