Civil rights officials in Colorado have ordered a popular gay bar in Denver to correct its discriminatory door policy after an investigation found that it favors patrons with hypermasculine qualities over effeminate gay patrons and those in drag.
A complaint was brought against the Denver Wrangler by 27-year-old Vito Marzano, a gay man who claims he was denied entry by the bar’s bouncer on August 31 last year for wearing a dress, makeup, and a wig.
A bouncer for the club maintains he turned Marzano away at the door because he was drunk and “his appearance didn’t match his driver’s license.”
But Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies decided that not to be the case, as the investigation they published confirmed that entry to the bar was most easily granted to hypermasculine or “bearish” gay men, and not guaranteed to men in drag. The report notes that a bar policy banned “wigs, high heels, and strong perfumes.”
“In other words, a female with a masculine gender presentation would be permitted to enter, whereas, a male presenting as a female would be denied entry,” DRA civil rights division Director Steven Chavez wrote in the report.
Writing for Planetransgender, Marzano explains he was “dressed in drag” for a fundraiser earlier in the evening that required men to dress in drag. “At no point during this incident – and I repeat, at no point – did they say I was being denied entry because of my poor attitude or because I was acting belligerently,” he wrote. “This was a debate about whether one of their policies is inherently transphobic.”
Wrangler General Manager Phil Newland told the AP 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.”
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 last year leading a boycott against the bar.
On his website Boycott the Denver Wrangler, Marzano has provided video of the alleged incident: