Denver “Bear Bar” Found Guilty Of Discriminating Against Men In Drag

e42ba9517898cc0abf69c0ce29faf56abf56bf9d_lCivil 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:

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  • masc4masc

    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?? Oh right, for attention and the right to cry discrimination! This owner SHOULD have the right to turn cross-dressers away, especially if he markets a more butch crowd to his patrons. This could be bad for business.

  • lykeitiz

    Unbelievable. Way to fight the real enemy.

    I don’t know if he was drunk, but the d-bag was yelling the entire time. He was being belligerent and he was causing a scene.

    What kind of kangaroo court would side with him? Oh wait…..probably one who would like to fine/punish ANY gay establishment for any reason. Nice progress.

    If that loser really wanted to advocate for trans rights, he would go to the closest right-wing ski lodge country club (of which I’m sure there are MANY in Denver)and try his act out there.

    Except that would take what real advocates have………guts.

  • Mykaels

    I can just see the headline for the new Bravo reality show:

    This week on “Queens Starting Shit”

  • Scribe38

    @masc4masc: You are wrong as usual. If an owner can block a guy in drag, how about a man of color? Can a bar not allow me in because I am black and a bear? I go mostly to bear bars and I always see a drag queen or a twink thrown in, who the hell cares, but you. What ever your sick issue you have against femme gays is between you and your Dad, but don’t be throwing your issues on the rest of us. I love my femme brothers.

  • Cam

    If the bar has a velvet rope policy then they are asking for it. That went out with Studio 54.

    If the bar simply had a dress code then that is easy, but what it sounds like is that a bouncer is at the door scanning the crowd and admitting some people and not allowing others in. Most clubs that do this come under fire for the policy. I’m surprised this bar didn’t know that.

  • CoachS

    Gotta agree with the first three comments. I get that he was trying to raise questions – that’s cool… 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.

  • michael mellor

    I’m glad Bear Bar got clocked by the authorities. Even if you don’t like effeminate men, you have no right to discriminate against them as a business.

    It’s hilarious how gay people issue lawsuits against businesses who refuse to bake wedding cakes for them but then turn around and discriminate against others.

  • asby

    Why go to a bar that doesn’t want you there?……Same reason i do not go to a biker bar or a skin head bar…or even a lesbian bar……there are plenty of places for him to go and spend his money……If he is so worried about transphobia he should go to straight bars in drag and see how they react…….

  • Rakkaus

    I’m not a bear. Far from it. On NYC Pride night I got kicked out of a bear bar. When I repeatedly tried to ask why the cops were called and I was physically escorted off the property. The only reason I was at the bear bar was because I was with two friends (a couple) who wanted to go there. I won’t be going to any bear bars again any time soon, those people are way too territorial and clannish about their little subculture.

    And I hope this drag queen wins her case against this discriminatory bear bar in Denver.

  • robirob

    The problem was he was denied entry based on gender identity discrimination (the gender on his ID didn’t match with the way he looked). If the bouncer just had said that he doesn’t fit the dress code for the evening (or something like that) there would be no case, because people who don’t wear appropiate or suitable clothing are not a protected class and businesses like clubs and restaurants can deny entrance and service to people and groups of people who are not protected by local/federal anti discrimination laws.

  • masc4masc

    @Scribe38: And you’ve opted for taking things personally instead of sticking to topic, as usual. I don’t have anything against you guys. Be as “fabulous” as you please. You guys are just insecure about your effeminacy, so the littlest things send you all into a tizzy. Go back and use whatever Stache99 uses to stalk my comments and see that I’ve NEVER said anything that generally slams all fems. However, I’m not going to walk on eggshells because you all are hypersensitive. You can always ignore my comments.

    Night clubs and bars are privately owned. Back when super clubs like 54 were big, bouncers stood outside and picked who they wanted to come in based on how they looked, what they were wearing, who they were with, etc. Some clubs in big cities still do. Never read of any discrimination cases. Like I said, if this club markets a more butch crowd, too many drag queens and fems can start to turn their crowd away. Aside from an opportunity to cause unnecessary drama, why would you want to be somewhere where you’re not wanted anyway?

  • Cam


    Yes, and bars with velvet rope policies have ALWAYS gotten heat in the press for it. No difference here.

    The bar made the mistake of hiring an idiot for the door. If they simply had a dress code there isn’t an issue, but having a guy at the door who gets douchey because he feels he has a little bit of power is going to get your bar in trouble every single time.

  • Teeth

    I wasn’t there– but my guess is that you guys are right– attention Ho— why would you want to go to a party that you weren’t invited to? But it was mishandled. There are so many better ways to deal with this- let the turkey in, but ignore her, including bottle service.

  • erikwm

    @masc4masc: Truly masculine guys don’t care whether someone else is masculine or effeminate. If you’re masculine and comfortable in your own skin, you don’t care how others dress or speak.

    “The feminization of the gay community is in full swing.”


    You make that sound threatening. Who cares? Most gay guys have always been a bit effeminate. Even most gay men who have an outwardly masculine physical appearance are a bit effeminate when they open their mouths. Just be you and don’t worry how others present themselves. THAT is true masculinity.

  • masc4masc

    @Cam: Well I agree that the bouncer could’ve gone about this in a better way. However, private establishments can and SHOULD turn you away if you don’t fit the atmosphere they’re trying to keep, especially a bar/nightclub. Establishing and enforcing some type of dress code could’ve probably prevented this. Though when I think about what I know the bear scene to be, it just seems like this drag queen probably did all this on purpose. More masc-shaming/aversion. The whole thing seems very calculated to me. I think the establishment was targeted. Marzano seems very vindictive.

    @erikwm: According to you, “truly masculine” gay guys don’t really exist. Very homophobic. And that’s exactly why the feminization of the gay community is problematic, so thank you for that example. I don’t care whether someone is masculine or feminine. I prefer to surround myself with guys I have more in common with, and that’s my right. I’ve never once stated that fems should cease to exist. This particular bar just wasn’t the environment for this particular fem, and he needs to stop being a drama queen.

  • DickieJohnson

    Do we need “Homo-genizing” of all gay men? If you wanna wear drag and act like a b*tch, don’t go to a bear bar. This sh*t is getting more and more ridiculous with time.

  • lagunaflipsta

    That’s discrimination. Please, let’s not go this way.

  • lagunaflipsta

    It’s a nice mix. You can’t just have a bar of smelly fatty fats without good smelling queens. They are like Febreeze.

  • Dxley

    And what’s wrong with that?

  • erikwm

    @masc4masc: You misread my statement. I’m also confused why you think the gay community is being feminized. That’s a bit like saying water is becoming too wet. The effeminate gay man is not a new phenomenon.

  • michael mellor

    Bars and clubs are NOT private spaces. They are licensed by the government, and thus must abide by government regulations.

    Gay bars are a form of glorified prejudice. They are based on appearance fascism.

  • thebutterflycatcher

    Chile, Bears are just another kind of bitchy effing QUEEN in drag. Except the drags are a gut, fur, levis and a pout. these bear queens (with the one token black guy on their promotional material) have the nerve to be exclusionary to their bar! It kills me when gays, Jews, blacks, or any group that has experienced eons of discrimination turns around and becomes exclusionary themselves. All the drag queen wanted was an effing drink. It really shouldn’t kill a bitchy bear to let a drag queen into that bar. You’d think the drag queen had anthrax!

  • RIGay

    My husband and I went to San Francisco of our honeymoon and did several walks along Castro. You saw the leather flags, the bear flags, just about every flag you could imagine in front of the bars. And when we went inside, it was all the same clientele. Just average guys, seriously drunk, hoping to score. Not in any drag (dress, leather, etc..). So… what is the point of advertising you’re a “bear bar” or a “leather bar” if people are only there for the $2 shots?

    Sidebar note: We were not impressed with any of if. Did you know there are NO dance bars in the Castro? No place to go and get into music? We walked, we asked… several places. One shop owner told is those all closed. It’s all about getting drunk now.

    As a gay community, we do tend to eat our own. How we forget that if it were not for the courage of drag queens, the Stonewall riots would have never materialized and our lives today would probably not be as open as they are.

  • tdx3fan

    @asby: A few of my friends used to go to straight bars. They were actually treated quite well there, and sometimes guys would try to hook up with them.

  • onthemark

    Many (or most?) of the commenters seem to have overlooked the part where the bar has already been found guilty under the state regulations.

    In other words, the state didn’t buy their story that he was drunk, &/or that his appearance didn’t match his iD, etc.

  • Cam

    @masc4masc: said…

    “Well I agree that the bouncer could’ve gone about this in a better way. However, private establishments can and SHOULD turn you away if you don’t fit the atmosphere they’re trying to keep, especially a bar/nightclub.”

    Because of the Tea Party and the weird dynamics of politics lately I think people have gotten very confused about the meaning of “Private” and “Public”. Unless you are a private club with a membership fee etc… you are a business licensed to do business publicly. In which case, if you are singling out patrons to not be admitted there needs to be an acceptable reason, i.e. a universally enforced dress code. If you aren’t letting people in because they are too skinny, or fat etc… then you are going to get into trouble.

  • vive

    @thebutterflycatcher, “Bears are just another kind of bitchy effing QUEEN in drag.”

    That should be the quote of the day! :)

  • masc4masc

    @erikwm: I understood what you wrote. Maybe you meant to word it differently. I didn’t say fems were a “new phenomenon”. The bear scene simply isn’t the place for a drag queen and all his “fabulousness”. The more I see how obsessed Marzano seems with bringing this bar down, the more it seems like he targeted this place with the intent to “feminize” the atmosphere. Lots of insecure fems view the bear scene as anti-fem. I think he went there with the intent to start drama/get attention, shame the establishment and teach them a lesson. He’s been harassing them for the last year. That’s way too much spite and energy to spend on spilled milk. A mentally-stable person would’ve been over it by now.

    @Cam: As I’ve already stated, the bouncer handled the situation poorly. All the bar has to do is establish a dress code that will block the types they don’t want. And yeah, maybe they should even start a membership fee if necessary. There’s no real way to stop them from keeping undesirables away, especially if they know they’re making money off providing a more exclusive environment to their patrons. Some areas set/increase property values to keep/drive certain types of people out. Totally legal and quite necessary sometimes. Same thing here. They just need to find the loophole.

  • Cam


    To a certain extent they are cutting their own throats. The thing they don’t seem to get is, just because somebody IS a bear, doesn’t mean they only want to sleep with bears.

    I’ve seen plenty of people who look like they are extras from the show “Sons of Anarchy” with their twink or drag queen boyfriends.

  • masc4masc

    @Cam: That may be what you’d like to think, but it’s more likely that bears wouldn’t even spend half as much time on this as we have. From what I’ve seen, the bear scene is fairly homogeneous: butch, hairy, white, over 40, overweight/stocky/muscled without abs, pacifier-sized nips, etc. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal to just let them have their “bear cave”, especially since part of the reason they congregate is because a lot of them don’t fit the typical gay ideals for one reason or another. Marzano’s just trying to crash their party so he can feminize a typically butch scene and get his 15 minutes in gay news headlines.

  • Cam

    @masc4masc: said…

    “@Cam: That may be what you’d like to think, but it’s more likely that bears wouldn’t even spend half as much time on this as we have. From what I’ve seen, the bear scene is fairly homogeneous: butch, hairy, white, over 40, overweight/stocky/muscled without abs, pacifier-sized nips, etc.

    Ok, what I find interesting is that I relate my impressions, things I’ve seen, and your response is “That may be what you like to think”

    But as a response, your reply is “From what I’ve seen”

    So in other words, what anybody else has seen is false, but what you have seen is the way it is.

    As for your claims here, your argument is no different than people who said “Women suing this company for not having any women execs are just trying to crash that party.”

    There are legal things the bar can do…i.e. dress codes, what the bar was doing is not legal, end of story, your opinions on the feminization of the gay community, a community long stereotyped for NOT being masculine have no bearing on what is legal and what is not.

  • masc4masc

    @Cam: From our previous conversations, I thought you were just an incredibly dishonest manipulator. Now I’m thinking I gave you way too much credit. Maybe you’re just not the brightest star in the sky. You tried to state an opinion as fact, which is why I said what I said. You also seem to refuse to accept that I’ve already stated the bouncer handled this poorly, even in direct response to you. The bar does have the right to find a legal way to discourage a certain type if they wish. Neighborhoods, clubs/bars, country clubs, casting directors, etc. etc. do it all the time. It’s all about finding the loophole, and there’s ALWAYS a loophole when it comes to dealing with the PC Police because life is rarely politically correct.

  • chakrakahn

    The hypermasculinized überfaggot mindset is ruining what was once a really open community. It’s getting to the point where if you aren’t iron-pumped and sporting ‘tribal’ tattoos, you’re not welcome. A shame, really. Some of the comments above…damn, queens you gots some serious issues. I’ll bet each of those up there in the thread who support the bar owner would be on CNN, lawyer in tow in a quick minute if they were refused service at Olive Garden.

    I thought we were better than this. But, we’re not, Blanche, we’re not.

  • edencox

    This story isn’t reporting all the facts. I used to hang at this bar all the time until I moved away recently. For starters, the only people denied entry are individuals whose id’s don’t match their gender. If a drag queens Id says male on it they are denied. If it’s someone whose trans and their id says female which they now dress as, they are welcomed. Secondly Vito(the drag queen in the video) was both drunk and planning on starting shit that night. This bar welcomes more than just bear types. The problem is the twink crowd in denver likes to go and take over a bar for awhile then leave it( usually causing the bar to shut down due to the fact most of its old business was driven off by the crowd and the twinks move on to the next hot spot) the only bar that has never been taken over is this one because they put in place policies to keep it a men’s bar.

  • edencox

    @cam and @Macs4masc both of you have been debating this so listen to this. I do drag. Everyone at the bar knew it and never once was I ever discriminated against. I knew the bars policy of no drag(as did Vito before the incident) I just had to get out of the drag before entering.

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