Vito Marzano Wins First Battle Against Gay Bear Bar He Says Is Biased Against Effeminate Men

Categories: News

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A photo from Vito Marzano's Facebook page. More images plus videos and an original document below.
When does a dress code enter into the realm of discrimination? That's among the questions addressed in a ruling by the Colorado Division of Civil Rights on a complaint from Vito Marzano, who says Denver Wrangler, a gay club that reportedly caters to the bear subculture, exhibited bias by refusing to let him enter while dressed in drag.

In a letter on view below, regulator Steven Chavez finds evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Denver Wrangler and orders the opposing parties to begin mediation -- a determination that thrills Marzano and others who've taken part in a boycott campaign against the venue. Continue for details, photos, videos and the original document.

See also: Masterpiece Cakeshop: Civil Rights Commission Finds Bakery Discriminated Against Gay Couple

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A look at Denver Wrangler, from 7News coverage.
The letter describes Denver Wrangler as catering to "a gay subculture known as 'Bears,' which are bisexual or gay males which tend to place importance on presenting a hypermasculine image and often shun interaction with men who exhibit effeminacy."

The club's posted dress code states:

• NO HIGH-HEELED SHOES
• NO WIGS OR APPEARANCE-ALTERING MAKE-UP*
• NO STRONG PERFUMES

*THEMED PARTIES AND HALLOWEEN EXCEPTED. YOU MAY BE ASKED TO REMOVE WIGS AND MAKEUP AT ANY TIME TO GAIN ENTRY INTO THE CLUB

On or about August 31 of last year, the letter says Marzano tried to get into Denver Wrangler but was allegedly refused "based on his gender presentation because he was dressed as a woman, in 'drag.'"

To Marzano, this rejection was evidence of discrimination, while Denver Wrangler maintains that it was simply trying to match Marzano with his driver's license photo -- something that was impossible because he was wearing "make-up, false eyelashes and sunglasses." Marzano counters that he removed his wig and sunglasses to make identification possible but still wasn't allowed entry.

The Boycott the Denver Wrangler website features a cellphone video of another exchange between Marzano and bar personnel, in which the reasons for him not being admitting are debated in passionate terms. Here it is:

In response to Marzano's complaints, Phil Newland, general manager of the Wrangler, tried to explain the club's policies in a Facebook post also shared on the Boycott the Denver Wrangler site. The item stresses that Newland is not "Trans-phobic" and argues that the video "inaccurately tells a portion of the whole story." But while he concedes that gender is "a fluid concept," he notes that "the liquor laws of Colorado are not. One violation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and...directly impacts the life of a person trying to make a living.

"I support my staff, and I agree with my door policies," he concludes. "It keeps my business safe, it keeps my staff safe, and it keeps my doors open."

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A non-drag Facebook photo of Marzano.
Wrangler representatives cited in the letter also maintain that their policy is necessitated by state law, since "properly matching the identification to the person presenting it is the only means by which [the venue] can verify a patron's legal drinking age and protect itself from underage customers attempting to enter the club." Author Chavez points out that the club had two violations in 2013: one for serving alcohol to a minor and another for "sale or service to a visibly intoxicated person."

Chavez's take? "At face value," he writes, the Wrangler's policies "appear legitimate and non-discriminatory." However, he feels that the evidence presented to him -- including the relaxation of the dress code for themed parties and Halloween -- suggests that the venue "uses its policies to select patrons whose appearance is masculine, whether or not they are male or female, for entry into its club. 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."

Continue for more about the Division of Civil Rights determination letter, including additional photos, a video and the original document.


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27 comments
ObamaNazi
ObamaNazi

Manchelle Obama started out in drag shows, that's how she eventually morphed into America's most annoying transvestite.

Corydon
Corydon

Wow.


I agree that Marzano has a legal right to be at the bar, but it's kind of a dick maneuver to show up to a bear bar (or leather bar or whatever) in drag.  I highly doubt that this guy was unaware of the kind of place the Wrangler is (a big part of the reason many patrons choose to go there in the first place).  He chose to disregard that.  Pretty self-centered and disrespectful if you ask me.


But he does have a legal right to be an asshole.

erikwm
erikwm

Dress codes that require formal attire are acceptable, but when your dress code prohibits dress associated with a specific class, you're going to run into trouble with the law.


The bar was wrong to deny Marzano entry. Laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in public accommodations also apply to gay businesses. "Bear" bars are not exempt. 

Lindsey Scott
Lindsey Scott

This has gone on in gay bars for years & it's wrong. Often it's race, income, the wrong look, etc. Yes, gay businesses, discrimination laws apply to you too! One Drag Queen will not ruin your business. I'm glad he filed the complaint & think he's brave. Wake up, it's 2014.

Harvey
Harvey

Vito Marzano is no Rosa Parks.  He's the Steve Horner of the GLBTQ community.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Unbiased and objective opinion based on the video only:


Marzano was obviously there ONLY to pick a fight, make his point and push his agenda.  I can't believe the guys at the door were as patient with this whiny little dick as they were.  He needed to be knocked on his ass.  

Dustin Pickering
Dustin Pickering

I've been doing this for 16yrs and not once has any place I've worked been busted for underage sting while I was on the door! And that's also why I'm one of the most respected door men in town!

Michael Roque
Michael Roque

And that's exactly why siblings use their older siblings' IDs to get into bars.

Steve Abraham
Steve Abraham

The Wrangler discriminates against a lot of people. If they don't like the way you look, the find a reason to deny entrance or kick you out.

Gregg Looker
Gregg Looker

They have been letting women and drag queens into the Wrangler since this past spring and they are also allowed to partake of the famous Sunday Afternoon Beer Bust (which raises thousands and thousands of dollars for charities every year). I think I have a picture of this person actually at the Wrangler, in drag, participating in the beer bust earlier this spring.

Dustin Pickering
Dustin Pickering

This is so wrong! I have been a door guy in Lodo at bars and nightclubs since 98' and if you can't tell by looking at a picture on an Id of a person who prefers to cross dress or who is transgender you don't need to be working the door! I know many transgender and cross dressers and I could identify them no problem! So for that owner train your door guy/s to be able to identify people by facial mapping such as jaw line, cheek bones, nose, eyes, eye spacing, ears, & mouths. You have to make yourself a person who wants to be good at your job! I bet if I went around most bars downtown that I could catch a few guys on fakes just cause they don't know and don't make it a point to learn new ones or even international Id's and passports!

Matthew Colella
Matthew Colella

*as with any business anywhere for whatever reason. choose with your dollar.

Jesse Collins
Jesse Collins

Eh the wrangler sucks anyways. Hit them where it really hurts by not spending your money there.

DJRockstarAaron
DJRockstarAaron

It's about time Westword! You interviewed me about my rotted experience with them in 2012 but the interview never saw the light of day! Glad you finally reported on this.

VitoMarzano
VitoMarzano

@fishingblues No, I wasn't. I went after a fundraiser and had never heard about any policy. There was no agenda when I went. Please get your facts correct before making assumptions. 

VitoMarzano
VitoMarzano

I do not know who this person is but it was not me. I have not been back to the Wrangler since that night. 

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@VitoMarzano @fishingblues


What facts?  It is all subjective.  My observation is based 100% on the video presented here.  My opinion of what happened is based on that.  I don't give a shit if you don't like it.  

ufo0
ufo0

@VitoMarzano But you sure are stirring up a shit can of worms that you can easily walk away from. For the rest of the trans community, it is a landmine you have laid. Silly faggots, games are for kindergarteners. Fucking grow up, all of you stupid ass cross dressers and "bears". Or you will be treated like the children you act like. Gay fucking bone heads!! I hope they close the place down just to scatter the fucking rats hiding there, just like the place i palm springs..... 51 / 50

VitoMarzano
VitoMarzano

@fishingblues @VitoMarzano Like I said, you don't have all of the facts. I didn't approach looking for a fight. I was going with friends after a fundraising event. I even removed my wig and sunglasses. The only difference between my picture on my ID was a shaved face and some foundation. Don't let those pesky little facts get in the way. 

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@SpottedDick 


Gosh donkey, "spotted dick" seems such an appropriate  name for an AIDS infested asshole.  


fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@VitoMarzano 


Your opinion of the events  DO NOT equate to "facts".


Your argumentativeness, as displayed here, is likely why you were rejected.  That and the "fact" that you are a whiny little bitch.  



VitoMarzano
VitoMarzano

@fishingblues @VitoMarzano Operative word being "likely." As you admit, your opinion is entirely subjective. I was denied entry because my gender presentation did not match my ID. I am not being argumentative; you're being combative. So I'm done. 

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@VitoMarzano @fishingblues


And here is why you are so fucked up in the head.  In your twisted little mind, it's not you; it's everyone else with a problem.


Let us go back to my second post:


"I don't give a shit if you don't like it."  

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