Man told to remove makeup to gain entry to nightclub in Texas

USA Today NetworkBeatriz Alvarado, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times Published 9:18 a.m. ET May 12, 2018 | Updated 9:33 a.m. ET May 12, 2018

Bobby Rodriguez was in Corpus Christi, Texas, for a night out and says he was denied entry at the Whiskey River night club because he was wearing fake eyelashes and lipstick.(Photo: Submitted)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Bobby Rodriguez, 21, wiped off his makeup Wednesday night because he wanted to dance.

Rodriguez, of Kingsville, Texas, was in Corpus Christi for a night out and says he was denied entry to Whiskey River nightclub because he was wearing fake eyelashes and lipstick.

"I approached the door I handed my ID to the security at the door (and) his words were and, I quote, 'unfortunately, you cannot enter because you are wearing makeup and we have a rule here that says men need to dress like men,' " Rodriguez said. "I literally had to walk back to my car and rip my false lashes off and wipe off my lipstick.

"I was so upset, I mean, who wouldn't be?"

Man told to remove makeup to gain entry to nightclub in Texas

Bobby Rodriguez says he was denied entry at Whiskey River night club because he was wearing makeup. (Photo: Beatriz Alvarado,)

Angela Blohm is registered as the nightclub's owner in the state's business directory.

She expressed fear of retaliation, but defended the business' policy.

Blohm referred to Rodriguez's allegations as "just a bunch of frivolous baloney," adding that although a "gender appropriate" dress code is in place at the business there is no way to prove the encounter took place.

"Whiskey River has a standard dress code that states everyone must dress gender appropriate to the gender stated on their state-issued driver's license," Blohm said.

"The conversation that was held at the door cannot be verified."

Blohm declined to detail if any signs regarding the dress policy are posted at her business.

Signs detailing the dress code are not visible from outside the nightclub.

The experience was offensive and came off as discriminatory, Rodriguez said.

Federal law that prohibits discrimination by private businesses -- Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- only prevents businesses from refusing service based on race, color, religion, or national origin.

Federal law does not prevent businesses from refusing service to customers based on sexual orientation.

Some states and cities provide those protections for residents.

Not Texas.

"Unfortunately, that's currently not against the law in Texas," said Chuck Smith, the chief executive officer of Equality Texas, an advocacy group for LGBTQ Texans.

"If it's the intent of the business to refuse entry to gay or transgender people, it's not illegal but I would certainly see they are seeking to discriminate."

"If the purpose of the dress code is to exclude LGBTQ people from entering then the dress code is not any different than putting up a sign that states 'we don't serve your kind.' "

Twelve Texas cities with populations of more than 100,000 that have rules in place to protect residents or city employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2016 report from the Texas Tribune.

Corpus Christi has no explicit protections for LGBTQ residents although the city did amend its employment policy in 2016 to ban discrimination against LGBT employees and applicants for city jobs, according to the report.

Follow Beatriz Alvarado on Twitter: @CallerBetty

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