A popular Southside bar dealt with patrons and protesters Thursday night. A demonstration was held at Whiskey River in response to a gay man who was denied entry because he was wearing makeup.
The staff at the nightlife hot spot parked a truck outside of its doors with the Texas flag and a Whiskey river flag in the cab, while a speaker from the pickup blared the song, "Why Can’t We Be Friends?" It was their way of saying they support the protesters’ rights, but they also say they wish it didn’t come down to this.
"There was no reason to bring in the gay community," says Twinky Gallegos, one of the managers and the resident DJ at Whiskey River. "What happened at the door with removing the makeup had nothing to do with him being gay or straight."
Last Wednesday, Bobby Rodriguez, a 21-year-old gay man says he was told when trying to go into the bar that he wasn’t allowed inside because of his makeup. In his words, Rodriguez says the doorman told him, "We have a dress code that states men need to men and females need to dress like females."
Whiskey River’s policy states that all patrons have to dress according to the gender specified on their driver’s license. But Isabel Ortiz, who calls herself a former patron of Whiskey River, believes there’s discrimination involved.
Describing her appearance at Thursday’s protest, "The way that I’m dressed is usually how I attend. I’m wearing a man’s shirt. I’m wearing a man’s belt buckle. I’m wearing a man’s boots and hat also from the men’s section. So I will not be contributing to their double standard just because I’m a female that doesn’t maybe make them feel as uncomfortable."
Ortiz was one of several people who came out to the protest organized by transgender activist Kathy Huff. She believes a policy like the one at Whiskey River is harmful to the reputation of our city.
"We are a tourist town. We have a lot of college kids here. People come down for Spring Break and that should include the entire LGBTQ community being welcomed in all businesses," Huff tells KRIS 6 New.
Gallegos says Whiskey River is welcoming and the bar’s strict dress code will not change.
"It has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. It is basically to keep everybody safe," Gallegos explains.
"Gentlemen have to wear their hats forward. No baggy clothes, no tattoos on the face. We have a very strict dress code for a reason and our patrons love that."