Brandon Rogers, a 21-year-old gay man from Cheadle Hulme, was turned away from a Manchester restaurant because he was wearing leopard print trousers, which the door staff deemed “too much.”
Rogers was with his family to celebrate his sister’s birthday at 20 Stories.
According to his other sister, Paris Osborne, he was the only one in their party of six that was turned away from the restaurant because he apparently did not fit the “smart casual” dress code policy.
She took to Twitter saying, “We’ve just been out for my sister’s birthday and my brother who is the best dressed out of all of us and is extremely expressive and proudly gay, was denied entry to 20 Stories Manchester. The bouncer looked him up and down, said his ‘pants are too, too much,’ ‘the leopard print, no.’ But then let a man who was seen as more ‘male’ who wore jeans that were discolored, dirty and wore worn out trainers, straight in. Absolute discrimination and homophobic. This needs to be seriously addressed.”
Absolutely shocked and horrified by the incident, Osborne added, “Homophobia still exists and very, very strongly.”
We've just been out for my sisters birthday and my brother who is the best dressed out of all of us was denied entry to @20StoriesMCR . Please read this is awful. Absolutely shocked and horrified. Homophobia still exists and very very strongly. pic.twitter.com/MxDXFwMnpO
— Paris Rogers (@parisosbornee) November 8, 2021
She posted a follow up tweet with a post collating various photos tagged at 20 Stories Manchester showing multiple women wearing leopard print.
According to Manchester Evening News, Rogers, who has autism, said he found the situation “infuriating” and added, “Queer people are suppressed and made to feel different our entire lives. I’m personally not a very confident person, so the way I present myself with dangly earrings and patterned clothing makes me feel that little bit more confident and happy within myself.”
“Having autism as well makes it really difficult for me to find ways to express myself and feel comfortable within my own skin, so businesses discriminating against me like this could potentially tear down all of that,” he continued. “I don’t understand why me wearing leopard print pants doesn’t fit their dress cold, but they let women with the same print in. It was clearly subconscious homophobia, something which I am used to. We need to get past the idea that male-presenting people wearing what is viewed as ‘feminine’ clothing is detrimental to their reputation. Their policies are the problem.”
D&D London, which operates 20 Stories Manchester, has issued an apology.
In a statement reported by Manchester Evening News, it said, “We would like to apologize to Brandon, Paris, and their party for the upset this incident has caused and that the group were refused entry from 20 Stories. Since opening, we have implemented a dress code policy ay 20 Stories. On this occasion, our door team, reception desk, and manager did not believe that the dress code had been adhered to and made the decision to refuse entry. We operate a zero-discrimination policy at 20 Stories and across D&D London, and have been doing a great deal of work to implement this by training and educating our staff across the group. We have been working with the LGBT Foundation to develop a training program for all D&D employees, which is now a standard as part of their ongoing training and development.”
That is all fine and dandy, but this is not the first time 20 Stories Manchester has come under fire for its treatment of LGBTQ customers.
Last year, the restaurant faced criticism for its treatment of two transgender customers who were left “humiliated” after being misgendered and turned away. At the time, the venue said they were committed to learning from the incident and were relooking at their procedures.
Carl Austin-Behan, LGBTQ adviser to the mayor of Greater Manchester, also made a statement on Twitter.
“I am angry and disappointed to read this as I spent a lot of time and energy working with them pre-COVID, to look at all staff LGBTQ training,” he said. “I will be speaking with them to see what’s going on.”