The Red Room changed owners last week and held their big opening night last Friday under the new ownership.
The bar is located in downtown Austin at the corner of 4th Street, a popular street for LGBT folks in Austin to mingle.
Originally a bar that used to cater to an LGBT clientele, Red Room is now being accused of turning away gay customers. Gay patrons say on that night, they were kicked out of the bar because of their perceived sexual orientation.
Read more after the jump.Speaking through a lawyer, the bar owners claim a private party rented their place that night. That it was the private party that kicked people out, within their legal right to do so. The owners also claim there was a new dress code being enforced that evening.
A former bartender that worked at Red Room until that night's incident has a different story to tell. He says the opening night was never announced through their Facebook page as a private event.
When the former bartender noticed the dress code being enforced unfairly — apparently being used to turn away gay customers — he went to find security. He claims to have overheard the door guy tell people, “This is not a gay bar anymore, you're not welcome. You can't come in.”
The owners state they regret what happened that night, and will be more careful in managing private events. They said the bar will remain an open and inviting bar for everyone.
While it does seem strange their opening night would be hosted as a private event by a different party, I am sure the owners of the Red Room genuinely do hope never to repeat this incident again. In a liberal city with a large and openly proud queer community — and thousands of straight allies that support their loved ones — discrimination of this kind is simply not tolerated.
The City of Austin prohibits discrimination in public accommodation based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Those who experience discrimination at a bar open to the public are encouraged to file a formal complaint with Austin's EEO office or the city's Human Rights Commission.