Access Denied: Strip Club’s Ungentlemanly Behavior Toward Two Ladies
Miami’s Dean’s Gold Being Slapped With A Lawsuit For Denying A Lesbian Couple Entry Into The Gentleman’s Club
by Heather Cassell
It wasn’t a happy hour when a couple was denied entry into Miami’s “ultimate gentleman’s club” during a recent vacation to the Sunshine State.
The reason? Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa and Heather Cox were denied entry into Dean’s Gold strip club in North Miami Beach by a hostess and a manager because they were unaccompanied “by a man” recently while on vacation, according to multiple media reports.
The club has a policy that states: “Unescorted single ladies are not allowed into the club … unless they’re escorted by a gentleman.”
Adding insult to the injury, the couple who drove across town for the club’s happy hour felt dejected as the club’s employees looked at them as if they were crazy for attempting to enter the club, reported the Miami New Times.
“Do we really have to explain why we want to go?” asks Heather, a real estate agent. “It’s a free country. Sex and pleasure are essential to human nature. This is a civil rights issue.”
“I walked away with my head down,” she says about the recent incident.
Two girls trying to get into a club that is open to the public and advertises girl-on-girl action and caters mostly to men shouldn’t be new or a surprise to the club’s management. They must have seen ladies who don’t work at the club but want to patronize it at its front doors before. Hello. Miami is home to some of the largest all-girl parties Aqua Girl and Sweet Heat. It’s not like there aren’t lesbians in South Beach.
So, it’s a little ridiculous that a strip club in the 21st century has such a sexist policy; a policy that Gigi and Heather never have experienced back home in San Francisco.
“It’s common knowledge that there are a lot of straight men out there who fantasize about lesbians and who go to these clubs to see women,” Gigi tells the Times, “yet when actual lesbians try to go in, they’re not gonna have it.”
That’s what the 39-year old women who have been together since 2002 and married three years ago felt after being humiliated, but that humiliation and dejection turned into anger. They were embarrassed and angry to the point that they filed a bias complaint against the Dean’s Club with the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights on September 15.
The two women along with their attorney Miami-based attorney Matthew Dietz are citing Chapter 760 of the Florida Statutes and chapter 11A of the Miami-Dade code, as amended. The anti-discrimination codes don’t include sexual orientation or gender identity, but do cite “sex” as a basis to not refuse “accommodation or service.” The laws include private clubs.
Dean’s Gold isn’t a membership club, reported the Times.
Representatives of Dean’s Gold didn’t respond to media requests for comment.
“The message that women must be accompanied by men is totally infantilizing,” says Gigi a former Miami native. “And it’s a direct statement of exclusion targeted at bisexual women and lesbians.”
“Entertainment venues should not be discriminating on the basis of race or gender or sexuality,” continues Gigi.
Gigi, a doctoral student in theater and performance studies at Stanford University, points out that the club’s policy brings into question strip clubs’ treatment of transgender people who are customers.
She questions how the clubs are defining “gentlemen,” reports the Times.
“What if I were there with a female-to-male transgender person? Then what?” she asks.
“Equal is equal,” Matthew tells the Bay Area Reporter. “There is no valid reason why a man needs to accompany a woman to see a lesbian show.”
“Civil rights mostly neglect sexual behavior,” he adds. “To deny or belittle any human being for engaging in lawful sexual entertainment is demeaning. To make it the exclusive province of a man is primitive.”
Matthew points out that the sex industry caters to “anachronistic attitudes” and men and male-identified men will pay to be “‘treated like a man’ in a Hugh Hefner mold.”
Gigi and Heather aren’t the first women to call out strip clubs for their inhospitable treatment of queer women, reports the Times. Clubs, such as Paradise Showgirls in Los Angeles, that faced a similar lawsuit, have fended off legal attacks against “gentleman accompanied” policies across the country. The Los Angeles club settled out of court, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Since filing the complaint other women who have had similar experiences have approached them, says Gigi.
The women aren’t seeking financial damages at the moment they tell the B.A.R. and the Times. They simply want to set a precedent and change the discriminatory policy.
“We’re asking for an end to the discrimination,” says Heather. “From there we’ll decide if we want to sue for damages.”
To contract an original article, purchase reprints or become a media partner, contact .
Your next destintion