A Drag Queen Claims Discrimination After Being Denied Entry To Newcastle Venue

But Finnegan's Hotel in Newcastle insists that the drag queen was only denied entry because the outfit did not meet its dress code.

What you need to know
  • Cristian Hayes, who performs drag under the stage name Jessica Christ, was denied entry to Finnegan's Hotel in Newcastle on Saturday night
  • The securty guard allegedly told him that "because you're male, you have to wear a pants and a shirt"
  • Finnegan's has apologised, but insists that Cristian's outfit violated its dress code

A drag queen is claiming discrimination after being denied entry to one of Newcastle's biggest clubs.

Cristian Hayes, who performs under the drag name Jessica Christ (and has given ten daily permission to use male pronouns throughout this story), was denied entry to Finnegan's Hotel in Newcastle on Saturday night following a drag performance nearby.

He says that although his five friends -- two of whom were also in drag -- were initially permitted entry, he was taken aside by a different security guard who insisted that, as a man, he should be wearing a shirt and pants.

Cristian had performed a drag show under his stage name Jessica Christ at Blush! earlier in the evening. Photo: Leanne Colclough / supplied.

"The security guard told me that I couldn't enter, because of the way I was dressed," he told ten daily.

"I questioned him about it, and he said, 'No, because you're male, you have to wear pants and a shirt. That's the dress code.'

"I said I understand that, but I'm dressed in drag, I'm not identifying as a male at the moment, so I should be able to go through the female dress code.

"He had my ID in his hand and says, 'No, your ID says you're male, so you have to dress as a male'."

Cristian (third from left, as Jessica), performed to an audience of 200 people. Photo: Leanne Colclough / supplied.

New South Wales drivers licences don't include the holder's gender, a fact Cristian says he only realised when he got his licence back.

When he asked why his companions in drag had been let in, the security guard said that it was a mistake, and none of them should have been allowed entry in the first place.

The situation ended with Cristian's entire party being kicked out and banned for 24 hours.

"This is a disgusting attack on the LGBTQ community," he wrote on Facebook. "Something needs to happen in Newcastle for us to survive and it’s venues like this who continue to attempt to push us back into hiding."

Finnegan's Hotel apologised for any "distress and/or embarrassment" and admitted that their security guard made a mistake in his explanation, but insists that Cristian was denied entry because his attire did not meet its dress code policy, not because he was in drag.

"The explanation given by the guard on the door, was not correct and we apologise if that caused you any distress and/or embarrassment. The security guard was spoken to last night after the incident and reminded that the a person's gender identity has no bearing on the dress code, rather their present gender expression. We can confirm the security guard that was working the door does not usually work in that position, which unfortunately resulted in the incorrect explanation given to you."

Finnegan's dress code states that all attire must be "neat and tidy", with work boots, work-related clothing, heavily branded, baggy or ill-fitting clothing, sports shoes or clothing, board shorts, gym shorts, cargo pants, club colours, bikie branding, offensive or intimidating tattoos, thongs, singlets and sunglasses not permitted after 9pm.

The venue clarified to ten daily that Cristian's outfit was deemed "ill-fitting", because it consisted of "a half skirt with underpants showing at the front and a small crop top."

Finnegan's Hotel in Newcastle. Source: Finnegan's Hotel / Instagram.LGBT

Cristian -- who says he was wearing "ten layers of stockings and tights" -- believes this points to a double standard in dress code, and that a cis woman wearing his outfit would have been allowed entry.

"I literally had more material on my body than half the guys inside the venue," he wrote on Facebook.

"The biggest issue is that you have employees who are representing your business and your public image lying, threatening, not following policy and being transphobic to patrons attempting to make a more inclusive environment in Newcastle. It's people like you and the people you employ who are oppressing this community and making it harder for us to exist.

"It's goddamn 2018... what is this?"

Following the issue, Finnegan's says its security staff will be undergoing additional training in relation to inclusiveness, and reaffirmed its commitment to being an LGBTQ inclusive venue.

"Finnegan’s is very inclusive in that we welcome everyone. We employ a number of staff that are members of the LGBTQ community including a security staff member and resident DJ both of whom have worked for us for many years," it said to ten daily.