A student at the University of York has spoken to Nouse about his “humiliating experience” at Bora Bora on Monday night, where he was denied entry on account of his drag persona showing ‘insufficient resemblance’ to his personal ID.
Leighton Read, 19, was on a night out with friends when he was forced to wait behind on arrival at the Swinegate cocktail bar. Having watched his friends enter before him, Read presented the bouncer with his passport, at which point he was told he could not be identified and asked to remain outside.
Read recounts that he confirmed his personal details and backed up his passport with his bank card and transformation photos, all to no avail. On learning the reason for his refused entry, Read’s friends also assured the bouncer that his drag persona, Hellena Heartbeat, was in fact the same person identified on his passport.
But it wasn’t until approximately 20 minutes after his first attempt at entry that Read was let into the bar – and only on removing his wig to prove the resemblance, which was then deemed satisfactory.
It was just blatant discrimination
Read told Nouse he was shocked and upset by the incident, given he had never been subjected to such lengths to prove his identity in all the times he had been out in drag in York, Leeds and Sheffield, including trips to The Stone Roses, The Lowther, The Drawing Board, The Parish, Popworld, Society, and clubs Salvation and Mansion.
Jordan Bonner, a friend of Read’s who was present at the time, agreed the incident was disturbing, alleging: “The bouncer was being incredibly rude, the bar staff were incredibly unhelpful, and those who saw were generally outraged.
“It was just blatant discrimination.”
Bora Bora have not responded to a request for comment.
Summing up his reaction to the incident, Read told Nouse: “I’ve never had to de-wig to get into a cocktail bar, it was a humiliating experience.
“I spend hours creating my looks, I shouldn’t have to take them apart to get a martini.”