Monday, February 3, 2014

Are Transgender People Unwelcome at JunXion Bar? [UPDATED]

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Nicole.jpg

Nicole Milania Blanco still doesn't understand why she wasn't allowed into downtown Tucson's JunXion Bar on Saturday, Feb. 1, while her friends were allowed to go in. However, she's guessing it's possibly because she is transgender.

The internets exploded a bit over the weekend with comments on the bar's Facebook review section, as well as posts from Blanco and others on what allegedly took place on Saturday night. Blanco told the Weekly that she's been to the bar twice before and remembers getting stares, but was never told to leave. When she got dressed up with her friends—another woman and a man—to go out Saturday night she never expected she'd be turned away at the the door.

She's still trying to figure out why or what happened.

"The bouncer at the door said 'We can't let you in. I'm not allowed to let you in,'" says Blanco, who identifies as transsexual.

The bouncer told her she had been blacklisted by the manager, and never said why. Her friend reportedly knows JunXion general manager Andrew Ian Sommers and texted him about the situation outside. Blanco says it took Sommers 15 minutes to come outside, and when he did he told them it wasn't his call but the bouncers.

"It was embarrassing," she says. "People were looking at us."

She wonders if complaints had been made to management the last time she was at the bar. Blanco describes the crowd as urban and straight, so some maybe patrons were uncomfortable with someone who is transgender.

Blanco says she doesn't know, because neither the manager or bouncer would give her a reason. She's contemplating filing a complaint with the city, but she'd like to know why she wasn't allowed into the bar.

The Weekly emailed and called Sommers asking for comment and the bar's policy regarding which patrons are welcome. When we hear back from him, we'll let you know what he has to say.

UPDATE: Sommers responded to the controversy on JunXion's Facebook page:

Dear Tucson,

JunXion not only doesn't discriminate against anyone in the LGBTI community, but openly welcomes and supports them as our friends, coworkers, and as our customers. We seek to make our club a place where everyone —-regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation —- will be treated with respect. We stress this to our bar and security staff and we have proudly hosted gay events without incident in the past and are planning more in the future. This is a commitment that reflects our values, both personally and as a business.

So it was extremely unsettling to read Facebook and Tucson Weekly posts suggesting that someone could have been mistreated, discriminated against or denied entry simply for being Transgender. Our security staff are instructed to treat everyone with courtesy and act in a professional manner at all times and I can assure you that anyone working at JunXion who committed such an offensive act would be fired.

Our security personnel are entrusted with providing a safe environment for our customers. This includes removing anyone causing disturbances inside as well as reducing the chance of problems arising in the first place by denying entry to anyone known to have been involved in unacceptable behaviors (fights, etc) in the past at JunXion —- or anywhere else. In these instances, our doormen are instructed not to engage in arguments or participate in any behavior that can cause an escalation in tension. At the door, they are instructed to simply apologize and politely inform the potential guest(s) that they are not being allowed in. This policy also extends to others in their party as well.

Regardless of the circumstances, participating in an incident at a neighboring bar is reason enough for us to deny entry and the fact is that the individual in question was observed by our security personnel involved in such an incident. This was the reason she was denied entry and it is the ONLY reason. It had absolutely nothing to do with being, or a perception of being, Transgender. She was never spoken to in an inappropriate manner, nor treated disrespectfully.

So in light of this, I fully support the decision of my doormen to deny entry to this person. I would, however, like to say that I am personally sorry that she would have assumed there was any other reason.

Lastly, I must say that I consider it unfair that the Tucson Weekly did not give us a better opportunity to respond before publishing these accusations. It was the morning after "Super Bowl Sunday." I was asleep. You waited a whole three hours for a response?

This issue as a whole is extremely serious. I take my business extremely serious. These allegations, false as they are, are extremely serious and I was taken aback by them. That being said my staff and I are hard working, respectable members of our Tucson community who did not deserve to be "reported" on without a thorough attempt to establish the facts.

I welcome any questions or concerns from the community on this matter.

Andrew Sommers
Managing Partner
The JunXioN Bar

SECOND UPDATE: Bianco posted in our comments section about her meeting with Sommers:
Met today with the general manger Andrew sommers of junxtion. And we had a long discussion on that night as well as other things. And that night was just a misunderstanding. We discussed the incident and why I wasn't allowed in and it was a misunderstanding with his staff. We had a big discussion on transgender equality and he's supportive on lgbt community. Both parties understood each other's sides. And we both learned from this experience.

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