A young, autistic gay man in England who uses clothing to express his identity was turned away from a swanky restaurant because a doorman found his leopard-print pants to be "too, too much."
The incident took place earlier this week when 21-year-old Brandon Rogers and his family went to celebrate his sister's birthday at the 20 Stories restaurant and bar in Manchester where he alone was denied entry. Rogers spoke with the Manchester Evening News and posted to social media about the incident.
"He looked me up and down three times and it felt like he was looking at me judgmentally," Rogers told the Evening News. "The bouncer said everyone else could come in but there was an issue with what I was wearing. My dad asked why and he said what I was wearing was too casual, gesturing towards my pants."
Citing a "smart casual" dress code, the doorman told Rogers "jeans were allowed but what I was wearing was 'too, too much.'"
Rogers wasn't the only family member taking to social media to air their anger with 20 Stories. His sister was equally outraged, especially since her brother was "the best-dressed out of all of us" that evening.
Rogers told the Evening News he uses his clothing to express and affirm his identity, something he finds difficult to do at times due to his autism.
"Queer people are suppressed and made to feel different our entire lives. I'm personally not a very confident person so the way I present myself with dangly earrings and patterned clothing makes me feel that little bit more confident and happy within myself," he said. "Having autism as well makes it really difficult for me to find ways to express myself and feel comfortable within my own skin, so businesses discriminating against me like this could potentially tear down all of that."
He went on to say he didn't understand why women wearing the same leopard-skin print were observed being let into the restaurant, but he wasn't.
"It was clearly subconscious homophobia -- something which I am used to."
D&D London, the parent company that owns 20 Stories, issued an apology to Rogers for the incident.
"We would like to apologize to Brandon, Paris, and their party for the upset this incident has caused and that the group were refused entry from 20 Stories," D&D said in the statement. "Since opening, we have implemented a dress code policy at 20 Stories. On this occasion, our door team, reception desk, and manager did not believe that the dress code had been adhered to and made the decision to refuse entry."
The statement went on to note the company's zero-discrimination policies, as well as their past work "with the LGBT Foundation to develop a training programme for all D&D employees which is now a standard as part of their ongoing training and development."
Despite the apology and statement, Rogers made clear he was tired of people discriminating against him and the expression of his identity.
"I'm sick of people having this rose-tinted view of the world being so much more equal and better now, but these high-end venues don't cater to people like me because I'm not their target audience," he said.
"I'm at a point where I know I want to dress like this and be like this," he told the Evening News. "I'm not going to change that just to be accepted by a certain place or certain people."
RELATED | Elderly English Man Tortured with Taser, Electric Drill by Grindr Date