The Republican owner of a San Antonio gay bar is running for Congress, and now patrons of the bar are organizing a boycott so queer cash doesn’t line his pocket.
Mauro Garza hopes to unseat current Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, a longtime LGBTQ+ ally, in US Congressional District 20. Garza is the owner of San Antonio’s The Pegasus, a popular nightclub with a national profile.
Garza ran in neighboring Congressional District 21 last year, failing to advance out of the primary. During that race, he wore Trump-inspired red hats reading "Make TX-21 Greater." He’s a frequent retweeter of Trump and also posts conservative memes mocking freshman House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Garza’s campaign site makes no mention of LGBTQ+ issues, though Texas is currently grappling with “turn away the gays” bills, as well as legislation that would invalidate local nondiscrimination protections. Texas lacks statewide protections for LGBTQ+ people and has no restrictions on “pray away the gay” abuse. According to he American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 90 percent of transgender Texans have been mistreated in the workplace.
On Facebook, Garza wrote, “The only LGBTQ agenda I push is that of RESPECT. I do not wish to force Americans to understand our culture and various subcultures or even to accept them.”
In response to Garza’s campaign, local activists organized a “Protest the Peg” campaign. Following announcement of a boycott, organizers criticized RuPaul's Drag Race star Kennedy Davenport for performing at the club last month.
“We must stand together to ensure that political attacks on our communities are denounced,” the group wrote. “Every time we spend our hard earned dollars at Pegasus Nightclub, we are paying to support our oppression.”
Garza wrote in June that he had transferred “responsibilities and financials” of the club to two other employees, though he made no mention of its new ownership. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission lists “MGM LLC” as the owner of the club. That company shares a post office box with M. Garza Enterprises.
If Garza wins the Republican primary, he’d face Joaquin Castro in the general election. Castro is a longtime supporter of marriage equality, and his brother, Julian, was the first San Antonio mayor to serve as grand marshall in the city’s Pride parade.
Aside from the backlash from the LGBTQ+ community, Garza may face an uphill battle in his campaign. In District 21’s 2018 Republican primary, he picked up just over 600 votes, compared to nearly 20,000 for the frontrunner in that race.
Correction: A previous version of this story conflated Joaquin Castro with his twin brother, Julian, the former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary who is running for president. We regret the error.