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Downtown Austin bar accused of turning away gay customers

Downtown Austin bar accused of turning away gay customers

KVUE -- At the end of a downtown Austin street lined with rainbow flags sits a bar called Red Room (with no affiliation to the Red Room Lounge). "It's been a gay bar. They opened up on Fourth St. as a gay bar," said former Red Room bartender Josh Moon.

On Friday, July 19, however, Moon says that all changed when the owners brought in a new promoter. "They pulled all the bartenders in the back and they said, 'Well, we're not going to call this a gay bar anymore, we're going to call it a straight bar,'" Moon said.

Gay patrons say on that night, they were kicked out of Red Room.

Speaking via a lawyer, the owners tell KVUE a private party rented the bar for the night and it was the private party that kicked people out, which is within their legal right.

However, Moon says a Facebook invite for the night in question does not mention a private event, instead calling it a "grand opening" that would last for the next several weekends. "I think they were going to make it a continued thing and bring these people back every weekend, because that's how they made it sound to us," says Moon.

The owners say there was a new dress code enforced that night, but Moon says it was enforced unfairly. "They said no shorts, no hats, no this ... But then they were letting people in with shorts and letting people in with hats. They were turning gay people away just for being gay."

He says he went to find security and heard the "door guy say word for word, 'This is not a gay bar anymore, you're not welcome. You can't come in.'"

That's when Moon decided to leave, and he was fired the next day.

"I can't morally respect myself and be okay with this and stay here and work for you when you're turning all of my people away. You opened up a bar on Fourth St. in the gay strip. You can't do this to people."

The lawyer for the owners say they want to remain an open and inviting bar for everyone. They also say they regret what happened that night, and they will be more careful in the future when hosting private events.

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NOTE: Red Room Lounge at 306 E. Third St. is in no way affiliated with the Red Room bar mentioned above.

Read the full story on KVUE.com.

Red Room austin
An Austin bar is accused of turning away gay customers. Courtesy photo