A gay man was removed from a pool party this weekend because of what he was wearing. Chris Donohoe, a gay New Yorker, was on vacation in Vegas when he was escorted out of the Encore Beach Club, according to his post on Facebook.
Chris, a guest of Wynn Las Vegas (the hotel that owns and operates the Encore Beach Club), was visiting Las Vegas with a business partner and celebrating his birthday. In the post that was accompanied by a video on Facebook, Chris says “I was made to leave the pool for wearing a Mr. Turk bathing suit that they said was not ‘in integrity’ with the brand of the pool party. In other words, I was kicked out for being a gay man wearing a bathing suit that was just a little too gay for The Encore Beach Club Las Vegas to tolerate….This is what homophobia looks like.”
The Encore Beach Club website, which has its beach club attire policy published, makes no mention of the “no speedo” policy it enforced on Mr. Donohoe at the entrance. The website lists appropriate attire as “swimming suits” and then has a list of prohibited attire, which includes: baggy clothes, jeans or pants, athletic gear and a few others. It is worth noting that there is a small “no speedos” sign located on the outside of the venue itself.
According to Donohoe, he was already at the pool for a couple hours when a pair of male pool guests walked by him, began pointing at him and laughing.
“Being gay, you’re used to that sort of thing, so I didn’t even make an issue of it,” he tells INTO. “I didn’t even mention it to the person I was with.”
A few moments later, a couple members of the security staff escorted him to the side and began telling Donohoe he had to change.
After being told by a member of the staff that his bathing suit was not in line with the “integrity of the brand,” Donohoe asked them “What about this does not keep with the integrity of your brand?” to which they had no definitive answer. Shortly after, he left.
“I did not know I could be made to feel this ashamed and this humiliated,” Donohue says. “Now, I remember what it’s like to be that kid who is bullied because of being who he is and expressing himself.”
These kinds of discriminatory policies are all too familiar to members of marginalized communities like the Black community, which is often targeted through universal policies that ban clothing items like white T-shirts, baggy pants, hats, or durags. A look through the venue’s website and event calendar largely boasts a list of DJs that are heterosexual white men like DJ Snake, Galanti, and Diplo.
Targeted discriminatory practices like “no speedos” cater to heteronormative views of masculinity and perpetuate the oppression of specific groups that don’t believe in those repressive ideals. Denying men the option to wear speedos only creates a system that encourages and incites mockery of those who do. That mockery is standard issue homophobia. Creating an atmosphere and vibe at a party is well within the rights of any venue, but if doing so comes at the cost of dignity for those who want to attend or contributes to the humiliation and maligning of prospective guests, how good of a party is it?
Britney Spears has been out of Vegas a few months and things are already rapidly declining.
Wynn Las Vegas has not responded to a request for comment.
Update 8/8/18: Wynn Las Vegas has provided the following statement from the CMO of Wynn Resorts, Michael Weaver, regarding the recent incident.
“In order to maintain a five-star experience, Wynn Las Vegas requests that guests adhere to certain dress code policies throughout the resort. In the Encore Beach Club, we had a policy, clearly posted at the entrance, which prohibited Speedos. Upon receiving a guest complaint, we reviewed the policy and have changed it. The new policy will allow Speedos, but will prohibit risqué and indecent swimwear for both men and women. We will include the new policy on entry signage, as well as the club website, in order to help guests plan appropriately and enjoy a welcoming environment. We apologize to the guest who was affected by our previous policy.
Regarding LGBTQ+ guests, our policy has been clear and consistent for years: Wynn welcomes and appreciates all of our LGBTQ+ guests. Decisions to enforce policies are solely based on guest behavior, or in this case, attire. We have always and will continue to apply attire policies equally to all of our guests, regardless of sexual orientation.”