Told they need to be accompanied by a man

A San Francisco lesbian couple felt humiliated during their recent trip to Florida. According to Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa and Heather Cox, both 39, management of Dean's Gold, a "gentleman's club" in North Miami Beach, denied entry to "the ladies" because they were not in the company of a man. In a series of interviews with a variety of publications, including Miami New Times, Otalvaro-Hormillosa and Cox said that incidents like these were a recurring problem in men's clubs around the country.

Dean's Gold, which features scantily clad women in its ads, primarily caters to a straight male clientele. Cox and Otalvaro-Hormillosa say that the club's official policy of denying entry to "single ladies" who are not in the company of a man is discriminatory. The women have filed a discrimination complaint against the club with The Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights.

"Equal is equal," Miami based attorney Matthew Dietz told SFGN. Dietz is representing Cox and Otalvaro-Hormillosa. "The sex industry caters to anachronistic attitudes and people will pay to be 'treated like a man' in the Hugh Hefner mold. There is no valid reason why a man needs to accompany a woman to see a lesbian show."

"For me it was like feeling second class," Otalvaro-Hormillosa said to SFGN.

"Do we really have to explain why we want to go?" Cox asked. "It's a free country. Sex and pleasure are essential to human nature. This is a civil rights issue."

Cox also spoke of how humiliated the couple felt at the treatment accorded to them. "I walked away with my head down," she said.

"Civil rights mostly neglect sexual behavior," Dietz pointed out. "To deny or belittle any human being for engaging in lawful sexual entertainment is demeaning. To make it the exclusive province of a man is primitive."

The complaint filed against Dean's Gold states "I believe that I have subjected to unlawful discrimination based on my sex (Female) and sexual orientation (Homosexual) in violation of Chapter 760 of the Florida Statutes, as amended, and chapter 11A of the Miami-Dade code, as amended."

Chapter 760 states in part: "It is against the law to refuse accommodation or service to any person on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin or physical disability."

Chapter 760 also applies these standards to membership in private clubs.

Cox and Otalvaro-Hormillosa are not yet sure if they'll seek monetary damages against Dean's Gold.

"We're asking for an end to the discrimination," Cox said. "From there we'll decide if we want to sue for damages."

Otalvaro-Hormillosa said that they'd been hearing from other women who've had this happen to them. "As queer people and women we've been harassed on the street," she said. "Throughout history in many cultures women have been abused because of being out on the street without a man."

Management of Dean's Gold did not respond to SFGN's phone call requesting a comment.