Recently, a group of local performers from G.L.A.M. Night and their friends from out of town were turned away after asking to try on dresses at Epris in the Gateway Mall.
“I’ve never had an issue like this before,” says Reyes Rivera, aka Rhea Della Vera of G.L.A.M. Night.
G.L.A.M. (Gays, Lesbians and More) is a well-known Eugene dance party with drag queens, DJs, performances and go-go dancers. It was previously held at John Henry’s and more recently at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge.
Rivera was with his partner and their friends on Oct. 6 when they asked to try on some dresses at the store.
“The employee giggled and said ‘Sorry, I can’t let you in there. There’s people in there,’” Rivera says.
Rivera said he did later speak to the employee who made the statement, who was “apologetic,” and to the assistant manager, who told Rivera that the employee “didn’t get the memo that gays are allowed in the dressing room.”
Assistant Manager Kim McGeehon says the dressing rooms were full on Oct. 6 with mothers and daughters preparing for homecoming, and while the store “doesn’t allow men” in the dressing room, it does “allow gay men.” She said it was a miscommunication that could have been handled better, and in the past it has never been a problem.
Rivera called the store owner at least four times with no call back, although McGeehon said this is likely due to frequent traveling between stores.
“We were shocked. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about treating everyone equally,” Rivera says.
Rivera stresses that the incident was “unusual,” and that in the four years he has been living in Eugene he has never experienced an incident like this at any store, local or corporate, including Forever 21, Kitsch-22, Charlotte Russe, Buffalo Exchange, Hot Topic and Wet Seal.
“I’ve been to most stores in this town and it’s never been a problem. This is the only time this has ever happened to me,” Rivera says.