This Androgynous Person Was Turned Away From A Lounge For Wearing A Skirt, And They're Ready For Discrimination To End

·4 min read

This is Pako Zolanski, a 25-year-old sales rep who recently met up with friends to celebrate one of their birthdays at a lounge in Marietta, Georgia. However, Pako, who uses they/he/she pronouns, was stopped at the door and ultimately denied entry for "not dressing his gender."

In a now-viral video of the incident outside of the Monticello ATL, Pako can be seen standing by as the manager of the lounge explains: "When you go some places, they say, 'We can deny service to anyone.' We are not denying him service. What we're saying is he must dress his gender. If he dresses his gender, he is more than welcome to come inside."

@pakozolanski

@auntkaren0 @Danesh please take a look at this. HELP!! This is Monticello ATL in Marietta. Discrimination in 2022?? #viral #fypシ #fyp #foryoupage #gay #trans #lgbt

♬ original sound - Pako Zolanski

Pako's friends all start speaking at once, and some voices rising above the crowd say the lounge's actions are "unacceptable," to which the manager says, "I'm not gon' argue with y'all."

Meanwhile, as the back and forth continues, Pako can be seen standing near the back of the group, silently watching the debate in a red skirt, leather heels, and a Stranger Things T-shirt. With eyes downcast, one of their friends reaches forward, beckoning their attention before reminding them,

Meanwhile, as the back and forth continues, Pako can be seen standing near the back of the group, silently watching the debate in a red skirt, leather heels, and a Stranger Things T-shirt. With eyes downcast, one of their friends reaches forward, beckoning their attention before reminding them, "You. I love you. Fuck this shit."

TikTok: @pakozolanski / Via tiktok.com

To add more context to the situation, BuzzFeed reached out to Pako, who said that, before the video began, they had approached the bouncer with their ID and were immediately told that they wouldn't be allowed in. "I asked him 'Why?' He said, 'You don't look like your ID.' I was so confused. I just took that photo. So I asked if it was my hair or my makeup, [and] he said, 'I cant let you in with the skirt on.'"

In a follow-up video, Pako said that in the moment, they searched for a sign about the dress code, but instead saw a man nearby in slides and a hoodie and a woman wearing a pantsuit, which confused them further.

In a follow-up video, Pako said that in the moment, they searched for a sign about the dress code, but instead saw a man nearby in slides and a hoodie and a woman wearing a pantsuit, which confused them further.

TikTok: @pakozolanski / Via tiktok.com

People in the comment section of Pako's video seem equally confused. Some pointed out that they look very different from their ID photo on any given day and have never run into this issue:

  TikTok: @pakozolanski / Via tiktok.com
TikTok: @pakozolanski / Via tiktok.com

And others felt as though the ID photo was an excuse, because how Pako dresses would not have been fully displayed in picture:

one person said "your pants wouldn't even be in the ID photo too what"
TikTok: @pakozolanski / Via tiktok.com

BuzzFeed reached out to Monticello for comment, and we will update you if they respond.

Previously, the lounge released this public apology on Facebook:

"On behalf of the Leadership of The Monticello Restaurant and Bistro, we would like to issue a public apology to the woman involved in the incident at our entry, Friday night (1/14/2022). Our organization is built off of a diverse workforce and it is our intention to serve all of our customers and clients fairly at all times. We have served and provided top level entertainment to the Metro Atlanta area for over 30 years. We are known and respected in our industry for our open hiring policies, diverse entertainment activities, and our philanthropy which is directed to communities who are underserved. We are proud to have several members of the LGBTQIA community on staff with our company. Unfortunately, the incident that took place on 1/14/2022 did not represent the policies and procedure of our organization. Our policy states that one must be easily identified by their state issued identification at entry. Moving forward we are taking the following actions to ensure that aforementioned incident does not occur again:

1) The employee in question has received disciplinary action

2) Our organization will undergo Sensitivity training

3) Our organization will communicate to ALL STAFF our policies and procedures which reflect an open and welcoming environment for all persons

It is our goal to continue to serve the metro Atlanta community with entertainment, great food, and networking opportunities. It is our mission to provide an open and welcoming environment. We believe that all persons have the right to live their truth and should be respected as such. Again, we apologize for the unfortunate situation.

Many Thanks, The Monticello Management."

When looking back on the interaction, Pako remembers feeling "angry" and "devastated," saying, "I felt absolutely crushed and embarrassed. It was humiliating," they said. "People have a right to live in their truth. We see so many young people nowadays who do not feel comfortable within themselves and think they have no choices. I cried myself to sleep that night feeling ostracized and not accepted."

According to Pako, their group of friends were issued a refund of $200 for their section, but this did not cover the pre-paid price of food, drinks, or hookah included in their reservation. Pako said they have reached out to the lounge but management has not responded and, besides the public Facebook post, they have not received a personal apology or outreach.