Houston’s only lesbian bar denied insurance for hosting drag shows: report
Posted For: Willie Wonka, HMFWIC
The only lesbian bar in Houston was denied insurance coverage because it hosts drag shows, according to a report.
Julie Mabry, the owner of Pearl Bar in Houston — one of the only two lesbian bars in all of Texas — told NPR that proposed state legislation targeting LGBTQ+ rights is to blame for the rejection, which would put her business in jeopardy.
“The first sentence in [the rejection email] said, ‘We will not write this risk due to drag,’” Mabry told the outlet.
The unnamed insurance company reportedly flagged drag shows — which have recently become increasingly controversial across the nation — as a “risk” too lofty to take on.
Marby said it was the first time she had ever heard of insurance companies weighing the risk of drag performances when considering whether to cover a business.
“Obviously, my first reaction was ‘That’s discrimination.’ In the almost 10 years of being in business, drag has never been a reason why they won’t write the risk,” Mabry said.
Marby told the outlet this is the first time she had struggled to find insurance overage since opening Pearl Bar in 2013.
Though her current policy doesn’t expire until December, Marby fears she will struggle to find a replacement plan as impending anti-drag legislation inches toward passage.
“I’m not a victim, and this isn’t a pity party. This is more about awareness,” said Mabry, who said she is sharing her story to encourage others to contact their politicians in an effort to halt the sweeping anti-LGBTQ+ laws across the state.
One bill that would prohibit drag shows — labeled in the text as “certain sexually oriented performances” — on public property, on commercial premises or in the presence of a child passed the Texas House on Friday after it was passed by the Senate last month.
If the measure is signed into law, violators could be subjected to civil penalties of up to $10,000.
While Texas is one of 16 states considering laws that would restrict the audiences for drag shows and where they can take place, Tennessee is the only state to have enacted legislation, though it has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
Last month, the Texas Department of Agriculture released a new dress code requiring its employees to dress in a “manner consistent with their biological gender.”
“Pearl needs everyone to speak up for us so that we can stay open and HOST DRAG SHOWS! It’s THAT serious,” a post on the Pearl Bar Instagram account said.
“We are in the final stretch of session and every voice counts in pushing back on this and the other anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“We need you to step up, be loud, and tell your legislators NO to any anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Our state should be open to all, period.”