AUSTIN, Texas — Drag queen Erika Klash said she was denied entry to an Austin Whataburger because she was dressed in drag.
Klash posted about what she said happened on Facebook and Twitter – and Whataburger responded on both platforms.
Klash, who lives in San Francisco, told KVUE that she was in Austin performing at the International Drag Festival over the weekend. She said it was her fifth consecutive year performing during the festival.
She was performing at the club Elysium, dressed as the character Monokuma, from the video game series Danganronpa. This is what she was wearing:
Klash said after the performance, she met up with a friend to go to the Whataburger on Guadalupe Street near the UT Austin campus. She said she doesn't normally stay in her full drag when going to restaurants, but because it was late and she wanted to take pictures at the hotel, she stayed in it.
She said when they got to the Whataburger, the drive-thru line was really long so she and her friend decided to go inside.
She said they walked over to the door and security met them there.
“The security guard blocked me from entering. I kind of took a step back because I didn’t want to seem like a threat. And I knew that there was – there was a lot of folks in the establishment and I sort of felt intimidated, outnumbered. So I took a step back and the security guard said something about me not being able to go inside to my friend," Klash said.
She said she avoided arguing and decided to leave right away.
“I don’t know how much of that was founded, I just knew that I was in drag – I was the only person in drag, so I felt like the appropriate response was to just back off and retreat and to go somewhere else," Klash said. “There was really no assessment of whether I was a security risk ... it was just a sort of [a] quick snap decision before I got through the door."
She said she did not have any props on her at the time and that after she and her friend left that location, they went to a different Whataburger – this time through the drive-thru – and got their food with no problems.
Whataburger told KVUE in a statement:
"We’re sorry for the experience Erika had at Whataburger. We love all of our customers and have since spoken with Erika while we continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding her visit." – Whataburger Corporate Communications
Klash said something like that has never happened to her before, but she also said this won't stop her from going to Whataburger in the future.
“I don’t believe in sort of cancelling Whataburger or boycotting them. I don’t particularly believe that anyone should be fired or dismissed. Really, what I hope for is … more transparency, perhaps better training for Whataburger staff" she said. "Drag artists are so often undervalued and under-appreciated in our society. We are professional artists and all we want is to be treated with respect when we go to a place like Whataburger."
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