A Drag Queen Says a Dallas Dress Shop Discriminated, Refusing to Let Him Try on a Gown [Updated]

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Stacey McBride O'Neil
Terry Costa owner Tina Loyd would like it on the record that she fully supports cross dressers. Her North Dallas dress shop happily supplies the gowns for any number of men competing in local drag shows and employs a pageant consultant who often attends the events in support of customers.

That said, she's still not letting men use the store's dressing rooms.

Loyd implemented the ban several years ago after noticing a sharp spike in theft as her male client base increased. "Our most expensive gowns were disappearing almost as soon as they arrived," she recently wrote in a letter to a customer explaining the policy.

She continues:

We found sensors on the floor, tickets hidden under chairs, inexpensive gowns that were not our own hung in our garment bags--mocking our anti-theft efforts. As our efforts increased this client base became physically aggressive and verbally abusive, essentially (and oftentimes literally) pushing over my consultants and causing scene after scene in the store. After one particularly abusive gentleman left the store we noticed one of his selections was missing. My Pageant Consultant (who attended many of the local cross-dressing Pageants in support of friends and clients) decided to attend such a pageant the following weekend. There he was, competing in the very dress he stole from us, a dress that had not been widely distributed or available for order. He didn't even bother to take the pins out we used to fit the dress since it was too big.

We repeatedly asked the Dallas Police Department for help to no avail. I researched security cameras, etc. but there was no affordable option. Our landlord finally stepped in when they realized the extent of the problem: We had lost over $50,000 worth of gowns.

So when Steven Havard, who performs as Stacey McBride O'Neil, made the trip from northeastern Oklahoma on May 11 to outfit himself for the Miss Gay Oklahoma America Pageant, his request to try on a $1,300 dress was denied.

He took it very personally.

"I was made to feel like a second-rate person when I went into Terry Costa," O'Neil told the Dallas Voice, which first reported the story. "I made a nearly five-hour drive to try to find a gown for the Miss Gay Oklahoma America Pageant and was treated like dirt."

He posted an angry account of his experience on Terry Costa's Facebook page so that "no one else will have to endure the heartache, humiliation and hate I had to experience." The comment was promptly taken down by the company, and Loyd wrote the letter we quoted from.

We have a call into Terry Costa for comment. Nothing yet. But it seems that Loyd's letter didn't do much to soothe O'Neil's feelings. He told the Voice that it was worse than the original encounter because it implied he was a thief.

(Update at 4:36 p.m.: Loyd called to it was "never our intention" to offend O'Neil. The store simply informed him politely that they don't allow men to try on dresses. The theft was part of the reason for the ban. The other part is the fact that female customers were uncomfortable changing in the same area as men. And the changing areas simply weren't built to accommodate both sexes. "We are a women's clothing store and we only have a women's dressing room."

The majority of Terry Costa clients, Loyd says, are 14-18 year old girls shopping for formal dresses. Back when the store did allow men to try on gowns, their parents complained.

Loyd said she has friends and employees who are gay and that the store's refusal to let men try on dresses is "not a discrimination thing." Rather, she described it as a logical decision by a privately owned business that caters exclusively to women.)

The Voice also reports that O'Neil filed a complaint with the Dallas Fair Housing Office, which is tasked with enforcing the city's anti-discrimination ordinance in regards to employment and public accommodations as well as housing. A worker in the office confirmed the receipt of the complaint and are trying to confirm that it came from O'Neil and not the Voice.

The ordinance, passed in 2002, says businesses cannot "directly or indirectly exclude, segregate, limit, refuse, or deny the accommodations, advantages, facilities, benefits, privileges, services, or goods offered to the general public at that place." Violations of the ordinance carry a maximum $500 fine.

We'll see what the city decides. Meanwhile, when he's not lobbying against Terry Costa, O'Neil is preparing for the Miss Gay Oklahoma America Pageant in June. He's already found another dress.

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37 comments
MissMacy
MissMacy

Years ago I was shopping in a small plus-size boutique in Chicago and heard a man's voice in the dressing room next to mine. I told the owner I would never set foot in her store again if she allowed drag queens and crossdressers to use women's dressing rooms. She asked me if I had any other suggestions (because drag queens were her customers, too) so I told her she should open privately two nights a week just for the men. And she did!

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Since u left us on Friday "updated" in drag...I suggest u let one of the girls do a weekend story.

Tone soaps us rarely.

I guess the staff is locked out on weekends.

It's a big cumshot after the weekend starting way to early on a Monday/Holiday morning with post starting at 4-5am. Yup. Been holding all weekend long.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Shouldn't a future Ms Gay Oklahoma be shopping at walmart anyway?

JackJett
JackJett

This is not about gay rights.

 Mr. Harvard. is a man and his hobby is being a drag queen.That is his “choice” of a hobby.While he was born gay, he was not born a drag queen.That does not allow him to try on costumes in an area designed for women.Nor do I want women in the same area I try on clothes when shopping.

So to be clear, this is about the perceived rights of a guy with a hobby who happens to be gay.For anyone to make it about gay rights is taking a cheap shot at a local business owner who has gone above and beyond the call of duty as a gay ally with regards to this situation.

MattL11
MattL11

This seems like less of a problem arising out of men trying on dresses, and more of one caused by this shop's seemingly staggering inability to keep track of its inventory. Shouldn't be that difficult to make sure your customers aren't walking out wearing your dresses. 

Kellene Cain
Kellene Cain

Not at all surprised...that is an awful place.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Why doesn't a 1 dress limit do the trick???  and a dressing room attendant who can count to 5 reliably?

Nadia Elizabeth Santoyo
Nadia Elizabeth Santoyo

My tranny friend was not allowed to try on high heels at Sam Moon, I felt so bad for him/her, I felt so outrage for him/her!!!

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

Dudes can't use chicks dressing rooms? What a drag.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Apparently Ms. Loyd never heard of "Ticked Off Trannies With Knives.

pak152
pak152

O'Neil needs to point his anger at the perps who caused TC to implement this policy. not whine about TC and claiming to feel humiliated. what a drama queen

ruddski
ruddski

"...heartache, humiliation and hate..."

I'll bet the lad is still weeping. Hopefully, the law will come down hard on his /her tormenter, giving him/ her back his/her sense if manhood/womanhood.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

They "lost over $50,000 worth of gowns" but the DPD did nothing? $50,000! And "no affordable option" for security cameras? Please. Having been wedding dress shopping, prom dress shopping, ball gown shopping, ETC. it's very easy for a consultant to keep track of the gowns a customer tries on. There's a lot more to this than those lame excuses from Terry Costa.

(Disclaimer: Haven't shopped at TC in YEARS. I assume they now assign a consultant to assist with dresses, especially when you're selling $1,000+ gowns. If not, they're idiots.)

Bobtex
Bobtex

The ordinance seems to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Terry Costa's policy is not based on sexual orientation--it is based on gender alone.  All men, not just gay men, are banned from the dressing rooms.  So Miss Gay Oklahoma Wanabee will have to find another legal theory.  Not to mention that the City of Dallas does not enforce its antidiscrimination policy anyway.  It is there, on paper, and on your screen, but I would bet that few, if any, complaints ever result in enforcement action.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Well if Rick Perry can try them on I just don't see the problem with letting girlfriend do so as well.

JackJett
JackJett

Really if someone wants to be entertained in 2013 with female impressionism, the should turn on the TV. 

M...I am not sure a Miss Bamboo or Ms. Gay Oklahoma should shop for dresses but it sounds lik the opening of a good joke.

Speaking of which...I bought the domain name PopeFrancis.biz and am trying to figure out what to with it.   Any thoughts M?

James080
James080 topcommenter

@Montemalone  

Montemalone, I'm going to have to defer to you in these matters....but WalMart does sound just about right.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

She's been waiting for you to get your ass out off cROSSdress for less and pick her fat ass up.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@JackJett I feel sorry for women if this leads to some sort of policy change in regards to mens vs womens dressing rooms. When I was a kid, I knew several guys that would happily claim to be a drag queen if that meant they could grab some piece of clothing and legally go into the womens dressing room every time that they saw a hot chick on her way back there. Hell, in middle school I probably would have been one of those guys. We didn't have the internet back then and naked chicks were much harder to come by. And cum by.

JackJett
JackJett

There is a difference between a transexual and a drag queen.  And I only point that out as it can be very confusing.  Mr Harvard is not transexual, but is someone pursuing a career as an entertainer. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Kimberly Heard 

Big mistake. . . BIG mistake!

JackJett
JackJett

Bobtex....I have read many of your comments and 98 percent of them I find you sum up the story best.

If you are on HuffPo under another name..please track me down.

JackJett
JackJett

JS.....Yeppers..same thang here but in reverse...I had to steal a Playgirl magazine from the local convenience store in Grand Prairie....and had to be content with Lyle Waggoner.

If I would haved had the Internet back then, I would never have left my home and thus missed out on my three year career working in Casa Magnetica at Six Flags over Texas........

JustSaying
JustSaying

@JackJett The I wont show you mine if you don't show me yours was a reference to our porn, not our man junk. I have been on a bit of a big natural boobs porn kick lately, so I think that I might find your porn somewhat lacking.

JackJett
JackJett

JS....I have always thought gay men have far more in common with straight men that we give ourselves credit for.  I have lived witht he same man for 20 plus years and 80 percent of our friends are straight  and most married.  So yeah...more in common than not.....but I am not going to show you mine as I fear it would somehow make you feel inadequate.....I'm Just Saying......;0

JustSaying
JustSaying

@JackJett Exactly. See, that's the dialogue that guys need to open. Gay straight, its all the same. We all were horny bastards that had to rely on found porn in the woods or on the top of a random trash gondola. The easiest way to relate is the least common denominator. That's the one. Lets change the world together, Jack. Just don't show me yours and I wont show you mine and we together can make a difference.

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