herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Drag queen turned away by taxi driver over 'inappropriate' outfit

Drag artist Paul Ryder
Drag artist Paul Ryder

A Dublin drag queen was refused a lift in a taxi because the driver felt his costume was "an issue of hygiene".

Popular performer and drag act Paul Ryder (28) was turned away after the taxi driver saw his "inappropriate" outfit.

Ryder was dressed in a black leotard paired with black boots, fishnet tights and a top hat for an appearance at an IT Tallaght student's union event in Tallaght village on Wednesday evening, and booked the taxi through Hailo to collect him from his home.

"It would be general attire for a gig - I dress as the character of a ringmaster," Paul told the Herald. "It's not as if I came out wearing a bra and knickers, every bit of me was covered."

Paul explained how the taximan, Kilternan man Declan Harrington, declined to bring him to the event as he walked from his home to the car.

"When he called me to tell me he was outside I asked him to turn around and pull in as close as possible to the gate so I could get into the taxi as quickly as possible," he said.

"As I walked to the taxi he looked out the window and said 'No way'."

Speaking last night, Mr Harrington said his refusal was not homophobic in nature but that he was "uncomfortable" with the way the panto choreographer was dressed.

Cheeks

"From what I could see, most of the cheeks of his bum were exposed. So I was in shock and said 'I'm sorry, but you're inappropriately dressed' - and he turned around and went back into the house," he said.

"I couldn't have a bare bottom on the seat like that. I've picked up people over the last eight years from all walks of life at all times but never someone that was exposed in such a way in that area."

The Dublin driver also said that he offered to make amends by getting in contact with Tallaght native Ryder, who made an official complaint to Hailo about the incident.

"When I heard he was upset I offered to ring him up and apologise, I had no intention of hurting his feelings," he said. "Maybe I could have worded it better, maybe it was lack of communication in that he was taking it up as one thing and I was trying to say another."

Paul explained that, although he did not wish for the taxi driver to be removed from the app, he should be more sensitive in future situations.

"In the second that it happens you say to yourself 'Am I wrong to dress like this?', but I've dressed like this for 10 years and no one has ever had a problem before," he said.

"I'm old and ugly enough to deal with this stuff. I'd be more worried if it was a trans person who had built up the courage to leave the house for the first time."

A spokeswoman for Hailo confirmed last night that the incident was under investigation.

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