A Toronto man with Tourette syndrome says he was kicked out of a downtown nightclub after a bouncer mistook his tic for a sign that he was using drugs.
Graham Kent says he was at Crews and Tangos, a busy Church Street bar, with his girlfriend and a group of friends two weekends ago when a bouncer approached him and asked him to leave.
"I said 'are you kicking me out?'" Kent recalls.
He said the bouncer told him he was "not comfortable" with him being in the club, and that the establishment has a "zero drug policy."
Only when he was out on the street, Kent said, did he realize the bouncer may have seen his tic — an uncontrolled, repetitive movement where he rubs his nose with his thumb and forefinger several times — and mistaken him for a cocaine-user.
He tried to reason with the bouncers, but he said they didn't listen, which was the most frustrating part for him.
"It's no secret that I have Tourette's," he said.
"Ask me as many questions as you want. I'm happy to talk about it,"
Still, despite his pleas — Kent said he was calm throughout the encounter and wasn't intoxicated — security staff would not listen or let him back inside.
Similar situations common
Melissa Muskat, a volunteer with the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, says this kind of thing happens with some regularity to people with Tourette syndrome.
"We have had incidents where someone has been asked to leave a movie theatre because of their tics, whether vocal or perhaps motor but noticeable,"
More seriously, she said, some people with the neurological disorder have problems keeping their apartments because landlords feel they're making too much noise.
After the incident, Kent emailed the club's ownership, but heard nothing back after 11 days. He has since written a Reddit post to warn other people about what happened to him.
"If other people are going to go there, expect this kind of thing could happen to you," he said.
Crews and Tangos management said it is talking with the bouncers involved to get their side of the story and will then contact Kent.
Kent said while an apology from the club would be nice, he's also looking for a chance to educate people about his condition.