During Pride Month, a time to honor and center the LGBTQ+ community, media tends to fill with stories that celebrate inclusive efforts everywhere from small bakeries to state or federal policy. That’s great, of course, but as LGBTQ+ folks know, queerphobia exists every day, everywhere, whether it’s June or not. As a gay couple in Lafayette, Indiana, alleges, the pair went to an Arby’s franchise location for some food and wound up reading a homophobic slur on their receipt.
John Burns and Craig Gray, who have been partners for 17 years, say they went to an Arby’s on Saturday, where everything felt normal as they ordered and got their food. It was Gray who noticed the homophobic slur printed on their receipt in the name section, however, and he reports feeling confusion and “shock,” adding to 13News that “nothing like that’s ever happened.”
From there, Burns says he confronted the employee who took their order. According to Burns, the employee claimed it was a computer mistake. According to Gray, a manager became involved at that point, and was “very apologetic,” including comping their meal. In speaking to WTHR, Burns said he returned to their table in the restaurant and continued eating, and moments later, noticed the employee who had taken their order “walking down the road.” As confirmed by a spokesperson for Arby’s, the employee has been terminated.
The company relayed that it has inclusivity training already and noted that they have tried reaching out to the couple directly since the incident. In a statement to 13News, Arby’s described the incident as “a clear violation of our standards and values as a brand. The incident resulted in immediate termination.”
Burns described the employee as initially seeming nice, and new on the job. He stressed to local outlet WLFI that the employee “learned this behavior somewhere,” adding that, “there are some people out there that don’t get people out there are like this and that’s wrong.” While it’s easy for most to identify the employee’s behavior as wrong and reprehensible, these actions and mindsets don’t exist in a vacuum, and punishing people on a case-by-case basis doesn’t actually change systemic queerphobia.
“I realized this doesn’t affect me the way it does some people,” Burns stated to 13News. “So you’re kind of obligated to speak up for those that can’t speak up. … There are people out there who need help because this is a big issue.”
Burns touches on a significant point, here: not everyone will feel safe or comfortable advocating for themselves and drawing attention to hate they receive. Especially for people who live with multiple marginalized identities—say, a trans woman of color or a queer sex worker—it may feel dangerous to speak up. It’s scary for anyone, too, in the sense that you don’t know if people in power will support you or not. Shame and internalized homophobia (or transphobia, etc) can also be barriers in self-advocacy in the face of hate.
Thinking about justice, protections, and inclusivity on the state and federal level are deeply important. There’s no denying the power that comes in technically having anti-discrimination laws or policies in place, or knowing that the government has your back. That said, hate and queerphobia still live on, regardless of where you live or what setting you’re in, and that’s a problem that can’t be fixed purely through legislation. Whether hate crops up when trans kids are trying to play sports, a couple is applying for an apartment, or partners are trying to grab a quick meal, it’s exhausting, isolating, and frankly, unacceptable.
You can catch a brief interview with the couple below.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.