The employee is said to have repeatedly asked the couple to leave after she saw them holding each other affectionately in the restaurant.
A Bronx couple says they were berated and asked to leave a restaurant on January 15 after an employee took offense to their being gay. Nelson Ayala and Jamel Brown Jr. reportedly experienced disturbing treatment at La Isla Cuchifrito restaurant in the Bronx, New York, last week. According to News 12, the employee repeatedly asked the couple to leave after she saw them holding each other affectionately in the restaurant. In a video captured by the pair, the woman can be heard repeating the words "man," and "woman" in Spanish, presumably referring to the stereotypical couple as per anti-LGBTQ societal norms.
COUPLE: A Bronx couple says they were berated and asked to leave a Mott Haven restaurant simply for being gay. https://t.co/CIC4kWEJke— News12BK (@News12BK) January 16, 2021
She also told Ayala and Brown Jr. that her family has different customs and urged them to leave the premises, reports Pink News. None of the other staff members of the restaurant agreed with their homophobic co-worker and one even went as far as to agree with the couple that her colleague was out of line when she asked them to leave because of their sexuality. "Now that we have to go somewhere and be kicked out because of our sexual preference is just mind-blowing," Brown Jr. said of the disturbing incident.
"Who I love shouldn't define where I shop or eat at. I came here to get service, not to be judged."— Michelle Arezou Ross (@MRossNews) January 16, 2021
A gay Bronx couple says they were told to leave a Mott Haven restaurant after an employee told them, 'Hombre, mujer!' @News12BX @News12BK
Full story: https://t.co/olquaFIiHr pic.twitter.com/jK0lmVwgHR
Ayala agreed with his spouse, adding: "Who I love shouldn't define where I shop or eat at. I came here to get service, not to get judged." The couple ultimately canceled their order and left to call the authorities, which led to a half-hearted apology from the woman who'd asked them to leave. After news of the incident went viral, the restaurant issued also issued an apology to the couple and offered them a free meal. "We don't condone what happened in this restaurant, we've been here like I said for 15 years, we have never had a problem in this community," said Elizabeth Ocasio, manager at La Isla Cuchifrito.
If you're from the "South" Bronx, you know this spot.. And if you look closely in the background and you're from the other areas.. You migth have a good idea of where this is too.. https://t.co/vl0Rzr6na6— Dion Jordan Powell, MPA (@DION_POWELL00) January 19, 2021
"This one employee we didn’t know her behavior, we didn’t know that she'd act this way, as soon as we found out what happened, we terminated her," Ocasio added. She said that while she condemns what was said to the couple, they weren't thrown out of the restaurant because of their sexuality but because tensions were escalating. Ayala and Brown Jr. held a rally outside the restaurant on Sunday to protest the way they were treated and declined the free meal that was offered to them as an apology.
A restaurant employee in the Bronx made #homophobic comments towards a married gay couple and asked them to leave after they held each other affectionately. The restaurant apologized, fired the employee and offered the couple a free meal. https://t.co/YOewuKLfIe #LGBT #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/53KXtbiRSs— LGBT+ News (@mondokoosh) January 18, 2021
"What is a free meal going to do? We are not hungry. We want them to know that they just have to train their employees more. Have them treat people with respect just like they would want to be treated with respect behind the counter," said Brown Jr. Ocasio stated that they are very kind to everyone and that the community should feel safe coming into the restaurant. "I apologize to anyone that felt offended, that felt any kind of way... that's not us, it was only one person, one employee and she's not here no more," she said. She added that her husband had also apologized to the couple this weekend and that she is inviting the couple to come back so that she can have the opportunity to directly apologize to them as well.
Gay married couple 'kicked out' of restaurant by homophobic employee for daring to show affection in public https://t.co/dgjETZdEA6— PinkNews (@PinkNews) January 19, 2021
Their apologies seem to have come a little too late as on social media, several people have raised their voices against the discrimination faced by Ayala and Brown Jr. "Why do we still need Pride? Because this sort of thing still goes on all over the place. Vital to make a fuss every time it happens, the social power of public shaming is often underrated," wrote Twitter user Tom Doran. "This happened in ultra-liberal NYC, too. Imagine how it must be in some deep-red states."