An east Texas gay couple was asked to leave a barbecue restaurant because they apparently violated the eatery’s rules on gender norms.
Collin Dewberry and Kelly Williams said they had finished eating breakfast and paid for their meals Tuesday morning at Big Earl’s Bait House and Galey Café when a waitress used a homophobic slur and asked them never to return.
“We don’t serve fags here,” the waitress told the men, and then recited a house rule. “Here at Big Earl’s we like for men to act like men and for ladies to act like ladies, so we want you to never return.”
Dewberry said the waitress said the phrase so nonchalantly that it sounded as if she was reading it from a piece of paper – which she was, in a way.
The phrase is written on a piece of paper displayed on the front door of the Pittsburg restaurant, and its owner said the pair violated the rule by touching legs as they ate their meal.
“I didn’t go over there to inspect to see what he was rubbing,” said restaurant owner Earl Cheney. “That’s just not appropriate in a family restaurant that has a sign on the front door that we just don’t do that here.”
Cheney said other gay couple eat regularly at his restaurant, which has displayed the rule on gender norms since opening three years ago.
“You’re welcome to come and eat, but a man act like a man and a woman act like a woman,” he said. “Dress appropriately and act appropriately when you’re in a public place.”
A reporter from KLTV-TV asked the restaurant owner to specify how men and women should behave in his restaurant.
“The same thing it says,” Cheney said. “That a man’s supposed to stand up and be a leader. He’s not supposed to be a woman. He’s not supposed to come in here in a dress.”
Cheney said his daughter was the waitress who used the slur during the encounter.
“She’s a young lady, didn’t know what else to say, and they just kept on and she finally said we just don’t like fags,” he said.
Cheney said surveillance video, which he declined to share, shows the men badgering his daughter, and he said she became flustered.
“She didn’t know what else to say,” he said. “She was frustrated and flustered, you know, and they were going out just laughing and carrying on.”
Dewberry said he didn’t know how to react, because he’d never encountered such hateful behavior in the area where he’s lived his entire life.
“I laughed,” he said. “I was shocked. I didn’t know really how to react.”
Dewberry said he’s been encouraged by the supportive comments posted on social media and review sites for the restaurant.
Watch this video report posted online by KLTV-TV: