Remember the Seinfeld episode where a reporter thinks that Jerry and George are gay? Jerry repeatedly says that he’s not, each time adding, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Well, that’s the cry coming from a couple of straight guys in Britain, who have registered very public complaints against Judson’s Bar in Yorkshire after a waitress identified them as “Gay Guys, Stools” on their bill. (Which reminds us of an old joke: What’s the best pickup line at a gay bar? “Hey man can I push in your stool?”)
Al Butler and his platonic male friend, both 26, were taken aback when they got their check and realized their server had mistaken them for a couple of ‘mos. Butler told the Daily Mail, “It’s not a bad thing to be called gay — although I’m not and neither is my friend — but I think it’s prejudiced. It’s jumping to a conclusion without the need to do so.”
When the pair initially complained to the bartender, they say he told them his hands were tied (and not in a kinky way). Since then, however, Judson’s owner has issued a public apology to the two and assured them that waitress in question — who was new to the job at the time — has been disciplined.
On the surface this may seem reminiscent of a story that ran on the Oprah Show back in 2005. There, an elderly couple ate at a New Jersey restaurant, and when they got their bill, they noticed they were identified as “Jew couple.” Unlike that situation, the Judson waitress’s language, however misguided, was never overtly pejorative. Moreover, Jewish people are subjected to much more aggressive stereotyping in restaurant settings — namely that they are cheap and difficult customers.
While there is no excuse for profiling people, wethinks Butler and his friend doth protest too much. Butler goes so far as to describe the incident as “unacceptable as racism,” which seems a bit of a stretch. He never claims their server gave them poor or hostile service, merely that she confused them for being gay. So what, who cares?
Maybe they were just doing something that read as “totes gay” to the waitress, like, oh, feeding each other fries over a romantic candlelit tablescape they brought into the bar. Those guys weren’t gay either, but for some reason people thought they were. It’s hard dining out for straight dudes in England.