Straight Dudes Mistaken For “Gay” On Receipt, Call It “Racism”

receiptRemember 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.

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  • neosoulsea

    Well its just unnecessary to put anything into your restaurant’s point-of-sale that a customer might find offensive. It takes effort to be that stupid. Most places do the bill by table number anyway… and where this bill says Tables:11, i’m assuming that’s where they were seated. If it was a busy night and she was having trouble keeping track it would have been good customer service and just as easy to ask the guys their names and enter that into the till.

  • fagburn

    Glad to see you wrote about this silly storm in a teacup with such good sense.
    Waiting staff often use shorthand descriptions to identify customers – what’s wrong with being thought to be “gay guys”?

  • Paul F

    @fagburn: It didn’t say CUTE gay guys, that’s why! That’s where the insult came in. (snark)

  • 2eo

    If we got into trouble about how we name people to ourselves, I’d be sacked at work because there’s a guy who I call Simon Weston in my head.

    Names, can’t do them.

    Down my street there’s bulldog bloke, paedo hitler guy, mrs doubtfire.

  • fredo777

    Sorry, but the waitress was definitely in the wrong. They were labeled as gay, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”, when they aren’t. Not necessarily an offensive mistake, but still inappropriate on her part. What if, for example, the couple really were gay? Would you not find it inappropriate for your server to identify you on a receipt by your sexual identity, race, etc? I certainly would. Again, not that being called something that I am (or, as in this case, that I’m not) is offensive, it’s just poor form on her part. If I came here to eat, stick to taking notes on what I’m ordering, not what my (assumed) identity is. If she wanted to easily identify them by something, she could’ve at least chosen clothing color, etc.

  • yaoming

    Well, as a member of the gay race… Wait, there is no “gay race” – that doesn’t make sense.

  • pauleky

    Seriously – some people need to look up the word “racism” in the dictionary.

  • Teleny

    Why didn’t they just giggle and keep it moving?

  • middleagespread

    Gave a check to a guest once, he looked over the bill, then complained to a manager about “fresh fish”. That’s how our computer printed what he ordered. The fresh fish. He thought I was describing his daughter. Lol BTW next to fresh fish was the $19.95

  • Mike

    They may have been hitting on her or did something to piss her off and she did it to get back at them. Who orders a half diet coke? Either that was her clue that they were gay or they did it to be difficult or funny, so she got even with them.

  • redspyder

    @Mike: FWIW, I’ve seen half diet coke ordered alot in London and the Midlands. Most of the time its mixed with Coke or Dr. Pepper (yeah – weird), but I have seen people just ask for it on its own.

    On the whole, this article is stupid. If its ok to write ‘Gay guys’ on a bill, its ok to write ‘Jew couple’ as well. When the author says that ‘Jew couple’ is ‘overly pejorative language’ and “Jewish people are subjected to much more aggressive stereotyping in restaurant settings — namely that they are cheap and difficult customers” – he is revealing his own prejudices and/or sensitivities. He’s breaking it down into relative degrees of offense. That he thinks that ‘Gay guys’ is no big deal, it doesn’t mean he’s right. Its merely a subjective interpretation.

    I know Kiwis who go mental if you call them Australians, and Canadians who freak out everytime they are referred to as Americans. Just because I think they’re being stupidly ridiculous doesn’t mean I’m right, nor does it mean they aren’t allowed to be offended.

  • KimberlyYan

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  • Oodle

    They realized that something wrong was going on, so cheers for that, even though they got the terminology slightly wrong.

  • stranded

    well put sir.

Comments are closed.