VA Spa Refuses LGBT Clients, Citing “Abnormal Sexual Behaviors And Orientation”

spaA traditional Korean spa in Centreville, Virginia rejects LGBT customers as a matter of policy, according to the Fairfax Times.

The situation came to light last year when a trans woman visited the 24-hour spa on a trip from California, and was asked by an attendant to leave.

“They told me that I was not welcome there and to leave because I looked a little different,” she said. “Let’s say I am a member of the LGBT population.”

The woman filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and it turns out it wasn’t just a bigoted staffer:.

The Better Business Bureau opened an investigation, and on Jan. 28, Spa World representative Sang Lee responded to the BBB in writing by stating “It is our policy to not accept any kinds of abnormal sexual oriented customers to our facility such as homosexuals, or transgender(s).”The Spa World written reply goes on to say that the spa stands by this policy for the sake of young children who utilize the facility. “Also, for the safety and the comfort of young children at Spa World, we strongly forbid any abnormal sexual behaviors and orientation in our facility. Despite the controversial issue of homosexuality and transgender, it is our policy to not accept them,” Lee wrote.

Look, we’re not stupid—we know sometimes things happen in spas that shouldn’t. And anyone who gets busted doing that stuff should probably be made to leave. But there’s a difference between sexual activity and sexual orientation. And certainly between sexual behavior and gender expression.

It would seem Spa World is within its rights: Virginia’s anti-discrimination laws only prevent the government from discriminating against state employees based on sexual orientation.

h/t: DCist

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  • Dionte

    They should put a sign outside so people know before they come in.

  • Mediocrates

    It appears this story has been overtaken by events. Apparently, the owner has apologized for the incident and sworn it won’t happen again, chalking the whole thing up to miscommunication. Further, he stated that it was sexual acts, rather than orientations that the spa was seeking to prevent, and that the confusion was a result of the language barrier.

    Now, whether you believe the “lost in translation” explanation or not, it appears that the spa’s policy has changed. Is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons still right? discuss.

    Another point. I live in the DC area, and while I have never been to Spa World, I do know that it’s quite popular with a lot of gay people. In fact, it seems to be one of the few things that will induce a gay Washingtonian to cross the river (especially now that DC sells liquor on Sundays). I’ve heard that it can get rather cruisy. So this may have been a factor in the spa’s decision. Doesn’t make it right, but adds a wrinkle.

    See the full story here:

  • natmas

    It’s definitely wrong that they are openly discriminating against LGBT clients, but I can’t say that I don’t understand why they are so blunt – Spa World is known as being a large cruising spot (because it is open 24 hours a day and is a very large place) – and for a business owner who is trying to run a “normal business” I can see the frustration when what you’re trying to run as a family friendly Korean spa is turning into a late night hookup joint.

  • Stache1

    @natmas: Well, that’s just dandy. Like Dionte said. Put up a sign of their policy then. That way people of fair mindedness don’t make the mistake of forking over their $ to some Korean bigots. That way they get only the “normal” people.

  • IzzyLuna

    This is just sad. Virginia is well living up to it’s stereotype of being ignorant po-dunk hicks.

  • niles

    This is basically a trans issue not a gay one.

  • erikwm

    @IzzyLuna: I take it you’re not from the DC area? Fairfax County is not some “po-dunk hick” area. It has a population of 1.1 million residents and has the second highest median household income of any county in the United States. #1 and #3 on the list are neighboring Loudoun and Arlington Counties, respectively. In all, Northern Virginia has 5 of the 8 wealthiest counties in the United States by median household income. It’s not a “hick” area.


    I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    I would like to think that perhaps there was some language barrier that made the owners come off as bigots. I have taught English as a second language to Koreans, and it can be very difficult for them. People who learn a second language often have trouble expressing fine details, so perhaps that is what happened here in regards to the owner’s statement.

    However, asking a transgendered person to leave is terrible; however, it seems that there is more to this story than it seems, so I guess that we will have to wait and see before we can pass final judgement…

  • Thedrdonna

    1. So?
    2. Ignoring the fact that they appear to have change their tune, they specifically said that they forbade homosexuals from using the place.
    3. If they’re really bigoted enough to expel someone for looking too manly in the women’s area, do you honestly think they would be any better about people who “look” gay? What about women who look too butch? Two men in a relationship?

  • mjcc1987

    @Mediocrates: bullshit. They wrote in english to the BBB that gays are not welcome and them claimed “no speak english”. I call bullshit

  • Stache1

    @mjcc1987: They probably just didn’t think allot about it till the uproar and then like you said “we no speak good english. We sorry”. Too late bitches.

  • FStratford

    I don’t like it. The Spa Owners were obviously discriminating against LGBT.

    However, I think the DC gays who turned this joint into a cruising place and a sex place is partly to blame. A place where kids should be able to go, like this spa, is not a place to have sex in.

    This is 2013 – the whole idea of cruising is so 1970s. Who cruises anymore? I mean, I see them trolls in the gym sometimes who stay outside of the steam room for hours on end… its pathetic. Why don’t they just come out of the closet and date? Or better yet, just ask a guy out for a couple of beers? These cruisers are so stalkerish. And they cruise on public toilets too – I mean, it must take a lot of weird stuff in your brain to tolerate smelling shit all day long just to get an anonymous, potentially infectious, hookup.

    I have a suspicion that most of these cruisers, at least in DC, are like the Republican congressmen who are only gay at night and on the down low and in the light of day condemn everyone else.

  • Cam


    What a shock, some account comes on here to explain away everything and then try to blame gay people. You aren’t fooling anybody. The spa is a Korean spa that is attended by a lot of families, it isn’t a cruisy spot, the woman was kicked out because she appeared gay. The letter was written in English and said that they ban gays.

  • WayDifferent

    @FStratford: Agreed 90%. Chicago still has that creepy, crawly, averting eyes, crotch rubbin’, sniffin’, sneaky cruisy stuff going all over too. On the lakefront, on public transportation, in the stores, in the bars even… the supposed “first appointed gay neighborhood in the U.S. too”!. If you’re in the general vicinity, it’s pretty much a given that your gay or bi and asking somebody if they’re NOT gay wouldn’t be out of the question. After relocating there, I could never adjust to that form of “communication” and I’m in my 40’s. Nevermind the gyms, they still have bath houses to hunt down prey like that too – in the dark no less – amongst the aroma of bleach, poop and poppers! Ask him out for a beer or coffee? I don’t think any guy over the age of 26 there would know how do do that (the “daddy” hunters really have some couth these days).

    There’s more to this story, no doubt.

    P.S. They’re ALL flaming liberals. Don’t dare wear a tie around there.

  • Volvoguy

    I live in va. I despise living in this state with its right winger
    politics, I hate the leaders with their anti gay mentality.
    Now they are breeding a new hate monger to be the leader of
    this state, in crazy cuccinelli.
    This man will continue and strengthen hatred and discrimination
    to all gay people in this state.

  • TinoTurner

    All you damn homos are getting on my nerves, you’re all SO QUICK to start whining when you guys know NOTHING. As one person previously wrote, this place is starting to get a reputation for being cruisy. I’ve heard pretty amazing things about this place in terms of it being a legit spa…..but now you see people on Craigslist posting things about using this place as a meetup place. If I’m paying good money to relax and enjoy myself, I dont want some tired ass, cliche queen waiting for me to drop my towel. Why dont you homos get mad about something IMPORTANT!

  • TinoTurner

    @FStratford: So TRUE! I used to live in DC and I couldn’t stand it…everyone/everything is sooooo gay! Leave it to some nasty gays to ruin a freakin spa!

  • Stache1

    @TinoTurner: Don’t you have a bridge to get back to?

Comments are closed.