Was Gay Couple Discriminated Against, Or Being Royal Pains, In Texas Bowling Alley?

bowlingWas it a case of discrimination or disruptive customers? That’s the question at the heart of an incident Sunday night at Main Event bowling alley in Plano, Texas, where a gay couple claims they were discriminated against.

It started when boyfriends Alberto Lesmes and Chad Hemp’s asked for a new lane because of a technical malfunction. Staff at the alley complied, but when a child from a nearby group started acting up, the men asked for another swap.  According to the couple, the manager they spoke with asked if they were professional bowlers and when they said they weren’t, told them Main Event was a “family environment. Lesmes says the manager told him, “My resolution is to refund your game and let you leave.”

Lesmes and Hemp left upset, but say they just want an apology: “Our goal is to hopefully bring awareness to all communities that there should be zero tolerance for any kind of prejudice based on same-sex relationships, multi-racial or otherwise,” Lesmes told the Voice.  “To be told we are ‘not family’ is inexcusable.”

But Main Event’s Charlie Keegan told the Huffington Post there was no effort to discriminate against the guys. “No one at the company was aware of their sexual orientation,” said Keegan. “The couple wanted privacy and asked several times to relocate, and we did our best to relocate them but they were frustrated and unhappy.” Keegan says Lesmes and Hemp wanted a place to bowl “where there weren’t any children,”—which is why the manager claimed it was a family environment.

A spokesperson for the venue cited the company’s nondiscrimination policy, which says Main Event “embrace all cultures and pride ourselves on providing an exceptional EAT.BOWL.PLAY experience to all of our guests no matter what their age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual preference or national origin.”


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  • niles

    These people are the worst. They take a disagreement and turn it into a claim of discrimination. Much like the false gay bashings we hear about, these two men do a disservice to those affected by the very real acts of prejudice that happen every day.

  • Raquel Santiago

    We may not be hearing the entire story, but unless there is a lot more to it than whats been printed there is no case here.

  • Pablo

    This is a simple missunderstanding. Was the couple diiscriminated against? Not at all. One thing is to switch lanes because it isn’t malfunctioning and being denied; but requesting to switch lanes because of a crying child is not discriminatory. Not everyone is out to get the LGBT community. The couple is being unreasonable. If they don’t want to bowl next to children, let them find another bowling alley. They just discriminated against the poor family. I may not be a huge fan of children but these two did something unbelievable. The bowling alley did what was right.

  • RomanHans

    @niles: Wow, nothing like jumping to conclusions. The spokesman’s statement that the couple wanted “privacy” at a BOWLING ALLEY doesn’t strike you as weird?

    As far as I can tell, their first lane didn’t work. Their second was near a crazy kid. Call me crazy, but I don’t think a “This is a family environment!” speech is warranted here.

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    I’ve only been bowling a few times–Canadian 10 pin–but all those times there were kids there. For these guys to want a child free environment in a bowling alley is absurd. Clearly the “family environment” remark wasn’t about gay families, but a bowling alley that gets a lot of kids in with their families. These guys wanted a private lane, they should have booked the place for themselves. It’s cases like this, that put a black eye on all of us, and real discrimination.

  • Caleb in SC

    Sounds like a big misunderstanding all around, but definitely not discrimination. The couple was unreasonable in trying to get away from kids at a bowling alley and the management was unreasonable for the “family environment” speech. Just give the guys a couple of free games at a late night slot where kids will be in bed and call it a day.

  • JDJase

    @RomanHans: The “this is a family environment” comment to me was referring to the guys’ complaints about kids. They were simply saying that families (e.g. KIDS) come here, if you don’t like it, you can leave. (And there is nothing there saying there was a “crazy kid” – it said a kid was acting up…which is what kids do believe it or not).

    It’s a sad state when people like you see words like “family environment” and start screaming ANTI-GAY! ANTI-GAY!

  • Spike

    Gays playing the gay card. By family it is meant, kids. If you don’t want to be around kids, don’t go to a play ground, Chuckee Cheese or apparently this bowling alley.

  • RomanHans

    Okay. Judging from the comments, I’m in Bizarroland.

    Part of the problem is that facts have been deleted from the original newspaper account.

    1. Their first lane didn’t work. They asked for a second.

    2. Some kid kept using their lane. Wouldn’t stop. Couple complains again.

    3. Management tells couple that the place is for “families.” Uh, am I crazy in thinking that “families” aren’t the issue, but crazy kids using somebody’s lane is? Management refuses to give the guys a new lane. Refuses to stop the kid from bowling in their lane. Tells the couple they’ll get their money back if they leave.

    Now, it’s possible this bowling alley isn’t anti-gay. Maybe their just support the rights of crazy children over adults. Either way, the couple did nothing wrong, and the bowling alley should apologize to them.

    Okay, anybody want to join me in Bizarroland now?

  • Caleb in SC

    @RomanHans: That definitely puts a different spin on things. They were discriminated against and the manager-on-duty needs to be disciplined. You can foster a family friendly environment all you want to, but there are limits and the kid bowling in the couple’s lane was completely out-of-line.

  • ncman

    @RomanHans: You are right RomanHans.

    And, way to go Queerty, leave out half of the important details that are in the original article to make the gay couple look like a couple of whining complainers.

    The “kid” kept bowling on their lane and you don’t need to be a “pro bowler” to find that to be unacceptable behavior. If the staff couldn’t move them to another lane, they certainly should have spoken to the “family” with the unruly child and make them behave properly.

  • Gigi Gee

    @Caleb in SC: Thanks for the clarification. The manager was wrong.

  • Caleb in SC

    @Gigi Gee: I appreciate it, but it was RomanHans who pointed out the glaring omission by Queerty.

  • ChiChi Man

    Hmmm… Even with the new details, I don’t believe this is anti-gay discrimination. It’s more like “anti-people-without-kids” discrimination.

  • Will L

    A couple of ass holes. I wish these things didn’t make the headlines. It makes us all look like prissy whiners just looking for a reason to scream discrimination.

  • Aidan8

    Of course, we don’t know the whole story but… if they complained about a child disrupting them, then it makes sense to say it’s a “family environment.” i.e., a place where children are welcome/included. Sounds like two bitchy queens making something out of nothing.

  • hyhybt

    Even people *with* kids aren’t likely to want someone else’s using up their lane.

  • ncman

    @Aidan8: please read the article, and follow the links and read all the comments again. The child wasn’t just “disrupting” them, he was using their lane and refused to stop. If you know anything about bowling alleys, this is not acceptable behavior even from a child. The way alleys are automated now, every time a ball is thrown down the alley, it is added into someone’s score and counted as a completed frame that you are charged for. You don’t get a free “do over” just because some brat next to you used up your turn unless you go to the staff and let them know what is happening. Think of it like you went to the practice tees for golf, paid for a bucket of balls to practice your swing and some kid came up to you and took half the balls and hit them himself. It’s the same theory.

  • Aidan8

    @ncman: I get that and I would be totally annoyed too if I were in their shoes. That’s an example of an obnoxious kid, bad parenting, and poor management. It’s not an example of discrimination. They deserve their money back and maybe a free night of bowling. It’s not discrimination, at least on the facts presented. Sorry.

  • John Doe

    At a minimum, this should remind ALL of us to look at the original source article vs. relying upon Queerty.

    Sorry, Queerty, but you mess up WAY TOO OFTEN on these news stories. A month ago you said that Brazil celebrated their first same-sex marriage. Your article was completely wrong and you never fixed it.

    Brazil celebrated their first same-sex marriage over a year ago.

    By looking at the source news article it was VERY clear that the news coming from Brazil was something else a month ago. (Relating to how same-sex marriages can occur in Sao Paulo State via a notary now vs. needing to go through a judge).

    Not only did Queerty spell, Sao Paulo, wrong… but the story was entirely inaccurate. The whole article was wrong. This was mentioned in the reader comments… but the story was never fixed.

    Be cautious of anything you read here.

  • frenchjr25

    Gay bowling is huge in Texas. No discrimination. These two guys were wrong to get upset. Bowling is, and always has been, a family event. If these guys don’t like children they should have simply left.

  • oilburner

    This story is so stupid 2 dudes crying over some bratty kid annoying them they were offered a refund
    & like frenchjr25 stated “If these guys don’t like children they should have simply left”

  • ncman

    @Aidan8: I agree it wasn’t necessarily discrimination. But, management handled it backwards. The family with the child that wouldn’t behave should have been asked to fix the child’s behavior or be ejected. The gay couple had a legitimate complaint about that family. So, what I’m having a problem with here are the commenters who are describing them as whiners.

    @frenchjr25: It wasn’t that this couple doesn’t like children. The child in this instance was running over and bowling on the lane assigned to them instead of the lane assigned to the child. The child wouldn’t stop this when asked to stop. Even people who like children shouldn’t have to put up with children who will not behave in public.

  • RomanHans

    @ncman: Hey, thanks for a dose of intelligence! It’s appreciated.

    I *think* Queerty got this piece from the Huffington Post, which similarly left out the details of the kid bowling in their lane. But it just takes a second to click through to the original article and doublecheck, which is all I did.

    Obviously some people haven’t read the comments so they don’t know the facts about the bratty kid. This should be a lesson, though, to read news stories more closely before condemning people. When I commented as #4, above, before I clicked through for more details, I realized something was wrong due to the bowling alley owner’s weird “privacy” comment. But some commenters here are saying, “Wow, that’s just like gay people, to be whiners! That’s what’s hurting the gay community!” without realize that they’re jumping to homophobic conclusions and THEY’RE what’s wrong with the gay community.

    If you were at a restaurant and some kid kept coming over and poking your food, nobody would use “it’s a family restaurant!” as an excuse. With the “privacy” comment, I’m pretty positive it was pure homophobia. These two men wholeheartedly deserve our support, and the bowling alley needs to apologize.

  • miagoodguy

    typical overreaction from overly sensitve people who see discrimination everywhere.

  • hyhybt

    It *might* be discrimination. But even if it isn’t, it only *might* be mishandling of the situation. Think on this.

    Suppose you’re in charge of a bowling alley. Suppose the people (no further description) in one lane complain that the kid belonging to those in the next lane keeps trying to use theirs. And suppose the people who brought the kid, and he himself, deny this. Their story is that he’s been a bit noisy, but has stayed in their area and is being picked on by the original complainers just for acting like a kid.

    Neither version of the story is even close to implausible, and you, having a job to do, didn’t see anything. Both groups insist YOU do something. Who do you believe, and why? What do you then do, particularly if it happens (as it might be; I don’t know anything, but it’s entirely possible at busy times of the day or if more than that one was malfunctioning) that you don’t have any available lanes to move anyone to?

    Customers dragging store employees/managers/whatever into their personal disputes *always* ends up with at least one side complaining about how it was handled.

    That’s not to say it was handled well, or even in a non-discriminatory manner. Only to say there’s not *really* enough to say for absolute certain.

  • sfbeast

    as edited here on queerty, it sounds like the couple was complaining because they didn’t like annoying kids. but if you read the whole article via the links, the kid was bowling in their lane and the manager told the two men that they weren’t considered a family. it changes the whole thing, and i agree they were treated inapporpriately

Comments are closed.