Earlier this week, a 20-year old openly gay waiter at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Overland Park, Kansas was stiffed on a tip because the customers were conservative Christians. Instead of leaving any money, they decided to write him a note on the back of the check, calling him a fag and “praying” for God’s mercy for him.
“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Fags do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours,” the customer wrote. “We hope you will see the tip your fag choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May GOD have mercy on you.”
First point: I was a waiter and a busboy, and was friends with many more at the time. I have to say that every time I found out I had a Sunday morning-afternoon shift my heart would sink, because that’s when the large church groups would come in, eat their fill, and then leave it to God to provide my tip because they sure as hell didn’t. I’d regularly get 7% tips on tables with groups of 8 or more, complete with an unbroken chain of toddler-meltdowns spanning from about 11AM to a bit past 3. This was, sadly, before the “18% gratuity automatically added for tables of 6 or more”. I don’t think it would have made a difference, though, since I’m convinced that even if that were policy back then, it would have been disputed too often to make it worth enforcing.
Anyway, the point is that even outside of the Bible Belt, I know what happens in restaurants when certain church groups come in en masse. For a conservative Christian couple come in, allow themselves to be served by an openly gay waiter, give money to the restaurant in which he works for the food and drink, and then screw him over at the very end after they get what they want out of the situation has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with using the bible as a convenient excuse to act like an asshole.
I’ve had less than charitable things to say about Kansas in the past, though they have managed to redeem themselves somewhat in recent years through the establishment of more strict (and science-based) textbook requirements for their school districts. And now, there’s this:
As word has spread through social media, other customers are coming in to offer words of encouragement and tip the young server extra. […] The anti-gay message has galvanized support for the server on social media with a campaign underway to flood the restaurant on Friday. Dr. Marvin Baker and his partner had lunch at the restaurant on Thursday and asked to be seated in the server’s section.
Baker served as a pastor for many years and currently leads a Bible study group for LGBT members. He said the couple’s behavior was ungodly.
“This does not represent Christianity. I called them Pharisees,” he said. “God really loves us. And God does not advertise or promote hate. That is not love.”
As with yesterday’s post, it gives some hope to see incidents of bigotry and intolerance like these are proving to be the exception to the rule in traditionally conservative parts of the country. The server (whose name was withheld) has certainly made up for the lost tips at this point, and is now fully aware of the magnitude of support he and others like him has from the local community.
So … thanks, Homophobic Christian Couple! You brought an entire – largely Christian, I assume – community together to show their support and encouragement to a gay man, giving him hope and assurance that not everyone is as backward and self-righteous as you. Keep up the good work!