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Portland Apple Customer Finds Homophobic Slur On Receipt, Calls For Social Competency Training

AppleSlurAdam Catanzarite went into a Portland, Oregon Apple store for a pair of headphones, and left with what could be considered a homophobic slur. A few days after his purchase, Catanzarite took a closer look at his receipt only to find "" written where his email (which he declined to give to the employee) should have been.

Catanzarite, an HIV prevention specialist at Cascade AIDS Project and a self-identified queer individual, took action, calling the store, speaking with the manager, and eventually being promised a refund; as of yesterday, he had not received it.

PQ Monthly reports:

In a post to Facebook, Catanzarite explained his immediate response and why he felt this was unacceptable:

“The store manager did not do what he said he would to rectify the situation… being queer and having worked with queer youth, I know first-hand that this is an example of the type of #homophobic beliefs and actions that lead young people to harm themselves. This type of action is NOT OKAY, especially from a company that prides itself on being LGBTQ inclusive and welcoming.”

Rather than fire the employee who entered the offending phrase, Catanzarite believes that there should be more cultural competency training for Apple employees on the whole. The Oregonian reports:

Catanzarite followed the initial Facebook post with another on Wednesday morning, describing the encounter in greater detail. In that post, he said:

“The employee who entered should not be fired (take a minute to let that settle in if you need to), but should be given an opportunity to learn about the impact of the use of the word fag and how these words impact the individuals who have been oppressed by them.”

Catanzarite said he hasn’t heard from Apple regarding how or why the slur appeared on his receipt but in this case, he said, the employee’s intent doesn’t matter.

“All I can really focus on is how it impacted me and how we can move forward to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Several updates from PQ Monthly indicate that the incident really could have been accidental on the part of the employee, particularly regarding the quick input of emails (when not given to the employee) and the proximity of "f" and "g" on the keyboard. The unnamed contact--an employee at the same Apple store location--also said that they believe the employee in question is homosexual and that they have heard him use the word "fag" "in a casual, callous, or even joking manner.”

Misunderstanding or not, it is undoubtedly important to recognize the sensitivity around use of inappropriate or offensive language. Apple has yet to respond to the situation, beyond recognition of its occurrence. 

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  1. Does he seriously have nothing better to worry about?

    Posted by: bford | Aug 14, 2014 12:26:48 PM

  2. You know what I find inappropriate or offensive? People who refer to gay youth as "queers"!

    Posted by: Lil Kiwi | Aug 14, 2014 12:27:13 PM

  3. Meanwhile St Louis is a powder keg and in Iraq kids are drinking their parents blood to prevent death from dehydration or being put in mass graves or beheaded while alive. Get over yourself, Mary.

    Posted by: Mike | Aug 14, 2014 12:30:19 PM

  4. So either it was an accident (which is totally, 100% implausible)or it wasn't. But you don't get to say that: 1) it was an accident; but 2) if it wasn't an accident, it's because he's a f@g TOO!

    F@g or not, that employee should be fired. Even if joking inappropriately with a co-worker isn't cause for termination, being inappropriate with a customer/client certainly has to be.

    Posted by: Fire Da F@g | Aug 14, 2014 12:32:59 PM

  5. f and g may be near each other on the keyboard, but the @ sign is really not.

    Posted by: Daniel | Aug 14, 2014 12:37:08 PM

  6. I wonder if he's friends with any lesbian waitresses.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 14, 2014 12:39:33 PM

  7. "Misunderstanding or not, it is undoubtedly important to recognize the sensitivity around use of inappropriate or offensive language." Your inappropriate or offensive language is not the same as mine. Is there a short list of words we are ALLOWED to use?

    Posted by: John | Aug 14, 2014 12:40:12 PM

  8. Yeah now this dude is on his Facebook directing the "media" here and there. Oh shut up. Keep it in Portland. Frankly, I don't know why he chooses to live in such a place well known for its homophobia. No one ever did that on one of my receipts in Texas.

    Posted by: Mike | Aug 14, 2014 12:40:30 PM

  9. Oh look. The homophobic trolls are telling us that this doesn't matter. Weak sauce as always. It matters, and Adam Catanzarite is showing remarkable restraint and wisdom in his response. Apple, not so much.

    Posted by: TheOtherOne | Aug 14, 2014 12:42:43 PM

  10. Oh look. The homophobic trolls are telling us that this doesn't matter. Weak sauce as always. It matters, and Adam Catanzarite is showing remarkable restraint and wisdom in his response. Apple, not so much.

    Posted by: TheOtherOne | Aug 14, 2014 12:42:44 PM

  11. Of course the way to deal with this is to go back to the store and punch the guy who did it.

    Instead I read above an apologist bending over so much he'll give himself a hernia.

    And yes there are wars going on in the world.....but what point does that make ? We should ignore scum like behaviour ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Aug 14, 2014 12:43:31 PM

  12. I'm seeing a few comments suggesting that this person should "get over it", ostensibly because there are more important things going on in the world. The truth is that what's important to an individual depends on their perspective. Yes, St. Louis and Iraq are spiraling out of control. What can Mr. Catanzarite do about those things, assuming that he decides to take the commenters' advice and "get over it"? How should he direct his efforts? Oh that's right, he can't do ANYTHING about those things. What he can do is stand up for himself and not allow himself to be insulted and demeaned during a simple commercial transaction. And in so doing, he stands up for all of us.

    The only reason we've improved our lot in life over the past 30 years is the fact that we've stood up, come out, and refused to take abuse from bigots. That's exactly what needs to happen all over the world. Those of you who think he's being unreasonable should think again.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Aug 14, 2014 12:44:35 PM

  13. Wonder what he would call Tim Cook, the Apple gay CEO?
    Also, @THEOTHERONE, I agree. Wonder why trolls show up on this site? Sadly, it used to be troll free.

    Posted by: Turing's Ghost | Aug 14, 2014 12:48:51 PM

  14. a keypunch error? really? would that argument fly with a black customer if the employee claimed he was only trying to enter the west african river niger, and accidentally typed one too many g's?

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 14, 2014 12:52:34 PM

  15. John,
    Only right wing people like you would think that f@g is an appropriate word and yes I know you think it's fun to come here and call us all a f@g but you will never be man enough to say it to anybody's face.

    Posted by: keepingitreal | Aug 14, 2014 12:55:41 PM

  16. As a former Apple employee, i can tell you exactly what happened. In order to finish a transaction, an employee must enter an email address for the receipt. if customer doesn't want to provide one, the employee is supposed to enter a dummy apple one that doesn't go anywhere. Out of laziness, most employees put, or, or in this case Because it's simply a way to fool the system into thinking you are entering a proper email because there is an "@" symbol. Apple is one of the most accepting companies in the entire world, and not once did I ever feel unsupported by them because I was gay. This is a waste of everyone's time, and this asshat needs to find something better to do with his time.

    Posted by: gay apple employee | Aug 14, 2014 12:57:05 PM


    Rationalizing a faux pas.

    And where did the employee get the "g" from ?
    It's 5 spaces away from the "a".
    Your explanation sounds like BS to me.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Aug 14, 2014 1:09:18 PM

  18. I'm more offended by queer than f@g.

    Posted by: Carmelo | Aug 14, 2014 1:09:49 PM

  19. Well, yeah, it's not the biggest deal in the world @GayAppleEmployee but it's probably worth it for Apple stores to suggest to their employees that if you're going to make up a dummy e-mail address is right up there with and on the list of non-customer-friendly ones to pick.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 14, 2014 1:12:18 PM

  20. It doesn't sound like he's defending the employee. He's saying that he's not representative of the broader corporate culture.

    One bad apple, so to speak.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 14, 2014 1:23:30 PM

  21. Lol! So he openly degrades himself by calling himself queer and he degrades gay and lesbian youths by calling them queer and then he objects when others degrade him by calling him f@g? What a maroon!

    Gay people aren't queers and we aren't f@gs. Anyone who calls us that - even if that person is gay , or especially if that person is gay - needs to be called out.

    Posted by: Seth | Aug 14, 2014 1:25:03 PM

  22. Good one, Ernie. Kind of sums it all up.

    Posted by: me | Aug 14, 2014 1:27:33 PM

  23. "Catanzarite took a closer look at his receipt only to find "" written where his email (which he declined to give to the employee) should have been."

    If the customer didn't give the clerk his email address, then there was no reason for the clerk to type anything into that section. It was obviously typed in that way deliberately.

    Posted by: Patrick | Aug 14, 2014 1:28:40 PM

  24. Dear Seth, He's not a "maroon" either. I rather find him more "seafoam green"

    Posted by: me | Aug 14, 2014 1:29:33 PM

  25. As a fellow gay Portlander, I'm quite disturbed at how overblown this whole thing is. It's quite clear to me that the employee was just entering a garbage email address to complete a sale. This is simply manufactured outrage.

    I once got some documentation from another company which contained sample emails from a user called "Maricon", a Spanish slur equivalent to "faggot". I raised a huge stink, and was incredibly embarrassed to find that it was actually the name of a technical writer at the company, who was using his own name in his writing.

    I think everyone should pause with their pitchforks and torches, and think about how we should feel if we cost some unlucky retail employee his job for what is likely a bunch of random keypresses.

    Posted by: ron | Aug 14, 2014 1:34:02 PM

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