How Three Restaurant Workers Restored a Gay Man’s Faith in Humanity

Our friend Trent Preszler shared this story with us about an experience he had this week at Myers Steakhouse & Inn in Salamanca, NY which demonstrates the difference allies, businesses, and humans can make in each other's lives – and how important it is to stand up for one another.

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TrentProfound life changing experience tonight driving through western NYS. Pulled off interstate for dinner at locally owned historic steakhouse founded in 1901. I sat at the bar, perusing the menu, lots of deer taxidermy around. TV has ESPN showing the Michael Sam documentary.

Group of 10 drunk middle-aged straight married men in golf polos and (pleated!) khakis are sitting at the bar. They see Michael Sam on ESPN and start shouting and pointing at the TV: "YAH LOOK AT THAT FUCKING FAGGOT CRY! HE'S SUCH A FAGGOT, WATCH THAT PUSSY C-CK SUCKER CRY WHEN HE STARTS PLAYING FOOTBALL BRO! HE'S CRYING BECAUSE HE'S A F–KING C-CK SUCKING FAGGOT." They laugh among themselves HAHAHA and slap high fives while I sat five feet away.

This is the fear and horror that gay people live with every day of their lives. An inky, dark, sick feeling sat in my stomach. I stood up and left before ordering. They were all drunk and I worried for my safety.

Getting in my car in the parking lot, suddenly three people appeared at my car window. I locked my door, fearing the worst.

It was the Chef, maintenance man, and waitress. They asked me to roll down my window, so I did. They said, "please don't leave, we are so sorry those guys said those horrible things, that's not right, that's not who WE are, we work here and we welcome all people and we want to cook you dinner. Please don't leave. We told those guys their behavior was unacceptable and asked them to go. We don't want their business if it means we have to allow them to disrespect people. They're ignorant."

The Chef is an Iraq war veteran (born in Puerto Rico) who said he can't stand by and watch bigotry happen in front of him; it's not in line with his principles and what he fought for. The waitress is a nursing student at a local community college. The maintenance man is a honorable local man who's never been to NYC and works his ass off washing dishes and cleaning hotel rooms so he can buy his fiancé a diamond ring. All three of them gave me a hug and sat down at the table with me at the end of their shifts. We talked and drank Merlot. They showed me infinitely more love and compassion than the bigoted white middle aged wealthy assholes who cloak their bigotry behind a veneer of Sergio Tacchini golf polos and Rolexes.

Astonished, I ate my dinner with a tear in my eye and hope for our future. Thank you to these wonderful human beings in Salamanca, New York.

Comments

  1. Hawthorne says

    Thank you, Trent and Andy, for sharing this story. Not only is it heart-warming, it is encouraging and a hopeful sign that, indeed, things get better.

  2. says

    I went through the same thing. I was woking at a grocery store and a muslim woman came in. She was refused service by the idiot who worked in the deli department because (his words) “She has a scarf on her head, she’s a muslim and doesn’t speak English.” She spoke perfect English, but anyway… The woman left crying. My supervisor did nothing.

    I turned off my register and ran after her, begged her not to leave and told her I’d get the manager to deal with this. The manager, angry that I interrupted his internet activities, wrote me up for leaving my register and said that asking the woman to stay was illegal because it was “restraining” someone. He did nothing to the deli guy because he was in a meat-cutters union and therefore untouchable.

  3. Derrick from Philly says

    @ BUT ANYWAY…

    Thank you for being brave that day. It’s people like you who give the rest of us hope.

    I’ve had a few (very few) acts of courage. But they always took me by surprise–you know, never expecting ME to step up and rise to the occasion. But, still, those moments are always good to look back on and say, “well, that one time I did something right.”

  4. Tyler says

    Derrick from Philly said:

    “I’ve had a few (very few) acts of courage.”

    It does not surprise me at all that you have had very few acts of courage over your life. You are at heart a coward. However, it is gratifying to hear you admit it.

  5. Derrick from Philly says

    “Derrick from Philly said:

    “I’ve had a few (very few) acts of courage.”

    It does not surprise me at all that you have had very few acts of courage over your life. You are at heart a coward. However, it is gratifying to hear you admit it.”

    Well, you’re pretty brave–using someone else’s ( TYLER’S) posting name.

    LOL. I may not be brave, but I am honest…even on an internet blog. LOL

  6. Derrick from Philly says

    @ TYLER IMPOSTER,

    another thing: I may be a coward, but I can show appreciation for someone else’s courage such as the incident the poster “BUT ANYWAY…” told us about.

    You didn’t even acknowledge “BUT ANYWAY…”s act of courage.

  7. Derrick from Philly says

    @ JOHN,

    thanks. I just wanted to tell the poster “BUT ANYWAY…” he did the right thing. And it will be a good memory for the rest of his life.

  8. MakeADate says

    If you’re gay or an ally, like steakhouses, and live within range, you’ve gotta go!

    YOU’VE JUST GOTTA!

    I love these people – If I weren’t vegetarian and WAY too far away I would definitely go.

  9. Jem (truly outrageous) says

    This is the kind of story I love to see, Andy. Thank you so much. And, of course, thank you, Myers, for standing up for respect and humanity. My partner, who is also an immigrant from Austria (we are truly living the American dream), and I will be driving from NYC to Montreal in a couple of weeks and we will be taking a six-hour detour to support those hard-working, thoughtful, loving Americans. A thousand thanks for hipping us to this moving story.

    All the best,

    Jem (truly outrageous)

    PS: truly, truly, truly outrageous

  10. Mike from manchester says

    Nice story but sorry, I don’t believe a word of it. he left before he ordered.. how did the staff know why? They got rid of a group of people drinking and then three members of staff went looking for him (he was still there?) It’s pure fantasy

  11. Maggie says

    One of my closest friends is the waitress in this story. She told me about it last week over lunch, not thinking it was a big deal at all. Since then, people have been coming into the restaurant saying “you’re the waitress from the story!” You have to understand that Salamanca, NY is a VERY small town, this type of story doesn’t go unnoticed. But (despite what one commenter said) this absolutely DID happen. She (they) didn’t do it for the glory, the internet story, or the attention — but because it was the RIGHT thing to do.

  12. Jessica says

    I grew up in Salamanca, and am embarrassed by the behavior of those men at the bar. What I learned growing up there (mostly because my parents are just cool) is that all people are created equal and that we do not discriminate for anyone. I’m grateful to the staff at Myers’ (my favorite local restaurant) for ensuring that you knew that not all small town people are bigoted assholes.

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