Watch: NYC Restaurant Fires Anti-LGBTQ Worker After Verbal Attack on Married Couple

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 26, 2021

Watch: NYC Restaurant Fires Anti-LGBTQ Worker After Verbal Attack on Married Couple
  (Source:Screencap/NBC New York)

The New York restaurant where a same-sex married couple was told to leave by an anti-LGBTQ employee says that the worker in question has been let go, and that the couple has been invited to return as customers, NBC New York reports.

As previously reported, Nelson Ayala and his husband Jamel Brown Jr. had placed their order and were waiting for their food at La Isla Cuchifrito in the Bronx on the evening of Jan. 15 when an employee, seeing them share a kiss, told them to leave and berated them in Spanish.

Brown told NBC New York that the employee was telling them, "Men and men are not supposed to be together."

"I don't like gay guys, and you have to go outside," Nelson, who speaks Spanish, recalled the woman telling them.

The men, who have been married for a year, were shocked. NBC New York noted that the men live near the eatery and patronize businesses in the neighborhood, and had not had anything of the sort happen to them before. Nelson took out his phone and began taking video of the employee.

In the video the couple can be heard telling the woman's coworker, "She's not supposed to say that. That's discrimination."

Finally, the men called the police. That's when, as can be seen on on the video. the restaurant worker started apologizing to the men. Ayala and Brown had heard enough, however, and left the establishment without waiting for their meal.

Manager Elizabeth Ocasio told NBC News that the worker did not speak for the family-owned eatery, and was fired for her treatment of the couple.

"We let her go," Ocasio told NBC News, adding, "we don't allow that. We don't accept that. That's not us."

Ocasio went on to add: "She's been with us for a long time, but as soon as we found out, we let her go."

The couple said they hadn't intended for the woman to be fired, NBC New York said, but they did expect a level of professionalism.

"While you're on work, keep your beliefs to yourself," Nelson told NBC New York. "We get it, it's freedom of speech. But while you are working, we don't have to hear all that."

The men had previously vowed not to return to the eatery as customers, and repeated that they are not ready to accept the establishment's invitation.

Watch the NBC New York news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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