“I’m finding it difficult to comprehend.”
That’s how Jay Horne, owner of Paradiso Cafe in Australia, describes his feelings when learning that two customers have stopped frequenting his establishment because he is gay.
“The couple had a conversation in which they stated that they wouldn’t be coming here any more because we’re a gay-owned business,” Horne told Australia’s Tropic Now. “They still walk past every single day but now they refuse to acknowledge us. As the owner of a cafe, I’ve never experience anything like this.”
“If we had bad customer service or our food was poor, I could understand. But to voice the fact that we’re gay-owned and operated as being their reason is so hard to understand,” he added.
In addition to owning Paradiso Cafe, Horne is also the publisher and editor of gay travel publication, FNQ Magazine.
“The only thing I could really think was: ‘okay, maybe these people think that we have a disease or a virus that they were going to contract through our cafe, or that they believed that if we touched them, they would end up gay.’”
“You cannot catch being gay. And I do find it offensive that people do have that belief. I just consider people as people, and that’s how others should consider people’s businesses.”
Horne spent six hours thinking about how he would handle the situation—including confronting the customers—but ultimately decided to shine a spotlight on it through social media and leave the couples’ names out of it.
“I do like to consider myself in a positive sense, that I have the ability to influence or change perceptions even ever-so-slightly,” Horne said. “Because ever-so-slightly ten times makes somebody’s perception change.”
“Things like this just prove that there is still so much work to be done, even now in the 21st century.”