To the editor:
As someone who spends my days working as the editor of Gay City News, the city’s LGBTQ newspaper, I was chagrined to be the target of anti-gay language from a deliveryman in my Riverdale apartment building on Oct. 26.
As the son of the owner of a nearby business was upstairs making his delivery, his driver’s vehicle was blocking the pedestrian entrance to my building on Palisade Avenue. I asked the driver to move forward to the sign where cars are directed to idle, and he told me to “shut up.”
I asked him what he said, and he replied, “You heard me, faggot.”
When the owner’s son returned to my building’s lobby, he claimed the driver didn’t work for the business, but was a friend of his and I should take it up with the driver. I called the business, and the owner — who claimed she wasn’t the owner — told me she had no time to talk, and would call the police if I didn’t stop calling. She told me to visit the store if I had a problem.
But when I arrived there, she told me to leave, or she would call the police.
She refused to apologize, but did acknowledge she was the owner, and the young man delivering the groceries (not the driver) was her son. I described the incident in detail on the Out Riverdale Facebook page, and have filed a complaint with the city’s human rights commission.
Bronx residents should not be confronted by this kind of hate speech from commercial establishments in their own homes.
As a “place of public accommodation,” the business is legally barred from discriminating against customers and the public generally based on sexual orientation, or a broad array of other categories.
Business owners also have an ethical responsibility to create a climate of tolerance, acceptance and community spiritedness.