A Louisiana woman claims she was denied service at a Family Dollar store in New Orleans because she's a lesbian.
Melissa Langford told NOLA.com that she visited the store April 22 to pick up some gifts. While standing in the check-out line, Langford said she overheard a cashier loudly expressing homophobic statements.
In a Facebook post that day, the 34-year-old elaborated on the encounter. "It started off with the cashier loudly voicing her opinion on how much she hates gay people," she wrote. "After five or six minutes (or at least it felt like that long) of listening to her yell and preach to each customer about how 'gay people need to get 'the f*ck,' they got somethin' wrong in they head, *edit* that she had the right to refuse service to anyone she wants, gays are sick' etc., I started to writhe away internally."
Eventually, Langford said she "spoke up," introducing herself as "very, very gay" and telling the cashier she was really offended by her remarks. At that point, she said the cashier promptly refused to serve both her and a male customer who came to her defense.
Langford captured a series of short videos on her phone after her initial confrontation, which mostly show the male customer loudly arguing with the cashier. She included those videos in her Facebook post, which has been shared over 1,600 times.
Eventually, she said, another store clerk did ring her up.
"I think everybody's entitled to think what they want," she told 12 News. "But as a representative of a company, like a national chain, it's completely inappropriate and a blatant disregard for other people's feelings."
She told The Huffington Post that the response from locals "has been very supportive" now that her story has gained media attention. She said she reached out to Family Dollar immediately after the incident, but has yet to hear anything in response.
"I'd like for them to at least acknowledge me; that'd be nice," Langford said, adding that she'd like to see the clerk and the store's manager reprimanded for the situation. "Apologies are only words, and I don't even know if they would mean it."
Family Dollar's Public and Media Relations Manager Bryn R. Winburn told HuffPost in an email that the situation was currently under investigation.
"We take incidents like this very seriously," he wrote. "[Our code of ethics] specifically forbids unprofessional conduct and comments on sexual orientation, among other matters. Any activity that goes against this code is simply not how we expect our stores to do business."
Although, some supporters have suggested staging a demonstration outside the store, Langford said she doesn't "believe in protesting in any negative way."
"If I were to protest, it would have to be just gathering a bunch of gay people together in their parking lot and all making out silently with each other," she said. "That would be the most [effective] way to get the point across without even having to open our mouth."