Seattle Cab Company to Discipline Driver for Anti-Gay Remarks
A Seattle taxi company said it will discipline a driver who was involved in a verbal altercation with four gay passengers earlier this month in Capitol Hill.
Justin Hill said he, two roommates and the boyfriend of one of his roommates were traveling from Westlake Avenue North to C.C. Attle’s, a popular gay bar on Capitol Hill, in an Orange Cab Company taxi on Sept. 11. Hill said he sat in the front seat next to the driver, while the other three men were in the backseat.
According to Hill, the two boyfriends kissed in the backseat as the taxi traveled up the Denny Street overpass. "They’ve only been together two months, and they’re really into it," joked Hill. "Our friends get kind of tired of it, actually, but they were just kissing."
Victor Nevarez, one of Hill’s roommates, downplayed the incident with his boyfriend.
"I gave Patrick - that’s my boyfriend-a little kiss," he said. "It wasn’t anything like Cab Confessions-that [HBO] show-it was nothing like that, nothing obscene."
"It was literally a kiss," added Patrick McKenzie. "We weren’t, like, mauling each other in the backseat."
According to the men, the driver then said, "Don’t do that."
Confused, McKenzie asked, ’You mean kissing him?’
Apparently the combination of the kiss and the question set the driver off, who, according to McKenzie yelled, "Yeah, you make me sick to my stomach."
"He said it like, four times," said McKenzie.
Hill said the cabbie then told him and the three other men to get out of his cab. "Right on the overpass-it wasn’t even a safe place to get out," said Hill. "If it had been a straight couple, he wouldn’t have said anything."
The situation made the young men feel odd, particularly given that Seattle-and especially Capitol Hill-is a gay friendly city.
"I’ve never experienced any discrimination like that," said Nevarez. "I understand people have their own personal beliefs or whatever, but you’re at work - you’re supposed to be professional! I mean, you’re driving to Capitol Hill, and you’re surprised you have gay people in your cab? Really?"
Hill called Orange Cab after the incident and complained. He said the employee who answered the phone was helpful and professional. "The lady was very nice about it, very sympathetic," said Hill. "She asked what time it happened and where we were picked up, and from that she said, ’We know who the driver is and I’ll file the complaint.’ She handled the situation perfectly."
Orange Cab general manager Pat Binion confirmed to EDGE that the incident did occur and Hill reported it to his company.
"The crux of the complaint was that there were people kissing in the back of the cab, the driver took exception, and he dropped them short of their destination," he said.
According to Binion, the driver has been written up for performing poor customer service and is required to appear before a company disciplinary board on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
"This driver has been with us since 2005," said Binion. "He has no disciplinary record at all. That said it’s inappropriate for him to make remarks to passengers and to put them out short of their destination."
Binion said Orange Cab’s policy is to serve all customers equally.
"That’s not only the city code, but the Board of Directors is very committed to that," he said. "We try to be neutral in terms of [sexual] orientation. We appreciate all the business we get on Capitol Hill."
Nevarez welcomed the news that Orange Cab was disciplining the cabbie.
"I’m glad they actually did something," he said. "People always say they’ll take care of a problem, but you don’t know if they’ll follow through."