Note to homophobes: If you aim a gay slur at an Internet expert, the whole world is going to hear about it.
That's one of many lessons in the story of Billy Canu, a tech-firm CEO who used social media to accuse a United Airlines employee in Denver of calling him and his partner "faggots."
Canu certainly knows his way around the Internet. He's the man in charge of SEOHaus, a San Diego-based firm that specializes in search engine optimization. He also familiar with social media -- which explains why his Facebook post about an incident that allegedly took place at Denver International Airport on Saturday has circulated so quickly.
The entire account is below -- but to synopsize, Canu says he and his partner, Michael, visited the United lounge at DIA in advance of a planned 7:07 p.m. flight to San Diego and received ultra-rude service from the employees there. Then, rather than chastising the staffers, the manager asked the pair to leave. An argument ensued, and when the men finally began walking away, they claim the manager called them "idiots," followed by the mocking remark, "What faggots."
In short order, Canu's story began circulating on blog sites like Back2Stonewall, with news organizations such as the Hollywood Reporter picking it up, too. Also taking on the tale was 7News, which got an official comment from United Airlines in response to the claims: "United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have received this complaint and are reviewing, and we will reach out to the customer directly."
Not exactly the type of PR United needs in advance of the Christmas travel season. Look below to read Canu's Facebook post.
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Story of our United Airlines incident where we were called faggot: My partner and I were catching the 7:07pm flight from Denver to San Diego on Saturday, November 26th 2011.
We arrived at Denver airport and proceeded to the United lounge. We are both Gold members with United/Star Alliance and have had no problem entering the lounges when traveling in Gold status.
We went to customer service and the line was empty. My partner and walked to the front of the rope and stood there waiting, there were four staff behind the desk (1 male, 3 female) and one male stood beside them. We were initially ignored as all five were chatting to each other. One was reading a magazine on hair and nails. The gentleman at the side of the desk beckoned us over, yet still we were ignored. The four staff started laughing with each other as to who was going to help, pointing to each other. One woman said 'I can't help as I'm pregnant' and laughed at us. A lady (whose name we did not take) then proceeded to 'help' We asked what the difference was with the Gold access to the lounges, but she could not help. She simply told us that Gold access was for international only as 'those tickets cost more' in a very condescending tone.
Eventually the gentleman to the side of the desk explained the difference, that there are open wide access Gold lounges and United members clubs. What we had tried to enter was a members club. The lady who served us went back to reading her magazine and I apologized for interrupting her magazine reading and explained she was rude. She looked up, again with a condescending attitude and said 'Im soooo sorry'
My partner then backed up my cause explaining how rude she was, again we were met with 'Im so sorry' This wasn't an apology, but a mere attempt at belittling us. The conversation got heated and then Rodney Hill, the 'manager' appeared. The conversation went like this:
RH: 'It's time for you men to leave' My partner: 'You haven't assessed the situation, you've just turned up half way through and are demanding we leave' RH: 'I don't care, you need to leave now or I will have you removed from the airport and you won't fly' MP: 'And who are you and what is your role' RH: 'I am the manager' (delivered with a patronizing tone)
This conversation went back and forth for approximately a minute and I then ushered my partner away. Rodney was continuing to threaten us by removing us from the airport. We posed no 'threat' to be removed from the airport, the only aggravation we showed was upset from a rude service desk clerk.
After walking away Rodney followed us and continued to fuel the fire. We did challenge him to act better. He then followed us threatening again to remove us, as to which point we walked away.
Rodney Hill then shouted 'idiots' at us. Angered at this my partner attempted to walk back to challenge him, my partner shouted 'what was that?' and Rodney replied. 'What faggots?' before walking back to the customer service desk.
At this point I pulled my partner back. There was simply no point going back to the desk area as we would have been removed with force from the airport. We were not winning and could not communicate with any of the staff at this area.
We couldn't get pictures or couldn't talk to a manager for fear of getting removed from our flight. We sat in the waiting area, both of us visibly upset and shaken by what had happened. I then returned to the desk and asked for Rodney's full name. He responded by saying 'dont you dare patronize me'
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