A gay man has alleged that a staff member of a Dublin barbershop used a homophobic slur while cutting his hair.
In a Twitter post, the man states the staff member shouted the homophobic slur to someone else in the barbershop. He wrote, “It wasn’t used against me but as a gay man I still found that very shocking and uncomfortable. I won’t be going back.”
Speaking with GCN, the man said, “I knew it had to be reported because if I was less secure in my sexuality or if someone was more sensitive to that sort of language they could find it genuinely quite triggering. So I was expecting by reporting it, someone from management would sit [the staff member] down and say ‘here we’ve had this report come in, please just be more careful to watch your language in future and be mindful of the potential sensitivities of customers who come in for your service’.”
While the man shared that the barbershop did not initially reply to his email reporting the slur, their official Twitter account responded to his online post by stating, “We have acted on this immediately as we don’t tolerate any such actions or comments. The 2 staff members that are working today are saying this never happened, one of which is lgbt.”
Following the barbershop’s statement, the LGBT+ community are calling out the lack of a response from the management team. The man said, “Their reply on Twitter was really disgusting to me, it genuinely upset me more than the incident itself because it just goes to show they really don’t care to actually take meaningful action on this type of thing.”
On Twitter, This Is Me founder Noah Halpin spoke about his own experience with the Dublin-based barbers, “As a trans man, in an earlier period of my transition, I went to [the barbershop] and they refused to cut my hair, stating to me from across the room with a packed waiting area ‘We don’t do girls’. I told them I wasn’t a girl. Still they refused. Head office denied it ever happened.”
Speaking out against the last line of the barbershop’s response to the alleged homophobic slur, Halpin wrote, “Using a defense of ‘We had an LGBT staff member there’ means nothing. For underpaid, overworked employees to risk speaking out against their employers in the current climate and during a recession would be financial suicide. What a weak defense of an obviously ongoing problem.”
Another person stated on Twitter, “Saying that one of your staff is “lgbt” and you don’t tolerate homophobia doesn’t automatically negate the fact that homophobic language ~could~ have been used in the store by an employee. Investigate and take complaints seriously [the barber shop] — this isn’t good enough.”
The LGBT+ community are also sharing the challenges they face in finding a queer friendly place for haircuts. Artist and activist Shubhangi Karmakar wrote, “I’d love to go to a barbershop, grew up all my life going to them and I’d find them really identity-affirming. But between non-binary erasure and transphobia and general queerphobia, places like these feel so unsafe.”
DJ Stephen Dowling called on people to start a thread of queer friendly barbers to a provide a useful resource for the community. In his Twitter post, he highlights some Dublin based hairdressers that provide a safe and welcoming environment.
In regards to the outpour of support from the man’s initial report, he shared, “The response has been unreal, it started with a few friends replying to the tweet but now it’s grown to a couple thousand likes and over a hundred people have quote tweet [the barbershop’s] response, calling it out. What I find especially encouraging is seeing a lot of queer-friendly barbers being recommended, which is especially needed for trans men who I can imagine can get fierce anxiety over trying to find a barber who won’t discriminate against them based on their gender!”
GCN have also reached out to the Dublin barbershop for comment.
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