Metro Weekly

Ex-marine told to stop kissing boyfriend at “patriotic” restaurant

James Lacey was asked to stop being affectionate with his boyfriend because other patrons were "offended"

James Lacey, Credit: News 6

James Lacey, Credit: News 6

“Kissing on the lips, hugging, holding each other. Just being like a normal straight couple, and they were pretty much offended by it.”

James Lacey, a U.S. Marine veteran, speaking with News 6 Orlando. Lacey claims that he and his boyfriend were singled out for being gay at Original First Turn Restaurant in Port Orange.

After engaging in public displays of affection, Lacey says that a manager pulled him aside and asked him to stop, because other diners were “offended.”

“She said some of the customers were complaining about our PDA and were offended,” he said. “The manager told us that it’s not welcomed here.”

Lacey returned to his partner and the group of friends they were with and chose to leave the restaurant. News 6 spoke with a manager, who said Original First Turn was a “patriotic and family restaurant of more than 30 years. We don’t discriminate against anybody. We never have and never will. Safety and comfort for all our customers is top priority.”

But Lacey wasn’t convinced.

“I’m pretty sure if you saw a man and woman giving kiss on the cheek or a kiss on lips, they’re not going to say that’s not tolerated here, that’s not welcomed,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. I truly feel it’s because we’re a gay couple.

“Everybody’s willing to take us in, but the second you show public affection, there’s somebody who’s offended by it,” he added. “And we’re the ones who pay the price. We’re the ones who need to leave.”

In a letter posted to Facebook, Lacey took the restaurant to task for the way he was treated, noting that he served in the military to “protect the rights of all Americans.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.