A Houston photographer says a prospective client attacked and insulted her after learning she was a lesbian, and tried to ruin her business by posting negative reviews on social media sites.
Alicia Verdier, the owner of Alicia Verdier Photography, recently detailed her interaction with the anti-gay client in a blog post for Equality Texas.
According to Verdier, the woman hired her to photograph a birthday party for the woman’s 5-year-old daughter. Verdier emailed the client, talking back and forth about dates and times, specific shots to take, and what kind of packages she could offer the client. But the woman stopped responding.
Two days later, the woman messaged Verdier, asking if she was gay, and if she photographed gay people. The women said she had visited Verdier’s personal Facebook page and noticed an LGBTQ Pride flag filter on her profile picture.
“My first thought was that maybe she was a part of the LGBTQ community and wanted some reassurance,” Verdier wrote in her blog post. “My second thought, though, was that things were about to get very unpleasant.”
Verdier confirmed her sexuality to the woman, only to be subjected to non-stop verbal harassment.
According to the Houston-based OutSmart Magazine, the woman told Verdier she would no longer hire her, that she had no business working with babies or children, and that she didn’t want to expose her daughter to someone whose “lifestyle” was sinful.
“I hate how the gays are always trying to push your agenda on the rest of the country,” the client wrote. “The next thing you know, they’ll be telling everyone that being attracted to children is natural and the way some people are born.… You’re going to burn in Hell. I want everyone to know what kind of awful things you stand for, and I will be sure to let everyone know!
“Don’t you know Texas is a Christian state?” the woman continued. “Why did you even think it would be okay to bring your kind of lifestyle here? Stay away from our good Christian families and our kids! You homos are trying to ruin this country. I wish we could go back to the days when men loved women and families were pure.”
Verdier tried to cut off communication with the woman, who proceeded to post negative ratings and reviews of Verdier’s business on online websites and social media. Verdier eventually was able to get the fake reviews removed, but says it’s been hard not to take the incident personally.
Verdier told OutSmart that she considered releasing the woman’s name when sharing her story. But she realized it would not change the woman’s mind, and didn’t want to stoop to her level, saying she knows what it feels like to have someone try to destroy her reputation.
Verdier has since added a statement to her business’s Facebook page saying that she works “with people from all walks of life, without hesitation” and doesn’t discriminate against any particular group — a move that lost her some followers. But she felt it was necessary to avoid another awkward encounter with someone who might be opposed to working with a gay photographer.
“My work is intrinsically tied to who I am, so it affected me,” she wrote on Equality Texas’ blog. “I do not hide the fact that I’m gay, but suddenly I was worried that it might prevent me from being successful as a photographer in Texas.
“I live every day trying to model pride for my children, because I want them to always know that they should love themselves and others, as they are. But reading her words, I didn’t feel proud; I felt a little broken,” Verdier added. “That’s why I am so grateful for the people who continued to stand by me and endorse my photography. Their support for my business overwhelmed me with hope for the future of the LGBTQ community.”
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