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Kiss-in against homophobia a success!

Queer couple gets apology from Mexicali Rosa's owner

Two men asked to stop kissing at an Ottawa restaurant received an apology from the establishment’s owner — after they staged a kiss-in on Jul 19.

Adam Graham and Phillip Banks were sitting on the patio of Mexicali Rosa’s at Dow’s Lake, enjoying a few beers and gently kissing. The weather was bad, so the two were alone on the patio.

“This guy comes up to us, out of the blue, and he awkwardly says ‘there are children inside and they have questions’,” says Graham. It was the restaurant manager, and he asked the two to “cool it down or leave.” According to Graham, the manager said he would tell any ‘normal’ couple to do the same.

The two men work as educators at AIDS organizations in Ottawa and Vancouver and run workshops on homophobia and discrimination, so they told the manager that they were ready to answer any questions the children had. He didn’t seem to appreciate their sense of humour, and he walked away when they questioned him further, Banks says.

A few days later, they planned to stage a kiss-in against homophobia at Mexicali Rosa’s on Jul 19. They enlisted a group of queer couples and straight allies and planned to enter the restaurant, order some drinks and food, and make out.

About 20 to 30 people showed up. Graham and Banks got the group started by standing and kissing. The other queer couples, spread out across the restaurant also stood up and kissed. Other members of the group handed out pamphlets to restaurant patrons, explaining the reason for the kiss-in protest.

Michael Burtch, who attended the event, said that some of the staff called the queers “gross,” but other staff appeared supportive or even oblivious to what was going on.

The manager who originally asked the two men to stop kissing was not working at the time of the kiss-in, but Graham and Banks delivered a letter to the shift supervisor. In the letter, they asked for an apology and a guarantee that future patrons would not be treated in such a way.

On Jul 20, Graham says he received a phone call from the franchise owner of Mexicali Rosa’s, who apologized for the incident and stated that the restaurant does not discriminate against any race or sexual orientation. He said all people, including queers, are welcome to show intimacy.

“He did mention that our clothes needed to be on, which means that we still have some work to do,” jokes Graham.