BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Two gay men, who were holding hands in a pizza truck lineup in Columbus, Ohio, were subjected to an anti-gay rant by a man who was then told off by other customers, as well as the employees working on the truck.
In a Huffington Post piece describing the incident, Joel Diaz says he and his friend Ethan White "were laughing and joking" about the great night out they'd had when the guy in front of them turned around and told them to cut out that "gay shit."
Diaz says that while he was startled by the man's words, it was the reaction of the people in line at the popular Mikey's Late Night Slice that both surprised and moved him. He says virtually everyone told the offender that his comments were not appreciated, even as the man continued to register his disgust.
Diaz says he and White also "let him know that this was our city too and that we were not about to stand down to his bigoted ideas, especially not in one of the gayest neighborhoods in town.
"As he continued it was actually the straight people in line who spoke up that were so awesome. I didn't expect to see allies so willing to chime in and let this guy know that his hate speech wouldn't be tolerated," Diaz writes.
White says the amazing thing is that he and Diaz didn't even ask for help, but the people in line "just stood up; they weren't even mean about it, they just let him know that it wasn't all right, what he was saying."
White says to be a part of that was "life-changing."
Diaz says the best part was that the pizza truck employees stopped working, leaned out the window and told the increasingly irate man they would not serve him "because he was spewing hate."
The man eventually left the line with a friend who had been in the background, Diaz says.
"I think more importantly a guy came up for a slice of pizza and got a cold slice of justice," pizza truck employee Levi Taylor observes succinctly in an interview in the wake of the incident.
"I think stories like this shared by our LGBT friends and allies are important because it gives people hope and courage," says Diaz, who wrote about the incident in a Facebook post that went viral. "It shows that the arc of the moral universe does bend towards justice and we are not alone in this struggle."
Diaz concludes, "I firmly believe this is how we will continue to change hearts and minds across this country and in the world but we can't do it alone, we need everyone to take up our mantle for equality and drive it forward. I'm inspired and amazed at what has transpired with what started off as a simple post in appreciation of people who stood up for us and am grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit of Columbus with the world."
Watch a video of Huffington Post's interview with Joel Diaz, Ethan White and Levi Taylor.