Airline Employee Humiliates Gay Couple

The gay couple had just enjoyed a holiday in Costa Rica. Their return flights to Norfolk, Virginia, had been uneventful.

Between Houston and Norfolk an employee of United/Continental decided to play a trick on them. Michael Hamar wrote about it on The Bilerico Project. Extracting a large purple dildo from one of their bags, the airline’s joker taped up the bag (whose zipper looks wrecked in the photo but isn’t), leaving the sex toy emerging prominently. Some foul-smelling substance had been smeared on it to make it look used.

Picture the scene in Norfolk. In order to retrieve the bag from the carousel, the men had to reveal something normally kept within the privacy of a relationship. They were mortified.

They called Hamar to express their distress. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and also their friend. They e-mailed the details, including these:

SO EMBARRASSED, ABSOLUTELY MORTIFIED…just knowing that everyone in sight had already seen it and after looking at their faces that depicted disbelief, some were snickering, others completely astonished, and of course, disgust was ubiquitous. . . . .

When I first read the account, I figured some United staff member was guilty of a reprehensible breach of privacy but not necessarily homophobia. However, a blog post on Michael-In-Norfolk points out the names of both men were on the bag, along with their shared address.

According to Hamar, United/Continental’s response to the couple’s distress has showed little sympathy or understanding. So on August 12, 2012 the couple filed a petition in court alleging emotional distress, invasion of privacy and negligence.

NBC News reports the airline conducted a thorough investigation and found no basis for the couple’s allegations. Company spokeswoman Christen David stated: “United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We will vigorously defend ourselves and our employees.”

Next: Airlines Needs to Reassure the Traveling Public

The airlines bills itself as LGBT-friendly, but corporate intentions must travel right through the ranks if the claim is to be anything more than words. Instead of brushing off the couple’s complaints, as Hamar alleges, they should have dealt with them in a way that assured them and other LGBT people (and, quite frankly, any of us traveling on their airlines) they would never again be subjected to such a disgusting stunt.

The two men who filed the petition are a married couple. They were on a holiday that should have ended in smiles instead of horror. Their humiliation matters. Their bag did not arrive on the carousel without some United/Continental employee’s figuring it was okay to pull an old-boy trick.

The outcome of the court case will make a difference to the traveling public. According to Scientific America, sex toys are a $500 million industry in North America – annually. A lot of them end up in baggage, and not one of the travelers expects to find them publicly displayed at the end of a journey.

I have deliberately avoided using the men’s name here, although they are easy to find through the links. They deserve our thanks for refusing to quietly swallow their embarrassment. This kind of egregious act will not end until more of us are willing to speak up and speak out.

Related Care2 Stories

“Gay Marriage Is Good” Say British Conservatives, US Republicans

‘Gay Marriage Potential’ Means Church Won’t Sell to Couple

Study: Homophobia Masks Gay Feelings


Photo 1 from Michael-In-Norfolk blog; Photo 2: from pdell via morgueFile

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Cristina S.
Cristina S.2 years ago

I'm appalled at the cruelty...

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen3 years ago

erg. i wonder what it would of been like if their "toy" was a Bad Dragon one.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

“United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We will vigorously defend ourselves and our employees.”

Talk is cheap. ..."not tolerate discrimination" means nothing more than that they will hand out a warning or two if someone got caught red handed, but to say they defend themselves and all their employees without taking any sort of action is just empty words and means nothing in the end. Hope the couple wins because it's important not to accept events like this.

Wendy Schroeder
Wendy Schroeder3 years ago

Those men did nothing to the idiot who embarrassed them. Why would anyone do such a thing and think it's "just a joke". I say that because to bullies that what hurting people is to them, a joke.

Carla van der Meer

What a tacky and childish thing to do.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon3 years ago

This kind of adolescent sexual attitude is considered funny by way too many people. When it spills over into public behavior of this sort, it should be dealt with as the offense it is.

Kevin W.
Kevin W.3 years ago

I think the employee who did this should be at least punished by the airline but I doubt they will ever determine the culprit. In toady's air travel I think one can reasonably expect that anything in your checked baggage or your carry on may come under scrutiny and may be exposed to public view if removed from your bag for inspection. Personally, I wouldn't caryy anything that I would be embarrassed for people to see and I would keep things I didn't want tampered with in my carry on. The days when you could expect your checked baggage to be safe secure are long gone.

Don Schneider
Don Schneider3 years ago

There are some real idiots commenting on this article, and some that just can't read. An injustice to one is an injustice to all PERIOD !

Susan O.
Susan O.3 years ago

Well ... since Untied (

Alicia N.
Alicia N.3 years ago