Another NYC Driver Shows Homophobic Stripes

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 18, 2018

Just last week reports surfaced that over Pride weekend in Manhattan an Uber drive tossed a lesbian couple out of his car for a quick, affectionate peck. Now headlines claim that a few days after the Uber driver's anti-LGBTQ actions, a New York City taxi driver told a man and his female friend that he doesn't serve gays.

NBC News reported that Ryan Smith and a female friend were riding in a "yellow taxi cab" when the driver suddenly demanded to know whether Smith was gay.

The NBC story quoted Smith as saying that the driver "interrupted our conversation and was like, 'Are you gay?'" According to Smith when he said yes the driver responded, "I don't drive gays." Smith and his friend, identified in media reports as Chanel Carroll, demanded to be let out of the cab at that point - but not before Carroll took a quick photo of the taxi's medallion number.

Smith took to Facebook to share about the experience, and was met with supportive comments.

Smith's description of the encounter detailed the exchange in question.

"We were both sure we were mistaken at what this man had asked through both the plexiglass dividing us and his accent; until he repeated himself 'Are you a gay man?' " Smith posted. "Shocked, but definitely certain now what was asked of me and where this conversation was going, I looked back at him and mustered all the power of #Pride month that I could and said 'Yes. I am.' He then followed with 'I don't drive gays.' "

Smith went on to note, "This was actually the second time this had happened to me in NYC in the past 5 years but the shock and burn of it all was no less than before."

Smith's posted ended with an appeal for "any connections/insight in the city that may help us take action against this man to strip him of his medallion?"

It wasn't long before Smith got the information he needed; reported that the driver is now "under investigation."

Various media outlets, including Pix11 reported on the response that a Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesperson offered to the incident.

"This driver's behavior, as described, was totally egregious and unacceptable," the spokesperson said, going on to say that any such discriminatory treatment of passengers by drivers - regardless of whether they drive a cab or for services like Uber and Lyft - should "be reported directly to the TLC" by way of 311 or NYC.GOV and not just to the company or service the driver works for. "While an app may 'kick' such a driver off their platform," the spokesperson pointed out, the Taxi and Limousine Commission "is the only one that has the ability to take action, such as suspending or revoking a driver's TLC license."

That is exactly what the TLC is now seeking to do in the case of the Uber driver who ordered the lesbian couple of out his car, NBC reported.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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