A spa in Naples, Florida has come under fire after its manager vehemently refused to provide service to a gay couple who walked in for a massage.
On Monday, customer Michael Levenosa took to Facebook to recall the incident at Joy Feet Spa, which he described to have put his “humanity to the test.”
“My boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to have a relaxing Monday. When we arrived the manager refused to service us because we are two gay men. He made it clear it had to be a man and a woman,” Levenosa wrote. The Miami native added that they had paid $109 in advance for the service, which was advertised as a couple’s massage.In an accompanying video, an Asian man argues from behind a counter while Levenosa and his boyfriend, Arnaldo, speak behind the camera.
“I can’t believe we’re actually being discriminated against,” one of them says.
“A couple is only a man and a woman,” the man behind the counter insists before offering them a refund. A woman, presumably another spa worker, giggles beside him.
“We’ve been to many, many massage parlors and they have taken us,” the couple claim. “Why are you denying us? Because we’re gay? ‘Coz we’re both men, correct? Where does it say it in the fine print?”
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Shortly, the man behind the counter identifies as the manager and offers them service, but for a different price. “For two men, it’s a different price. We can do that [massage], but it’s a different price.”
Levenosa and his boyfriend requested for the spa owner’s number before leaving the establishment. It’s unclear if they contacted it later.
“Thank you my friend. I appreciate the visit,” the manager replies as the couple head for the door.
Joy Feet Spa immediately received a wave of backlash on its Facebook and Yelp pages. Later on the same day, the manager, identified as Jerry Liu, issued an apology.
“Michael! I would say sorry to you and your boyfriend. I [misunderstood]. Could I do something to make up? I will give you and your boyfriend one hour massage for free to say SORRY! Hope you and your boyfriend happily ever are [sic]. Sorry again!” wrote Liu, according to the Miami Herald.
Liu reportedly moved to the U.S. from China few years ago. He blamed cultural difference in another post.
“In my country, a couple means a man and a woman as couple [sic]. I never see a couple have same sex. I am sorry, I didn’t mean [to] discriminate any gay or lesbian. I respect any one find the true love and also I hope they will love each other forever whatever they are both men or woman [sic].”
Levenosa told NBC-2 that the incident left him in shock.
“I was just in shock. I was like, ‘Why?’ He was like, ‘Cause it’s female and male,’ and he just kept pointing to a poster on the wall for couples massages. You hear stories and stuff, but here where I live in Naples, Florida? I would’ve never thought that would happen.”
When asked if he would take Liu’s free massage offer, Levenosa told Yahoo! Lifestyle, “Heck no. I can’t go back there, all I’ll be thinking about is how they treated us when we first got there. People need to treat people how they want to be treated. It’s that simple.”