A gay actor who was on a date at a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles is receiving an outpouring of support online after experiencing a homophobic episode with a manager at the establishment.
On Monday evening, Drew Droege was enjoying the company of his date while the couple was dining and having drinks before a show the pair was planning to see. The two men had enjoyed dinner and drinks and were expressing their affection for one another when, according to Droege, the manager of El Compadre in Echo Park approached the couple.
"We had our arms around each other and kissed a few times," Droege wrote in a Facebook post. "A manager approached our table and said something to the [effect] of, 'you guys can't do that here."
Droege continued, "We were confused at first, but then he very firmly stated, 'this is a family restaurant.'"
He wrote that he asked the manager whether somebody had complained because, as far as he could see, the restaurant was filled with straight couples who were dining, laughing, and engaging in similarly affectionate behavior.
"He threw his hands in front of us and said, 'I don't care if you're the President of the United States, we don't allow your behavior here,'" Droege recounted on Facebook.
El Compadre Restaurants posted a statement to Instagram on Tuesday before deleting it.
"We have read all of your comments and concerns, and we are looking into what happened Monday night at our Echo Park location," the message read. "While we work to learn more, we want to make it clear we stand with the LGBTQ community and hold no space for intolerance, hate, or unjust treatment of our beloved guests regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or status. We were built off of the core value to do everything with love, and we will do what it takes to continue to warmly welcome any and every guest into a safe community."
The message concluded, "Please give us time to seek out what happened, gather more information, and take appropriate action. We will update you soon."
The Advocate reached out to the restaurant, but the inquiry went unanswered.
The restaurant's message is not impressive for Droege, and he tells The Advocate he stands by his initial reaction.
Droege, known for his impressions of actress Chloe Sevigny, saysthat he and his date had only been out together a few times but that the couple, shocked and disappointed, are caring for one another to get past the incident.
"He is a fighter, and so am I," Droege says. "And wow, we are getting flooded with support from friends and allies in and of the community."
The Facebook post and a post on Instagram have garnered tens of thousands of reactions, including many fellow actors, almost exclusively in support.
Out actor Matt Bomer showed his support for Doege on Instagram, writing, "I'm so sorry to hear this Drew," before joking, "I'm glad you had a good make out session though!"
"They are lucky someone as adorable and glamorous as you even went there! Obviously this place is dead to me. Also mazel on the makeout at least," actor Leslie Grossman wrote.
Tuc Watkins commented, "Maybe we should all go. En masse. All at once."
"I have never been asked not to show love in public," Droege says. "Sadly, I have dealt with homophobia all my life and thought that a display of affection in Los Angeles was a safe thing to do."
But, he says, the outpouring of support has reaffirmed that most people are not bigots.
"Given all this support, I do feel safer and supported," he says. "This was one a**hole. This was not the entire restaurant. This is not our city."
Droege highlighted the most distressing part of the interaction on his social media post, which gave him pause.
"The chilling and pointed tone of 'We're a family restaurant. We don't allow your behavior here,'" he wrote.
Droege closed his Facebook post by asking others to empathize with LGBTQ+ people.
"Ever wonder why gay people often seem nervous? Why do we walk faster? Why do we work so hard to please others and be good little citizens in this world?" he asked. "I will never be back. I encourage you all to find another place too."