Watch: 'Mr. Gay Canada' Says Sheraton in Puerto Vallarta Backed Out as Wedding Venue

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday December 11, 2019

YouTube and television personality, travel blogger, and "Mr. Gay Canada" Josh Rimer took to the Internet Dec. 10 to share what he says was a "homophobic" experience inflicted on him and his fiancé by a Sheraton hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

"This one really takes the cake," Rimer declared on camera. By that, he presumably meant the wedding cake. The hotel, Rimer told his audience, refused to host his wedding because it involved two grooms.

Rimer recounted how he and his fiancé had been looking for "the perfect all-inclusive resort" for the wedding, which he said would include 40 - 45 guests. The place they settled on, he said, offered "a good location and seemed to check off all of our boxes." But then their chosen venue - the Sheraton Buganvilias Convention Center - checked an unexpected additional box: Apparent homophobia.

Rimer recounts how he went online, filled out the form for the event, and then heard nothing back. He departed on a trip to South Africa but had heard nothing in response to his email query by the time he returned. He decided to phone the hotel - and that's when things started getting weird.

First, Rimer said, his call resulted in his winning a cruise for two. After some back and forth with a woman on the other end of the call, Rimer said, he told her, "Forget it, no, just put us through to the hotel." But when the call was then redirected, it was to another message that informed Rimer that the hotel's number had changed and the call would now incur an additional charge.

Rimer decided at that point to "call the direct line - the actual local number in Mexico." After being transferred to the voice mail of the person in charge of handling weddings at the hotel, Rimer said, he left a message - and again received no response.

Deciding a third call was in order, Rimer says, he called "the toll-free reservation line," only to once again get a message about entering to win a free cruise. Resorting once more to the "local direct" number, Rimer finally had the chance to speak to someone in person about the wedding, which he specified was to take place "in the third week of April." After providing his email address to the person on the other end of the call, Rimer said, he then proceeded to wait fruitlessly once more.

Calling yet again, Rimer asked to speak with a manager. But after recounting the entire saga up to that point, Rimer said, he ended up being transferred "to the same wedding person I had already spoken to."

This time, the call succeeded in prompting an email response including information about the hotel's wedding services. Calling back with questions, Rimer encountered still more odd interactions; eventually, the subject of his wedding involving two grooms came up.

"Oh, well, we don't specialize in same-sex weddings," Rimer says he was told at that point. "There's other venues that do, and this isn't really something that we deal with..." Rimer goes on to say that the person on the other end of the call then went off on "a very long, weird, rambling answer" to his question - which was, innocuously enough, whether Rimer and his groom could obtain two grooms' boutonnieres rather than a boutonniere and a bridal bouquet.

Rimer interrupted at length, and the person on the other end then told him, he says, that she would need to "check with" others about dates and other details, and promised to return his call.

But history simply repeated itself, with no return call forthcoming.

"So then, I give her a call, and guess what..." Rimer ended up in the woman's voice mail (which, bizarrely, she had claimed in the earlier call did not exist). Undaunted, Rimer then sent an email.

"And she emails me back today," Rimer recounts, "and says this."

Rimer then shows a message, with certain passages redacted and bearing the Sheraton logo, that states that "our staff is not specialized to carry out an equal wedding and we would not like to take your wedding as a trial and error and our service could be poor compared to what characterized Sheraton, because we know and we are aware that is your special day for you and your fiancé, and do not want that by our non-specialized service some conflict can be generated on your big day."

The message goes on to suggest other hotels in the same corporate family that "do have this specialization."

"This doesn't make sense on so many levels," Rimer tells his viewers, going on to note that Puerto Vallarta is a "gay-friendly" destination and Sheraton is "a major brand - and you're telling me that you cannot accommodate same-sex weddings.

"Two," Rimer continued, "what do you mean specialize in it? Why does anybody have to specialize in a same-sex wedding? Ninety-fiver percent of our guests are going to be straight!, there's not going to be much to specialize, other than it's going to be a groom and a groom, rather than a bride and a groom.

"I don't know if she thinks we're going to show up in Speedos with go-go dancers, and we expect the officiant to be wearing leather chaps," Rimer goes on to say. "This is just a normal wedding! It just happens to be with two guys."

For that matter, Rimer asks, "Why don't you specialize in it? It's 2019! You're a hotel!"

Calling the response "outrageous," Rimer reiterates that this is the response he got from a major hotel brand, before taking note of his own status as a "social media influencer" and a "travel blogger" that a hotel might have been happy to welcome.

"So now we're back at square one," Rimer laments. "We do not have a venue to get married at."

Rimer goes on to wonder whether this is a "policy" that extends "across the board" for the Sheraton brand.

Calling the indecent "probably the most homophobic experience I've ever encountered personally in my entire life," Rimer adds. "So the whole thing really just blows my mind."

Rimer wraps up with, "Fingers crossed that we can get married in April 2020, and it'll be a beautiful, joyous day. I just don't think that's too much to ask for - even if we're gay."

Watch Rimer's account below.

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.

Comments on Facebook