Uber Driver Tosses Lesbian Couple Over a Kiss on the Cheek

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday September 9, 2019

A video posted to Facebook by a woman named Kristin Michele, of Camden Country, New Jersey, shows an Uber driver repeatedly shouting, "Get out!" as the person taking the video - presumably Michele - unbelievingly protests, "You're kicking me out because I'm gay?"

At one point the Uber driver admits, "Yes, I am. Yes. Get out."

The fracas unfolded after the driver took exception to Michele giving her girlfriend
"a kiss on the cheek," according to Michele's post. At that point, Michele posted, the driver "pulled the car over and said 'you need to get out of my car.'

"I asked why," Michele's post continues. "She said 'I won't have that in my car.' I asked what she was referring to. She said 'you need to get out of my car because you are gay.' "

As the video continues, the person taking the footage can be heard saying, "You're a fucking asshole... what is wrong with you? This is an Uber ride! I paid you for a service!"

"This is my personal car," the driver responds.

Michele fires back, "You can go ahead and call the fucking cops! You gotta be fucking kidding me! It is 2019! You're kicking me out of the car because I'm gay!"

"Actually, I can refuse any ride I want to," the driver responds.

That, however, may not be entirely true, at least not once the ride is in progress. According to Uber policies posted at the service's site for New York City, "It is against Uber policy and New York State law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes refusing to provide or accept service to riders on the basis of these attributes."

The policy goes on to state, "Failure to comply with this policy can result in loss of access to the Uber platform and loss of your TLC license."

Among Uber's community guidelines there are requirements set out as to respecting the driver (though no mention is made of avoiding any sort of self-disclosure, made directly to the driver or merely in their presence, that could lead to conclusions being drawn about one's sexuality), and there's also this from Uber's policies:

When you use Uber you will meet people who may look different or think differently from you. Please respect those differences. We want everyone to feel welcome when they use Uber.

NJ.com reported on the story, saying that Michele and her partner, Jenn Mangan, were traveling to a concert on Sept. 6 when the Uber driver took note of the kiss and ordered the two of them out of her car.

"I said 'I don't understand,' " NJ.com quoted Michele as telling the media. "She said, 'I can't ride with that. You kissed her.' "

Added Michele, "She said, 'I won't have that.' "

According to NJ.com, the driver cited her Christian faith as a rationale for denying the women the ride they had paid for (to say nothing of the hospitality of ensuring they got safely to their destination). In the end, Michele and Mangan resorted to taking a train to Camden for the concert, NJ.com reported.

Mangan opined that it is "quite ridiculous that people are still like that," but went on to say that after she posted the video to Facebook and it went viral, the feedback she's received has been "nothing but supportive," the NJ.com article said.

The video ends with the driver announcing, "I'm calling the police."

"Please call the police," the person making the video responds.

Media reports indicated that Uber had suspended the driver's privileges while looking into the incident.

Despite the ride share's stated policies, Uber drivers still toss LGBTQ people out of their cars from time to time. Earlier this year an Australian couple were left stranded on the side of a busy roadway after one of the men gave his partner a kiss on the forehead.

According to Aaron Brown and Ryan Ottey, the driver told them, "Not in my car. I can't take you." Brown told the media that he and Ottey were "dumbfounded" at the driver's instant and vitriolic display of homophobia.

When they asked the driver to explain his demand that they exit the vehicle, the driver told them, "I can't drive you anymore, this is my car and I'm not driving that," Brown related.

In that case, Uber responded to the men's complaint about being left on a toll road with a message reading, "This isn't the regular Uber experience, and you shouldn't have to put up with this kind of inappropriate behavior."

Watch Michele's video 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.

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