Suffolk couple uses 'gay bashing' encounter as teachable moment

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A Suffolk couple is striking a tone of forgiveness after they say they were "gay bashed" at a Smithtown restaurant last Friday.

Marc and Craig Hollid-Ausset say a waiter, surrounded by other staff, at Casa Rustica made a gesture and uttered a gay slur in Spanish as they were leaving.

The men say they immediately told a manager but felt like nothing was going to be done, so they made a public Facebook post about it. And immediately after the post, people came to the defense of the restaurant and the couple.

"The hardest part of running a business is the employees," one poster wrote. "I feel terrible this happened to the couple and that a few ignorant employees could affect the reputation of an amazing restaurant."

Casa Rustica's owner, who didn't want to speak on camera, saw the post and personally apologized to the men. He then wrote in a post on the restaurant's Facebook page: "We accept everyone's lifestyle" and "we feel terrible that these customers had to go through such a horrific experience in our building. No excuse for it. We promise you that we will never let anything like this happen again."

User: Casa Rustica To: link

Marc says the owner seemed genuinely upset and heartbroken by the incident, so the couple asked him to give his staff training on inclusivity. And Craig says raising awareness and fostering change is "the right thing to take away."

The owner told the couple he was willing to fire the waiter who said the slur, but they said no. Instead, the waiter was suspended for a few days. The couple says they believe he too can change.

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