It happens all the time: you pass the stripy helix of a barber’s pole on the street, and remember you could use a quick clean-up.
But as they waltzed into a barbershop in Cork, Ireland, Michele Giansanti and his boyfriend Robert Nagle weren’t exactly given the royal treatment by the Turkish barber manning the chairs.
He refused to serve them outright, because he suspected the men were a gay couple.
“A few days ago I needed a haircut,” Michele tells The Independent. “And my boyfriend came with me because he saw a style he wanted for me in a magazine and he wanted to explain to the guy the style. I sat down in the chair and while my boyfriend was explaining what I wanted the barber interrupted him and said he wasn’t going to do this and we could get it done next door.”
Michele had been visiting this particular barber for over 10 months and had never had a problem.
“But the second I walked in with my boyfriend he was very rude. I’m gay so I’m pretty sure that was the reason.”
Michele claims that it’s not the first time this barber has been rudely selective in who he chooses to provide his services to.
A friend of Michele’s apparently had a similar experience: the barber said his hair “was too short and he didn’t need a haircut at all.”
“I was walking in the area after and when the barber saw me he came to the door and locked it,” Michele says.
That same barber reportedly refused to help Mary Bermingham, who wanted him to cut her 13-year-old son’s hair. She suspects it’s because her son has mild cerebral palsy.
We just decided to go in for a haircut. He has cerebral palsy, it’s mild enough but he was in his wheelchair that particular day because he uses it if he gets tired so we went in for a haircut, didn’t think anything of it.
“Thomas was taking of his safety belt and he was going to get out and your man said I can’t cut his hair and I said why not and he said oh he can’t in the chair. I just asked was he serious and he opened the door for us to leave. I just couldn’t believe it, I was shocked.”
“He looked at my son like he was going to catch something and my son just put his belt back on. He didn’t want to make an issue out of it. He was embarrassed,” she continued.
“I said to him what kind of person refuses someone because they’re disabled, especially a child.”
A reported named Fergal Barry went to investigate the situation, and says he was asked to leave when he revealed he was a journalist and wanted a comment about the alleged discrimination.
He claims the barber grabbed him.
“He pushed me out of the premises not very violently but if I had resisted it would have hurt.”
The barber also followed him around the corner, insisting he never return to the premises.
Michele and Mary are planning to file a discrimination claim.
Michele says, “He had a very bad attitude. I’m surprised that that happened and at this point given the other people’s experiences I’m seriously thinking about doing that. There is clearly something wrong with that person.”
No word yet on who, exactly, this barber feels is worthy of his trusted pair of scissors.