An antique store owner in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has found himself in hot water for telling a lesbian couple to stop holding hands in the shop.
According to Ashley Looper and Jessica Perkins, the couple had stopped in to look around Spa City Treasures on Saturday when the store’s owner, Steve Salyers, started to follow them around the shop watching their every move. Eventually, Salyers gathered up the courage to talk to the hedonistic pair and told them to stop holding hands because it was a “family” store.
“I’m a family person, so I want this to be a family store,” he told KARK-TV. “It’s like I wouldn’t want to take my kids to a strip club or something. I just felt like they were just doing something that was inappropriate to have kids around. It would have been the same whether it had been regular people or not.”
Salyers pointed out that he didn’t ask the couple to leave the store, only to stop holding hands. The couple still made a quick exit.
“My reaction was, ‘Excuse me?,'” said Looper. “I squeezed her hand a little bit tighter and said, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ We weren’t doing anything but trying to spend money and time together. We weren’t being derogatory. We weren’t being all handsy. Simply holding hands.”
Let’s be clear. The bulk of “family” shopping at antique stores are gay men – especially in a touristy place like Hot Springs. Predictably, Looper and Perkins queer family is outraged and has flocked to the store’s social media pages to loudly condemn the homophobic owner and his creepy lesbian stalking.
“Only for sale to white, inbred, bigoted, fake Christians only. If you aren’t a white racist inbred piece of shit you are not allowed to purchase anything in this store,” the particularly erudite Marcos Bustamante commented on a Facebook video of one booth featuring wooden signs and dog beds.
A video of another booth featuring “great items and great prices,” drew Skip Simons’ attention. “Was this coming shitstorm really worth whining about girls holding hands? You look like a fool on Facebook, you’re obviously going to lose buisiness, and you can’t get a GOFUNDME for being a BIGOT. So, I hope this was all worth it….,” he said.
Hot Springs has a nondiscrimination ordinance, but it only covers city agencies or vendors and not private businesses. Arkansas law forbids cities from providing discrimination protections to LGBT people because they aren’t covered under state law.