Sheepshead Diner Becomes Test Scene For Gay Tolerance

A still from the video segment. What diner is this, anyway?

In an upcoming segment of ABC News’ “What Would You Do?”, patrons of a Sheepshead Bay diner witness gay couples harassed by a waiter. The staged intolerance is part of an experiment to see how locals react to the prejudice. The result? Well, apparently Sheepshead Bay doesn’t care for lesbians.

Here’s the scene:

While enjoying a bite to eat at a local diner, you overhear a waiter giving two women at the next table a hard time.
“Are you sisters?” he asks them. “Are your husbands joining you?”
At first, he just seems to be a nuisance but then he gets personal.
“Oh, you’re lesbians?” he exclaims. “What about your kids? Don’t they need daddies?”
The two women and their children are shocked and embarrassed. As they try to place an order, the waiter gets even more incensed and finally asks them to leave. As the family of four gets up to go, they catch your eye.
What Would You Do?

On first take, a local man got up and barked at the waiter, “You know what? … I don’t like it. I don’t believe in it. But as long as they’re not sitting there kissing while I’m sitting here with my daughter…”

Sheesh… there are back-handed compliments, but can you give a back-handed civil rights defense?

Still, this old man’s got better chops than other patrons of the unidentified diner. Take after take, and no one else stood up to defend the couple. According to the synopsis, “People said they didn’t get involved because they thought it wasn’t their business and the family could fend for themselves.”

When the producers switched the couple out for a pair of gay men, several more people stood up in defense of the patrons. One couple, married for 20 years, joined the actors at their table and offered their support, even telling the waiter to “Turn around and walk away.”

Granted, it’s a totally unscientific “experiment.” But Sheepshead Bay residents were disappointingly slow to protect the rights of gay couples, especially lesbians. Do you think this is typical of our neighborhood? What contributes to their reluctance to get involved? Do you think it would be the same if they did this in, say, Park Slope?

The segment airs Wednesday, May 19, at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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