Gay Plano couple asked to leave family fun center, told they are ‘not family’

Posted on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:09pm

Alberto Lesmes, right, and his partner Chad Hemp.

A gay Plano couple is upset after a fun date night Sunday at Main Event was ruined when they were told they were not a family and asked to leave the venue.

Alberto Lesmes said he and his partner Chad Hemp went to the location at 3941 Central Expressway around 8:30 p.m. Sunday for a night of bowling. When their bowling lane continued to have technical difficulties, they requested a new lane.

Main Event Entertainment is a Dallas-based company with family entertainment centers featuring recreational bowling, billiards, laser tag and a unique selection of interactive games throughout Texas, according to its website.

Once the couple began to bowl in the new lane, a child from a large group next to them kept bowling in their lane. Lesmes said his partner went up to ask if they could be moved again. When Lesmes saw his partner get upset, he went over to speak to the manager on duty.

The manager was already irritated, Lesmes said, and said they were causing a problem by asking to be moved again. The manager asked if they were professional bowlers. When the couple replied they were not, the manager said the venue was a family environment. Lesmes said he told the manager he was with his family. When the manager asked where they were, Lesmes pointed to his partner and said they were family and wanted to enjoy their evening.

But the manager refused to move them to another lane and told them that they “were not family.”

“He said, ‘My resolution is to refund your game and let you leave,’” Lesmes said, so they left. “He didn’t want to resolve it with us. … Instead of acknowledging that two men are here together, they just asked us to leave.”

Lesmes called to speak to the general manager Tuesday, but the manager allegedly refused to speak with him. The woman who answered the phone asked what the situation was and told Lesmes that the incident didn’t happen. He told her that he was a party involved in the incident.

“She pretty much called me a liar,” he said, adding that she referred him to corporate but he couldn’t get through to anyone.

When Dallas Voice called the Plano location and asked for the manager, George, who said he was the manager, told us he couldn’t comment because he wasn’t there Sunday night and referred us to corporate.

Amy Johnson, director of Main Event’s marketing, said she wouldn’t comment until she’d spoken with Lesmes and his partner. She said the company takes “any guest complaints, issues and feedback very seriously.”

She emailed the company’s nondiscrimination policy:

We at Main Event Entertainment embrace all cultures and pride ourselves on providing an exceptional EAT.BOWL.PLAY experience to all of our guests no matter what their age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual preference or national origin.

Our foremost concern is that ALL our guests are treated with respect and with care in each of our centers and that each guest’s experience is one that reflects our mission of fun.

On the rare occasion of guest complaints due to our service or employee actions, Main Event management is committed to full investigation and corrective actions that ensure we maintain a welcoming and safe place for all our community and every family to enjoy.

Jeanne Rubin, vice president of Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said she hadn’t heard of the incident but said she would look into it and offer to be a mediator and a resource for the couple and company. She said she has been to the Frisco Main Event with Collin County Youth First Texas, the LGBT youth organization, and never had any problems.

Lesmes said he and his partner hadn’t been to Main Event before Sunday and would never return after the treatment. He said he wants an apology for the way they were treated.

“Our goal is to hopefully bring awareness to all communities that there should be zero tolerance for any kind of prejudice based on same-sex relationships, multi-racial or otherwise,” he said.  “To be told we are ‘not family’ is inexcusable. All we are seeking is an apology for the abrupt and rude communication from management and other parties involved.”

There is no state or federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. Some cities, like Dallas and Fort Worth, have enacted local bans, but Plano is not one of them.

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