Lesbian Waitress Denied Tip From Homophobic Couple

Instead of a tip, Heaton received a homophobic message.

Samantha Heaton's tattoo and the receipt
Samantha Heaton’s tattoo and the receipt Photo by Joelle Nicole Maish

Working in the service industry is demanding work. It’s physical and emotional labor, especially for waitresses who have to put on a smile and serve a crowded restaurant. In America, servers rely on tips for their income—restaurants usually paying around a measly $4 per hour wage. When customers deny someone their tip, that’s denying them of making a living.

This is exactly what happened to Samantha Heaton, a waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings in Illinois on a recent shift. Heaton said she went above and beyond for this couple who racked up a $60 bill during their meal. She was shocked when she picked up their receipt seeing they hadn’t left her any tip. Instead, what she found was a homophobic message for her.

The couple wrote, “Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus!” Followed by “Bad tattoo,” alluding to Heaton’s rainbow equality sign tattoo on her arm. Heaton was taken aback by the messages, remarking to The Rock River Times that she had lovely exchanges with the couple and not once did politics or religion come up in their conversation.

“I went above and beyond for this couple, and for them to leave that kind of hurt. Like, I have bills to pay too.”

What should have been $12 tip in her pocket become an unnecessary and hurtful remark on Heaton, who identifies as a lesbian. Though these words hurt her, Heaton said she’s most concerned about the messages this couple is passing onto their children. “The kids are going to be under the impression that it will be OK to discriminate against anybody,” she said.

A coworker snapped a photo of the receipt alongside Heaton’s tattoo in hopes to raise awareness on Facebook that not all LGBTQ people are atheist and to assume so is homophobic. “I would just like to say that being gay does NOT MEAN you don’t believe in God or Jesus. And people who are “religious” should not disrespect or act in such ways to other people,” Joelle Maish wrote.

The post has since gone viral, comments sharing their own stories in solidarity with Heaton. One commenter wrote, “I’m 47 and this kind of nonsense happens all the time to me and my girlfriend. So sorry.”

Heaton remarked that if she had been given the opportunity to respond to the couple, she would have talked just as openly about her spiritual life as her sexual life. However, regardless of one’s religion, no one deserves to be discriminated against. Even if Heaton had not been religious or Christian, this couple never should’ve taken out their views on her.

When asked if she could back in time, would she still get the same tattoo? Heaton responded, “No I would get it bigger.”