A shop owner in Venice is under fire for allegedly kicking a gay man out of his shop. | Photo: Flickr/Neticola Sny
More gay couples have shared their homophobic experiences about a shop in Venice after a viral Facebook post.
On 5 September Tito Palaia, 24, visited a well known Ventian fine art store called, Studio d’Arte Vio. When there he asked the shop owner if all the products were made in Venice.
The owner replied: ‘What do you think? We avoid silly, useless questions like that.’
Put off by the man’s response, Palaia decided to leave the shop. But as he turned to leave the man allegedly started shouting, ‘long live pussy’.
‘Do you understand?’ he asked Palaia.
The 24-year-old asked the shop owner if there was a problem.
‘I don’t want queer clients in my shop,’ he allegedly said.
Palaia went to police the following morning to report the man. He also posted about the incident on Facebook and it quickly went viral.
Thousands of people inundated the shop’s Facebook with comments that it had to shut its page down.
‘Episodes like this should never happen, NEVER. Not in 2018,’ Palaia wrote on Facebook.
Not the first homophobic incident
Palaia’s experience is not unique according to artist, Mauro Saccardo.
Saccardo noticed many people commented on Palaia’s post sharing their homophobic experiences in the shop.
One Facebook user said the shop owner showed him a painting of the Kama Sutra, even though that’s not what he asked to see.
‘This is because you are a queer and I don’t want you in my shop and you have to leave now,’ the shop owner allegedly told the man.
Saccardo grew up near the shop and said the alleged anti-gay man is the oldest son of the family who opened the store.
In 2015, Saccardo and his husband Simon Newbery visited the store and had a similar experience.
‘We went into the shop having seen something we liked in the window which we wanted to buy for the house,’ Saccardo said.
They waited for the shop owner to finish serving another couple and then asked if they could buy the item.
‘No no, the shop is now closed,’ the owner told them.
Perplexed at his response, the couple asked when it would reopen so they could buy the item.
‘No you don’t understand – for you – this shop will always be closed,’ he said.
Saccardo told Gay Star News the man’s comments left him shocked and he ‘felt rejected and felt like vomiting’.
As they left the store the owner followed to the door saying, ‘fuck off to some pussy’.
‘I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. I felt rejected by the city where I was born and by the people that I grew up amongst,’ Saccardo said.
Discrimination is never OK
The couple tried to figure out what action they could take against the store, including going to the police. But they were flying back to London the next morning.
The experiences still haunts them.
‘By reading Tito’s post, and the solidarity that was generated by his post, we felt compelled to assist and tell our story as well,’ Saccardo said.
‘We decided to contact Tito (Palaia) and offer our help, even offering to fly to Venice to speak to him personally and to retrospectively file a report with the police if necessary.’
Palaia and Saccardo want to get their stories out beyond local media to alert tourists about the business.
‘We need to do what we can to correct these injustices and to make these people understand the damage and hurt they inflict without any due cause,’ Saccardo said.
‘We recognize that this is a family business and our motive is not malicious, but it is to protect our rights as gay people and to be treated fairly and we see no reason why this should be any concern of any family member in the shop during a simple sales transaction for a terracotta sculpture.
‘Discrimination is important and can have consequences and this is perhaps something that they will reflect on.’
Italy recognizes same-sex civil unions and anti-discrimination laws for employees. But it does not have general anti-discrimination laws.
Gay Star News has reached out to the shop for comment.