A visit to one of Seattle's most exciting tourist attractions allegedly turned into a nightmare for a local gay couple -- but owners are refuting their claims.
As The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports, Jason Jacobs has called on friends to boycott the city's new Great Wheel, saying that he and his date were asked to disembark after holding hands and sharing a kiss while on the ride.
"You should know if you are gay you run the risk of being bullied, harassed, and denied to ride the Seattle Great Wheel," Jacobs wrote in a Facebook post. "Last night after paying $50 per person to ride on the VIP car, and waiting for over an hour, my date and I were asked, more like escorted, off the ride."
He continued, "They demanded the T-shirts you get when paying to ride in the VIP car, refunded the tickets, then walked us off the property. This happened only after my date and i held hands getting on the ride, sat down in the car and shared a little kiss."
Still, the owners of the 17-story Ferris wheel -- which was billed as the tallest to go into year-round operation in the U.S. when it opened to visitors in June -- denied Jacobs' claims on the ride's official Facebook page:
"The two individuals were asked to leave because of their behavior, which included putting their shoes on the leather seats and acting disrespectfully and unruly to our staff. Their behavior delayed the operation of the wheel for several minutes, disrupting the ride for our other passengers. We politely asked them to leave after they refused to cooperate, and they were given a full refund. Our staff was unaware of their sexual orientation and that played no role in their being asked to leave."
Kyle Griffith, one of the ride's owners, reiterated that stance to the Intelligencer, calling Jacobs' allegations "hurtful."
"The bottom line is we're a Seattle family-owned company that's been here a lot of years, and we employ and serve people from the gay community," Griffith is quoted as saying. "We have members on staff who are gay themselves, and we look forward to having gay people come down to ride the wheel...we're very sorry that happened to him, but we were just reacting to his and his friend's behavior, and it had nothing to do with their sexual orientation whatsoever."
Though Jacobs acknowledged putting his feet on the seat, he is nonetheless standing by his claims. "When they were starting to be rude, it was an issue, and I was in shock, and I felt belittled," he told KiroTV. "And I thought 'This is not happening in Seattle, is it?'"