The gay man who overheard a bartender use the word "faggot" at Mayslack's Friday night had been to the northeast Minneapolis dive bar plenty of times before.
He'd picked it that night, recommending a few friends meet him there. He lives nearby, and likes the casual atmosphere and good prices at Mayslack's.
"It's kind of still a working man's bar," says the man, who asked that City Pages not reveal his identity.
He'd never felt discriminated against there for being gay. In fact, prior to Friday's incident, he'd watched as someone interrupted another patron's conversation when he heard them say the word "faggy." Instantly, the person who'd said it was told that this word is "not cool."
That's why he's so disappointed about what happened Friday night, when a bartender referred to another person as a "faggot" for sitting with his legs crossed; then, when asked what she'd said, and why, she allegedly called the gay man's friend "retarded," and told their four-person party to leave the bar.
The gay customer she was bouncing has seen things like this happen before. He's lived them. He's a bartender.
"I think she did a horrible job of fielding that," he says. "I've heard from some people after the fact, people who know her, who've said, 'Oh, she's an ally [to gay people].' What it comes down to, to me, is she was being defensive, and she thought she was bulletproof."
Whether she is or not remains unclear: Bar owner Dean Jacklitch told City Pages he couldn't comment, legally, on the woman's current employment status, and reiterated Mayslack's is dealing with the situation "internally."
Jacklitch said all of his employees already go through training to prepare them for treating customers from all walks of life with sensitivity, but he's adding to those requirements in the wake of Friday's blow-up. He says current staff have welcomed the idea of a new, more rigorous sensitivity training.
"I want to make sure people know we're more than welcoming to everybody that wants to come in," says Jacklitch, who also owns Legends, another bar in Minneapolis. "We're a business in a melting pot of a city. I hope to God nobody feels discriminated against. The second I heard it happened, I thought, 'This is ridiculous.'"
Jacklitch says he also started reaching out personally to gay and lesbian people in his life -- calling an aunt, spending Monday night with gay couples he and his wife are close to -- attempting to reassure them he wasn't running a discriminatory business.
"I wanted to tell them, this isn't me, what happened," Jacklitch says. "They know my feelings, they know my involvement with the gay, lesbian, and transgender community, having parties here, and fundraisers. It's sickening this happened, and we're doing all we can to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The customer who was kicked out Friday night says the swift, severe backlash against the bar has grown beyond his control, with many people -- friends and total strangers -- using social media to blast Mayslack's.
He thinks the initial situation probably didn't stem from blind hatred on the behalf of his server, but an unwillingness to recognize hurtful speech, "backpedal," and apologize. It's something the service industry trains into you, or is supposed to, anyway.
"I've been working in restaurants about 20 years," he says. "If you make a misstep with language, your first job is to identify that, and to help the person who was offended. You have to help them understand your actual position. And not tell them to 'shut up.'"
At around 40, and with a lot of experiences in his past, he says he's "steeled" to uses of slurs and jokes about gay stereotypes. And he's the kind of person who will call someone out for it. A younger generation of LGBTQ people probably haven't grown up hearing those words, and might not feel as comfortable picking a fight.
"This is a thing we’re dealing with not as a neighborhood, but as a country," he says. "If hearing that's making them feel bad about themselves, that's not good. I can't say this hasn't made me question myself, even for me, personally. This has been difficult."
Jacklitch, for his part, says a few loyal gay customers have gone out of their way to stop into the bar since this incident to tell him they support him, and will still spend their money there. He says he hopes eventually, one of those is the man who was driven out that night, though he knows it might take some time to get him back.
"This is sad," Jacklitch says. "It's sad that it happened, and I do not condone it. The sentiment with all of us here is, this isn't our model."