Salon owner condemned for telling LGBTQ+ people to go to ‘pet groomer’

A person with brunette hair sits as someone with a hair dye brush, wearing black gloves, wipes dye on the back of their hair.

The owner of a Michigan hair salon has been widely condemned for saying that she wouldn’t serve all LGBTQ+ people, and telling queer and trans folks to go to a “pet groomer” instead.

Studio 8 Hair Lab co-owner Christine Geiger announced on Facebook that the Traverse City salon would no longer serve people who identify “as anything other than a man/woman.”

In the since-deleted post last weekend, Geiger wrote that customers who aren’t cisgender, or identify as trans or queer, should “seek services at a local pet groomer”.

“You are not welcome in this salon. Period,” the Facebook post continued. “This is America – free speech. This small business has the right to refuse services.”

Geiger doubled down on her remarks when her post was shared in the Facebook group ‘Overheard in Traverse City’, commenting to say that she isn’t against those who are gay, bisexual, or lesbian but that she has an issue with what she refers to as the “TQ+” presumably referring to transgender and non-binary, queer, or genderfluid individuals.

She also cited the unfounded conspiracy theory that the ‘+’ in LGBTQ+ refers to paedophiles or ‘minor-attracted persons’ (MAPs) – a term used by paedophiles to justify paedophilia.

You may like to watch

(Facebook/Screenshot by PinkNews)

Right-wing conspiracy theorists have attempted to associate MAPs with the LGBTQ+ acronym for years despite there being no evidence to support this. It has been used as a way to depict queer people as predators.

Following the post, Studio 8 was inundated with wholly negative reviews across various review websites, including Yelp and Google.

Several of the reviews called Geiger “another spewer” of right-wing conspiracy theories and slammed her for believing in the baseless “groomer” narrative which is used to attack the LGBTQ+ community.

Others took the opportunity to explain that the ‘+’ in the LGBTQ+ acronym refers those who are questioning, asexual or queer in a way that isn’t represented in the initial letters.

“Owner is an ignorant bigot spreading anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda,” one reviewer wrote. “Had the audacity to compare LGBTQ+ people with dogs and refuses to allow them in her salon. I can’t imagine being such an uneducated, cruel person.”

Hair product manufacturer Jack Winn Pro was quick to distance the company from from Studio 8.

In an Instagram post, the company wrote that it “strongly believes” in supporting LGBTQ+ people and that Geiger’s “disturbing comments” go against its values.

Jack Winn Pro confirmed that “the stylist who made those comments no longer has authorisation to represent our brand or products”.

Chasten Buttigieg, author and husband of transport secretary Pete Buttigieg, who grew up in Traverse City, told MSNBC that Geiger’s comments were a prime example of how free speech actually works.

“You’re free to have an opinion in this country, but you’re not free to discriminate,” he said. “You are less free in this country if you have to start looking up in a directory where you will receive service and where you won’t.”

According to Insider, Traverse City officials are currently investigating whether Studio 8 has violated anti-discrimination ordinances.

The city’s mayor, Richard Lewis, said that the city was “disheartened” to hear of the comments made in the region.

Despite this, Geiger told the Associated Press that she isn’t backing down from her anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs and doesn’t want what she calls the “woke dollar”.

“I’d rather not be as busy than to have to do services that I don’t agree with,” she said.

Geiger’s remarks follow the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling on 30 June.

Justices ruled that businesses can refuse to serve LGBTQ+ clients after a Colorado-based designer won the right to discriminate against same-sex couples, should any ever ask her to make them a wedding website.