“Maybe six seconds into it,” Veasley summarized for the outlet, “I get this little tap, ‘excuse me’ and I look up and this lady’s head is right there. She’s like, ‘I have kids in the pool.’ I’ve been in education for the past 13 years so the initial reaction was ‘Oh, yeah’ … And then it kind of came to me what she was asking me to do.”
How did Veasley respond? She told CBS 13 that at the moment, Veasley told the woman who made the request that she understood and joked that she herself saw a lesbian couple kissing when she was 3 or 4 years old. “You know, here I am now,” she said, though she said the woman didn’t seem happy about that response and seemed to scoff at it.
In total, Veasley says two women from a group of people came and approached Veasley and her partner, but according to Veasley, the didn’t approach any other couples in the area. After the second approach, Veasley says she “kind of called her out” in terms of the homophobia and racism she was experiencing. Veasley also noted she felt race had to do with the dynamic, as she said the woman directed her criticism toward Veasley, but not Veasley’s partner, who is white.
“I kind of called her out on her homophobia,” Veasley recalled. “And her friend was there with her and I just asked her, ‘Are you onboard? Are you onboard with this homophobia with this hint of racism that I feel like I’m picking up?’”
Luckily, Veasley seems to have experienced some degree of support from others at the bar and pool. For example, Georgy Avakov, who said he witnessed the incident and was part of the group that actually filmed the video of the event (which has since gone viral), told CBS 13 the “white women specifically targeted Ms. Veas (Domonique) and her friend, despite at least a dozen straighter, non-black couples and parents also in the pool and at the bar at the time, who were being just as affectionate.” He added that both security and bystanders asked the group to apologize to Dominique, but says they refused to do so.
“I was next to those women and there was nothing happening that was inappropriate and not child-friendly,” Art Kaligos, a bystander during the incident and the person who posted the now-viral video to Instagram, told local outlet KRON 4. He told the outlet he started a “shame” chant toward the group when they eventually left the pool.
In an email to SFGate, Kaligos described the group as “white mothers.” About the incident, he told the outlet: “We were relaxing in the pool as it was super hot and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves until a group of white mothers asked a young queer woman of color to stop kissing her female friend in front of their children.”
As of Thursday, an attorney representing the women in the video released a statement saying in part that the incident had “nothing to do with homophobia, racism or even kissing.” The statement alleges the incident involved “what appeared to be sexual intercourse” and “inappropriate activity” close to children.
“Young children should not be forced to witness explicit sexual activity in a hotel swimming pool in the middle of a summer afternoon irrespective of gender or sexual identity,” the statement continues. “When members of the party politely and respectfully asked that some of the sexual activity be toned down because children were close by in the pool, they were met with aggressive verbal attacks.” The statement also asserts that the families in question chose to leave and were not kicked out of the hotel. The statement says their families have been receiving threats.
Veasley, on the other hand, maintains the pair were kissing. “It’s unfortunate that they’ve had to stoop to lies,” she told ABC 10. “This all could have been a teachable moment.”
On Thursday, the general manager for The Sawyer, Nikki Carlson, released a statement saying, “The Sawyer does not condone discrimination or verbal assault of any kind. An unfortunate disagreement between guests occurred at our pool over the holiday weekend and the matter has since been resolved.”
The video of the “shame” chanting after the incident has gone viral on Twitter as well, which you can view here. To be clear, as of the time of writing, there are no videos available of the initial inciting incident.
You can watch a brief interview with Veasley below.