Tulsa city officials are apologizing today for homophobic insults directed at a local homeowner.
The words came from a man who was working for the city’s water department as a contractor. The man has been fired.
His insults were caught on the homeowner, Bobby Elder’s, security camera.
“I’ve lived in Broken Arrow, Tulsa almost my whole life. I recently moved to this house about three years ago,” Elder said, “Never had a problem.”
For Bobby Elder, that all changed last Friday when a man working on the water main outside his home came to the door.
“I’m used to them working out there and always been very friendly in passing,” Elder said, “So I was really shocked by what I heard on Friday.”
Elder’s partner answered the door and was told the water would be shut off to fix the main, but it’s what he heard after the door was closed that made him take a look at their surveillance footage.
“Unfortunately, it was what we heard, and also much more,” Elder said.
It’s all caught on Elder’s security cameras.
As the man walks up to Elder’s home he said, “Bunch of dope smokin’ queers.”
The offensive comments continue.
“Get all your group showers done by then,” the man said, “I’m a queer.”
“I thought it was very fortunate to be able to capture this on camera to show what so many people in the LGBTQ community go through,” Elder said.
Elder, who stresses that he’s never had any problems here, was stunned.
“That’s what I think hurt so bad,” Elder said, “Was how playful he was when saying it, how it was just a joke.”
City Hall wasn’t laughing either. Today, they said the worker was a contractor, not one of theirs, releasing this statement:
This person was not a City of Tulsa employee, but an employee of a contractor working on a waterline replacement project for the City’s utility authority. The behavior displayed by this individual was ignorant and reprehensible and does not reflect the City’s values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all of the constituents we serve. The City has talked to the contractor and this individual was removed immediately from all City projects. – Michelle Brooks, City of Tulsa Director of Communications
Elder said he appreciated the city’s response.
“I would never wish for anybody to lose their job, or wish ill will on anybody, no matter what their beliefs no matter if they differ from mine or not, but I do believe that all actions have consequences,” Elder said.
It’s unfortunate the comments had to hit so close to home, Elder said.
“His perception of what takes place in my home is not reality, you know,” Elder said, “The reality is is that this home is full of love.”
Elder said he’s had city workers and city councilors reach out and apologize for the man’s behavior. He said he hopes the contractor also apologizes.
Tulsa City Councilor, Cass Fahler, also commented that Elder let him know of the incident and Fahler reported it to the Mayor’s office and the City Water and Sewer Department.
Fahler said Monday evening he was awaiting their response. Fahler does not represent Elder’s district.