Last week, a man was refused business from a privately owned photography company, Urloved, in Northern California. The man, who has remained anonymous in the media, informed Urloved that he and his partner were two gay men and were very excited for the company to photograph the special day. Urloved, which is owned and operated by a married, heterosexual couple, declined to participate in the wedding, citing that, “photographing a gay wedding is not the best match for us,’ and further offered to refer them to someone else.
When the man took to Facebook with his disappointment in Urloved’s position, the company received a barrage of backlash, including angry emails and phone calls, causing them to shut down their business. Here is the public apology released by Urloved:
“We have friends in the LGBTQQ community and we have spoken with them about our situation and want to apologize for the use of certain words.
In our efforts to understand how this may have made [named redacted] feel, we thank them for having a conversation with us and for sharing their feelings.
One of the reasons we got into the wedding photography business is to share in the joy and love on what is one of the most important days of peoples’ lives. Our business vision was to couple an art we love with the beauty of marriage.
As wedding photographers, we directly take part in capturing a couple’s love and commitment for each other. We take the medical doctor stance of if we were emergency room doctors we would want to give our best to anybody that comes through our door. It is not photographing a couple who have different personal beliefs that we have difficulty with. We genuinely felt referring this couple to a photographer who does share their personal beliefs would provide them with the best service for their special day. We wanted to connect them with someone who did share their personal beliefs so that they could give them the service quality they deserve.
Unfortunately, our artistic passion for excellence and personal beliefs were misinterpreted. That was never our intent. We have been flooded with hate calls, emails and accusations that inaccurately depict our business. On top of that we have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business. We are grateful for this experience as it has caused us to think about how our personal beliefs intersect with our business practices.
We would like to thank everyone for their love and support and want to apologize to our clients whose photos have been impacted by the recent activities.”
On the surface, this apology appears well intentioned and well written. However, this public statement fails to acknowledge any accountability that belongs to Urloved and does not adequately address the damage they have done.
First, their appeal to the LGBTQQ community falls flat. Reminding others that you have friends in the gay/queer community as a mark of credibility for your position is just as bad as justifying your right to make a racist remark with, “it’s okay, some of my best friends are black.” Basically, you are making a wide generalization based on a small sample of people who know you on a personal level and pinning it to anyone that fits into the same demographic.
In essence, a small sample is speaking for everyone. This is not accurate and it is not effective.
Second, Urloved spends more time talking about themselves than they do about those they have wronged. This statement of apology completely misses the point, as Urloved does not own up to anything with this sweet little story about why they’re in the business and their passion of “capturing a couple’s love and commitment to one another.” It reads as more of a sales pitch than it does as an apology. Mentioning the negative phone calls and accusations begs pity from the public and puts the victim spotlight on Urloved instead of the couple, who were clear victims of discrimination on grounds of homophobia.
And third, Urloved does not actually apologize for their actions. Instead, they apologize for their choice of semantics and regret that their “artistic passion for excellence and personal beliefs were misinterpreted.” This is not an example of taking responsibility for your actions, and instead puts the onus on the victims of discrimination to “not be offended.” Asking someone to reevaluate their reaction to being refused service on the grounds of their sexual orientation is a tone-deaf move because you are absolving yourself of blame that belongs to you and are further hurting the party who has already been hurt.
Urloved continues to avoid taking responsibility for their actions by shutting down the business entirely. Had they truly been sorry, they would have done some homework and attempted to expand their business to be more intersectional, not running away from the mess they made.
“I don’t care that I hurt someone’s feelings, I don’t want to deal with it.”
If they ever hope to go back in business, hopefully they modify that action plan in case this happens to them in the future.