No tip for US waitress with LGBT tattoo

Receipt which says 'Can't tip someone who doesn't love Jesus! Bad tattoo,' placed next to a rainbow equal sign tattoo Image copyright Joelle Nicole Maish
Image caption 'Can't tip someone who doesn't love Jesus'

Waiting staff in the US rely heavily on their tips to make up for their low wages, but one server in Rockford, Illinois, was surprised to find the reason for the lack of a gratuity written on a receipt.

"Can't tip someone who doesn't love Jesus! Bad tatoo [sic]" wrote the customer, instead of a tip, for Samantha Heaton, who bears rainbow-coloured equality bars on her arm, and has been serving at Buffalo Wild Wings for a year.

"It was shocking. I couldn't help but feel hurt," Samantha told the BBC. "I would've openly discussed my tattoo with them, had they asked. I talked to them about their food. They kept me constantly busy, but were not openly rude to me. I've never had someone write anything like this."

Her friend Joelle Nicole Maish posted a photo of Samantha's tattoo, along with the receipt on her own Facebook page, writing: "I would just like to say that being gay does not mean you don't believe in God or Jesus. And people who are 'religious' should not disrespect or act in such ways to other people. PS, they spelled tattoo wrong."

Image copyright @emilysotakoun

The photo was picked up by local social media producer Emily Sotakoun, earning 21,000 retweets and 53,000 likes, but when Samantha's story was picked up by local radio station 97zokonline, the comments started to flood in.

Many people have expressed their shock, addressing the customer's remarks.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Some of the printable reaction to the lack of gratuity

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Samantha's girlfriend, Alyssa Christina, also took to Facebook to vent her anger, saying Samantha is "so much more than a tattoo".

Image copyright Alyssa Christina/Facebook
Image caption 'So much more than a tattoo'

"She is the most amazing human I know. I bet she went above and beyond for you just for you to stiff her." Alyssa goes on to ask why the customers didn't ask for another server.

Samantha responded to Alyssa in a comment: "I love you thank you, and you are correct. I absolutely did come home with a smile on my face because no matter how awful people can be I know that you and my family are just perfect. I love you more then words could ever explain!"

Despite the outpouring of love and support, some people have been a little sceptical, and questioned whether posting the photo on social media was financially motivated.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Cynics questioned what happened owing to similarities with a previous story

Joelle has been keen to point out on Twitter that no remuneration was intended, and the posting of the photo was all about spreading awareness.

Samantha told the BBC the biggest thing she has taken from the experience was to "lead with love," and that she had been "granted the greatest opportunity to practice leading with love and sharing love to others."

However, it's not all been about the tattoo. Some have pointed out their unwillingness to tip in the first place.

"I hope I've been able to bring awareness to this issue of bullying and discrimination," summarises Samantha. "We have a long way to go but love and kindness will thrive in the face of adversity."

Compiled by Sherie Ryder, BBC UGC and Social News team.

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