LGBTQ

Airbnb Traveler Says Dallas Host Canceled His Reservation Because He's Gay

A Dallas Airbnb host didn't want to host a same-sex couple and was banned from the app for discrimination.
A Dallas Airbnb host didn't want to host a same-sex couple and was banned from the app for discrimination. Benson Kua
The lodging rental app Airbnb has seen its share of controversies. Sometimes, it's the hosts robbing lodgers blind. A $600 cleaning fee on a $100-a-night shack? Is it a naked cleaning service?

This time a Dallas property owner is earning the ire of Twitter over claims the owner discriminated against a gay man seeking to stay at his property listed on Airbnb.

A user of the Airbnb app posted a screenshot on social media of an alleged interaction he had with an unidentified property owner in Dallas who appears to have canceled his reservation after learning the space would be occupied by a same-sex couple.

Curtis Kimberlin Jr. of Chicago posted the story on his Twitter with a screenshot from the Airbnb message exchange between his boyfriend, identified as "Jonathan," and the owner whose name was redacted.

Jonathan sent a message to the Airbnb renter stating that he and Kimberlin would be in town for a weekend wedding and letting him now their expected arrival time.

"It'll be my first time in Texas and my partner is from Dallas, so he'll be showing me around," the post reads.

The owner wrote back, "So I'll be hosting two men sleeping together ... right?"
A follower on Kimberlin's Twitter page posted a reply suggesting that they cancel the reservation. They also tagged Airbnb's official Twitter account in the post.

"He luckily denied us before we could cancel," Kimberlin replied, "but it still doesn't feel great."

The post became a trending topic on Twitter as replies of support for the couple and derision for the Airbnb owner and even the app itself poured in. As of Thursday afternoon, the post received more than 1.9 million viewers, according to Twitter analytics.

"AirBnB [sic] is an absolute dumpster fire," wrote @KonstantineinCA. "Book a hotel/motel. It's cheaper and they don't discriminate."

"Not to mention you don't have to clean it yourself," wrote @agentcakes in a reply.

The official Twitter page for the Hilton hotel chain posted a reply to Kimberlin's post offering lodging at one of its hotels for their visit to Dallas.

"Curtis – if you and your partner still need help with a stay, we got you!" the post reads. "Please meet us in the DMs!"

Airbnb released a statement in response to the incident saying that the company removed the unidentified host from its listings and will conduct a full investigation into the matter.

"Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has no place on Airbnb, and we take reports of violations of our nondiscrimination policy incredibly seriously," the statement reads. "Over a week ago, we suspended this listing and Host from the platform as we investigate further, and we have reached out to our impacted guests to offer our support.”

The statement also points out guidelines in the app's community that hosts are subject to a "strict nondiscrimination policy" as well as corporate investigations and expulsion if they violate the policy.

"Bias, prejudice, racism, and hatred have no place on our platform or in our community," according to Airbnb's community policy listings.

Kimberlin did not respond to our request for comment.

This is far from the first controversy involving Airbnb in Dallas. In 2015, city officials confirmed that only two of the 700 Airbnb listings in Dallas proper had paid their monthly hotel-occupancy taxes, and the city had not issued any fines for failure to pay them over the previous year.

Around New Year's Eve, neighbors of Airbnb hosts frequently complain about large gatherings turning into raucous house parties. So near the end of 2020, the app put new restrictions in place stipulating that Dallas locations with poor reviews must book guests for a two-night minimum for reservations near the end of the year. This was followed by a ban on "party houses" less than two years later.

The city of Dallas has also considered placing stricter regulations on short-term, Airbnb-style rentals, starting with a recommendation from the City Plan Commission last month to ban short-term rentals in single-family residential neighborhoods. This latest news certainly won't help the city reconsider its plans. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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