Gay dad accused of having his hand ‘too close’ to his son’s genitals says it could’ve been racism
The gay dad who sued United Airlines after it accused him of having his hand “too close” to his son’s genitals has said the incident could’ve been down to racism.
The airline detained Henry Amador-Batten, 52, for an hour after a flight attendant made the allegation, which he called “dangerous and hurtful”.
Henry and his five-year-old son Ben were flying back from Puerto Rico, where Henry was dealing with his father’s quick decline and death.
The radio host and author told Elle that his son heartbreakingly asked him at the time: “‘Am I in trouble because of this?’
“And I said: ‘Why would you be in trouble, baby?’ And he said, ‘Because I was holding you and sitting too close to you, daddy.’
“No, that’s not the problem,” he responded, adding comfortingly: “You can sit as close to me as you want to for as long as you want to.”
And he told People Chica that he had never faced homophobia before this traumatic incident.
“I’m a 52-year-old man who has never had to fight because I’m gay,” he said.
“I’ve never been accused of anything, never been fired from a job, or lost a home.
“You hear all these stories, but I’d never experienced any of that.”
But Amador-Batten, who is half-Puerto Rican and half-Spanish, has repeatedly faced racism, especially while flying out of Miami in the 80s and 90s.
“I was nearly always targeted by security both in the U.S. and in the countries I was entering,” he said.
“I’m assuming that a well-dressed Hispanic man flying out of Miami was easily suspected of being in the drug business. I missed flights, had luggage basically torn apart.
“I had tubes of toothpaste squeezed out and even hems on my jacket and pants ripped open.”
He was asked whether he thought this type of racism played a part in the airline’s treatment of him in May.
“We can’t know what the flight attendant’s motives, perceptions or intentions were,” he responded.
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“Although both Ben and I are Hispanic, he is lighter than me.
“Did the attendant see an older Hispanic man travelling with a little white boy? I can’t imagine he could have but who knows?”
Henry was interrogated just a month after United dragged a doctor off its flight with blood running down his face.
In the same months, the airline ruined a gay man’s honeymoon after it prevented him from taking his mobility device on board.