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Vancouver drag performer cries foul, alleging discriminatory Yellow Cab experience

Warning: This story contains graphic language

Performing in character is where Berlin Stiller, a well-known Vancouver drag artist, is in their element.

Stiller has waged a lifelong battle against homophobia and discrimination, which is why they say their experience with a local taxi company over the weekend was not only discriminatory, but ironic.

“It brings back feelings,” Stiller said. “I lost my family because of my homosexuality — it tore us apart. I’ve been kicked out of my house because of it. I was homeless for almost a year because of it.”

Stiller said the incident occurred in Vancouver in the early hours of Sunday morning, when they were leaving a show at East 6th Ave. and Manitoba Street, and attempted to hail a cab while dressed in character.

Stiller said a Yellow Cab driver not only refused to pick them up—but also hurled a derogatory and homophobic slur at Stiller and a friend while driving off.

“My friend went to go flag him down on the street, and he swerved around him and screamed, ‘F-ing…[f-ggot],’” Stiller said. “I was like, ‘Did I hear that right?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah. That was the cab driver.’”

Stiller and a friend filed a complaint with Yellow Cab. The company says it is now investigating the case and working to identify the driver in question. It’s a task that may be difficult—since Stiller said the man behind the wheel drove off before they could record a licence plate or vehicle number.

In a statement to Global News, Yellow Cab spokesperson Carolyn Bauer said the company responded to Stiller within two hours of receiving their complaint. Bauer says she is currently out of town at a conference, alongside other Yellow Cab managers, and she plans to follow up with Stiller on Tuesday, when she returns to town.

It’s the second time in a month the company has found itself at the centre of controversy over the alleged actions of its drivers. Yellow Cab spoke in defence of its drivers after footage surfaced recorded at the height of a dispute over a driver’s choice en route. A female passenger called the incident, in which several other drivers arrived in support of one of their colleagues, “intimidating.” The company insisted it was company protocol.

“Us drag queens, we require these cabs to take us from Point A to Point B safely,” said Stiller, who added they’d like to see the unidentified man behind the wheel in this case lose his driving privileges.

“More than just a suspension,” Stiller said.

“If you walked into a Starbucks and somebody called me that right there, they’re going to get fired. I don’t care what your morals are, or your values. When you’re employed by a company, it’s your responsibility to take on the values of the company. If you can’t do that, then why should you be working there?”

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