A gay couple is considering filing complaints against CTA ( Chicago Transit Authority ) after a bus driver allegedly tried to have them removed from the bus for kissing.
The two men say that the driver yelled homophobic slurs at them and called police after they refused to leave the bus.
However, further investigation has revealed that one of the men has a questionable history with CTA.
Christopher Buchanan, 22, and his boyfriend Derrell Hughes said they boarded a 146 southbound bus in Lakeview on Oct. 22, after leaving an afternoon program at the Broadway Youth Center, Buchanan said.
"I was holding his hand and kissing and whatnot," Buchanan told Windy City Times.
As the bus approached downtown, he said, a middle-aged White woman approached the bus driver to complain about the two.
The driver allegedly got up and told Buchanan and Hughes that someone had complained about them and that they needed to get off his bus.
"He was really in my face," said Buchanan. "He said 'you bitches need to get off the bus … I can't stand fags.'"
When the couple refused to leave, Buchanan said, the driver called police. Buchanan said that police said they had not done anything illegal, they got off the bus after a two-hour ordeal during which a CTA supervisor was called.
Windy City Times broke the story of the alleged incident. Shortly after, a reader alerted the paper to a possible connection between Buchanan and another CTA story that made headlines in February on Chicago News Report online.
That story revealed that Buchanan is facing criminal sexual assault charges over an alleged incident that occurred Feb. 5, 2011 involving a 17-year-old male passenger while Buchanan was working as a CTA security guard.
Buchanan was subcontracted as a CTA guard through Securitas, a private nationwide security company. He was terminated over the charges, which are still pending, according to a Cook County State's Attorney spokesperson.
Buchanan said that he did not initially disclose his history with CTA because he did not think it was relevant to the incident, he said. He declined to comment on the charges.
Both men say they stand by their version of events.
"It actually occurred," said Buchanan of the kissing incident. "I didn't make up anything."
Hughes said he was not aware of Buchanan's history with CTA until after the kissing incident happened.
A CTA statement confirmed that an incident did occur on the bus and that the matter was being investigated.
"Our information indicates that the driver received a passenger complaint about a couple which resulted in a multi-passenger disturbance," the statement said. "In order to restore order on the bus, the driver curbed the vehicle and called a supervisor, as is CTA policy."
Buchanan and Hughes said they felt they were targeted because they were two black men kissing in public. He noted that a straight couple was also kissing on the bus at the time of the incident.
"Where does it state on CTA we can't kiss on the bus?" Buchanan said. "Straight people kiss on the bus all the time."
Jacob Meister of The Civil Rights Agenda is representing the couple. He said he will pursue a resolution with CTA before taking legal action. Meister is seeking a meeting with top CTA officials.
Asked if revelations about Buchanan's history changed his case, Meister responded that, "it's irrelevant, but I understand the potential for credibility."
CTA has faced accusations of sexual orientation discrimination in the past. Last October, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ruled that CTA discriminated against a former employee over his perceived sexual orientation.
A CTA media relations email said that a customer service complaint had been filed regarding the bus incident. However, the agency declined to comment Buchanan's history with the company or the most recent allegations.
"The CTA does not condone any discriminatory actions by its employees and recognizes that public displays of affection are common," the statement read.
Windy City Times will update as more details become available.