GoFundMe Campaign Raises $100K In Tips For Barista, Now ‘Karen’ Wants Half

L-R Lenin Gutierrez, Amber Lynn Gilles (screen captures)

The GoFundMe campaign for a San Diego-area Starbucks employee who asked a ‘Karen’ to wear a face mask has now surpassed more than $99,000. And the crunchy ‘Karen’ now wants half of the funds raised.

As I reported last week, yoga instructor Amber Lynn Gilles snapped a photo of the barista and posted it on Facebook in an attempt to shame him for following the safety guidelines of his employer and the state of California.

But the snarky post backfired on Gilles and has led to a $100K windfall for the beleaguered barista.

On June 18, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order requiring face coverings in public spaces as new coronavirus cases began to rise dramatically in the Golden State.

But this ‘San Diego Karen’ was clearly not happy about the new public health rule.

“Meet lenen [sic] from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask,” wrote Gilles in the accompanying caption. “Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”

Since last week, the post has been shared more than 50K times and received over 132K comments, overwhelmingly in support of the barista, Lenin.

“Listen, Karen, if you can’t be bothered to wear a f**king mask for 10 minutes out of consideration for *other people* AND because it’s store policy, then you’re not only rude, you’re incredibly selfish,” wrote one commenter. “News flash: everything isn’t about you.”

“There’s no reason to publicly shame a kid who’s trying to work his shift like any other day,” added another.

One person asked, “If you cannot wear a mask, why not go through the drive-through?”

For its part, Starbucks issued a statement asking all customers to follow the current guidelines regarding mask requirements.

“We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores. We respectfully request customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores,” a Starbucks spokesperson said.

Facebook user Matt Cowan saw the snarky post and decided to set up a GoFundMe page to collect tips for the Lenin.

“I set it at $1,000, thinking that was a reach, and we would be lucky if we hit like $250,” Cowan told local news station KGTV in San Diego last week. “And when we hit $100, I was overwhelmed by that,”

In one day, Cowan’s campaign – titled “Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen” – had raised more than $5,000 for Lenin. Over the past week, tips continued to pour in, and as of this writing, the campaign had raised over $99,000 from 7,400+ donors. The majority of the contributions were in the amount of $5 or $10.

Lenin expressed his thanks in a Facebook video and shared his side of the story saying he was just following company policy when he asked Gilles if she had a face mask.

“Before I could say anything she flipped me off and said I don’t need one and she started cursing up a storm,” said Gutierrez on the video. “She started calling people sheep and she left and within a few minutes came back and she asked for my name and took a photo.”

Gutierrez also shared that, before the coronavirus health threat, he had taught dance to children.

“That’s all I really want to do — to just be able to show dance to others and show them how much I love it and how much it affected me,” he said. “And if I can show that to someone else, that would be amazing and change their life like it changed mine.”

In an update to the crowdfunding page, Cowan underscored that Lenin will be receiving 100% of the funds from the campaign. A financial adviser has been arranged to help Lenin “plan how to properly invest and use the large sum of money.”

“Lenin has said that he plans to use some of the money to pursue his dreams of becoming a dancer,” Cowan added. “He also wants to donate to some organizations in the San Diego community.”

In a video shared by local NBC News affiliate KNSD-TV, Gilles claimed she was “denied and discriminated against” in the incident, and says since her post went live she’s received ‘thousands’ of death threats. Gilles also admitted she is an anti-vaxxer and believes masks are ineffective.

“I didn’t harass anyone,” she says in the video. “I called them out because I’m frustrated.”

Gilles also says that she plans on suing Cowan for defamation and slander, AND she wants at least half the money raised through the GoFundMe campaign “because they’re using me to get it.”

(source: KNSD, GoFundMe)

News Round-Up: March 25, 2020

Dan Tai (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Dan Tai (above) asks, “So, you ever just have those days when you’re super productive? It was one of them! How was your day?” How about you, readers? Amid all this self-isolation, do you feel like you’re getting some of those tasks you’ve put off accomplished?

Outsports: Denis Finnegan is a champion. A national champion. And he’s been a national champion 10 times over. That’s some real dominance. Few people in the world, in any sport, can claim that many titles over a decade. Finnegan also happens to be gay.

CBS News: As unemployment claims surge, Starbucks CEO and President Kevin Johnson announced this week his commitment to pay all workers in the U.S. and Canada for the next 30 days, regardless of whether they come into work or the stores they work at temporarily close.

Song of the Day: For some reason, this song by Barbra Streisand, released in 1981, has been “coming in and out” of my mind as we all self-quarantine. Gorgeous vocals and it reminds we’ll all be back in each other’s lives in real person soon. Please take a moment to hit play and chill.

People: In his new book, The Bachelor star Colton Underwood revealed that he questioned his sexuality through his teen years, after relentless bullying from teammates. Underwood says he remembers searching online “Am I gay?” as far back as Elementary School.

BBC: The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus, Clarence House has confirmed. Prince Charles, 71, is displaying mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health.”

Hollywood Reporter: In 2018 and 2019, booking Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was a top priority for producers at Fox News. So much so that one Fox News producer sought to reassure Devos’ press secretary that host Maria Bartiromo would go easy on the Secretary if she sat for an interview, which she did six days later. “Ps remember any question she doesn’t feel comfortable answering — she can choose to not answer and pivot the topic. This will be an easy interview and enjoyable.”

Gaily Grind: President Trump used his daily White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday to rail against the press and Democrats, arguing that the main reason they oppose his idea to potentially reopen businesses by Easter is that they want the economy to fail to hurt his reelection prospects. #srsly Check out the exchange with CBS News journalist Paula Reid below.

A Trans Teen Hears His Name Called At Starbucks

A new ad captures the quiet triumph of a transgender teen hearing his name being called as he picks up his coffee at Starbucks.

The spot, part of the “What’s your name?” campaign for Starbucks, will air in the U.K. and online.

Partnering with the U.K. trans youth organization Mermaids, the coffee giant will also sell limited-edition mermaid cookies to raise up to £100,000 ($130,000) for the group.

The ad follows James as people throughout his day dead name him. On his school ID card, by family members, even at his doctor’s office.

But when he orders his coffee at a Starbucks, he’s asked his name.

“It’s James,” we hear the teen reply.

A moment later, the employee calls out the name “James,” and the brief smile says it all.

From Starbucks UK:

At Starbucks, writing your name on a cup and calling it out is a symbol of our warm welcome. It’s a small gesture, but it’s symbolic of what we believe in: Recognition and acceptance, whoever you are, or want to be. We welcome everyone.

We’re proud to support Mermaids, a charity supporting young transgender and gender diverse people and their families. If you need to speak to someone, you can find their helpline here: http://mermaidsuk.org.uk

Several folks expressed their support for the ad spot on Twitter along with some of their own stories:





News Round-Up: July 6, 2018

InstaHunk Alex Abramov heads up this installment of The Randy Report's News Round-Up
(image via Instagram)

Some news stories you might have missed:

• InstaHunk Alex Abramov says, “The category is: Live. Work. Pose.”

• The New York Yankees are the only Major League Baseball team to not hold a Pride night this year.

• A barista at Starbucks has been fired for mocking a man who stutters. After stuttering on his name during his order, the barista replied, ‘Okay, S-s-s-sam.’ When he received his coffee, his name on the cup was written as ‘SSSAM.’

• Twitter is deleting over a million fake accounts a day – double the rate from last October.

• Scarlett Johansson cast herself in the role of a transgender man in the upcoming film, Rub & Tug, and folks are not happy about it.

• I’ve been meaning to post this really heartwarming viral video of four fathers attending Pride for the first time with their LGBTQ children.

Produced as an ad spot for Dublin Bus, its really beautiful seeing the kids faces upon hearing their dads were heading to Pride with them on a rainbow-colored bus. Watch the short spot below.

Starbucks Expands Transgender Employees’ Healthcare Coverage

(image via Flickr/Yukiko Matsuoka)

Since 2012, employee healthcare plans for coffee company Starbucks has covered gender reassignment surgery for its transgender employees.

But now, the coffee giant has announced expanded coverage for trans employees including breast augmentation, breast reduction, facial feminization and hair transplants.

In exploring new options for trans employees, the coffee purveyor consulted with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Starbucks was the first company in the world to ask WPATH to help translate their recommended standards of care into a medical benefits policy, said Jamison Green, the immediate past president of WPATH, who worked with the company on the benefits package.

“Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” said Green. “We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”

Many of the new procedures now available to Starbucks employees were considered ‘cosmetic’ by most insurance companies and therefore not covered. But for trans people, these are essential to trans people in their journey to be who they are.

Tate Buhrmester, 15 year employee of Starbucks, manages a store in Austin, Texas.

A 2014 report from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute found that 41 percent of the 6,500 transgender adults who responded to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey had attempted suicide at some point, compared to the 4.6 percent of the overall population.

One reason for the high percentage of suicide attempts may be “due to distress related to barriers to obtaining transition-related health care, such as a lack of insurance coverage, inability to afford those procedures, or lack of access to providers,” the report authors wrote.

With suicide rates much higher for transgender people compared to the general population (4.6% versus 41%), having access to these procedures can literally be life-saving.

Plus, trans people can often have trouble finding trans-friendly healthcare providers. To address those barriers, Starbucks has advocates trained to work with trans employees to help them navigate the healthcare systems, find the proper providers and help in making sure claims are covered.

Read more about Starbucks’ announcement here.

News Round-Up: May 13, 2018

(via Instagram)

Some news stories you might have missed:

TRR InstaHunk fave, David Faulón (above), celebrated his birthday in his (almost) birthday suit!

• A mother who is “against people being gay” wrote to Dear Abby saying her 43-year-old daughter just came out as lesbian. Abby knew just how to handle this one…

• A Texas teacher was accused of “promoting a homosexual agenda” when she showed students a picture of herself and her wife dressed up as Disney characters on the first day of school.

• Starbucks has now adopted an open-bathroom policy following an incident in Philadelphia last month were two black men were arrested while waiting for a business colleague.

• An Oregon school allegedly forced an LGBT student to read the Bible as punishment…?

GLEE star Kevin McHale says of his recent coming out: “I think there was zero surprise. People knew.”

• The Trump administration continues its attack on the trans community by rolling back prison protections.

• And how about one more from the woofy Mr. Faulón:

(via Instagram)

Starbucks To Close 8,000 Stores For “Racial-Bias Education”

The CEO of Starbucks announced today that all 8,000 stores in the company will close on May 29 to conduct “racial-bias education” seminars for its employees.

Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) today announced it will be closing its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores. The training will be provided to nearly 175,000 partners (employees) across the country, and will become part of the onboarding process for new partners.

“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” said Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

This comes after two black men were arrested in Philadelphia just days ago for waiting for a friend in a Starbucks before ordering their drinks.

Just yesterday, I reported on another incident where a black man was refused the digital code to access the men’s room but a white man was allowed to use those same facilities. Neither man had made a purchase yet.

In the clip below from MSNBC, I think Jason Johnson has a point in wondering how an afternoon of Human Resources training will combat lifetimes of employees’ own beliefs and reactions about race relations.

As Johnson says, just about everyone knows the commonsense way to treat people fairly. Whether they do it or not is primarily a choice they make.

More @Starbucks Issues: Bathroom Inequality In Action

(Image via screen cap)

More racial issues for Starbucks today as another black Starbucks customer was denied use of a bathroom before he made his purchase.

Brandon Ward requested to use the bathroom before he made his purchase today at the Starbucks located in Los Angeles at the corner of Artesia and Hawthorne, but was denied the code.

But soon after that exchange, a white male – who had not made a purchase yet – was given the bathroom code.

Another one of those things that make you go, “Hmm…”

From Shaun King:

Meet Brandon Ward. He was Starbucks – about to make a purchase – and needed to use the restroom.

They denied him the code.

He then finds a white man, Weston, who came out of the restroom.

He had not made a purchase but they gave HIM the code.


The store manager at the counter didn’t like her picking and choosing of bathroom attendees made public. And I have to point out the store manager’s woeful lack of skill in handling the situation.

What would have been wrong with apologizing instead of escalating the situation? Is that what Starbucks teaches store managers to do?

I don’t want to blame Starbucks as an entire corporation but for this to occur today after the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks that received terrible national attention, it’s hard to believe some company-wide email didn’t go out immediately about handling such incidents.

Why are black men being singled out to be ejected from Starbucks restaurants while, as this video shows, white men are allowed use of the premises without a purchase?

Watch below.

Starbucks Apologizes After Two Black Men Arrested/Released With No Charges Filed

Six police officers arrest two men at a Philadelphia Starbucks
for asking to use the restroom

The arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks has gained national attention as cellphone video footage has gone viral showing six officers handcuffing the men whose only crime seems to have been asking to use the bathroom while waiting for a friend.

According to reports a white female manager called the police.

A chagrined Starbucks CEO has now issued an apology to the men saying company training “led to a bad outcome.”

From the Washington Post:

In a statement to Starbucks customers and employees Saturday, CEO Kevin Johnson acknowledged “a disheartening situation in one of our Philadelphia-area stores this past Thursday, that led to a reprehensible outcome.”

Cellphone videos captured the tense moment Thursday afternoon when at least six Philadelphia Police Department officers stood over two seated black men, asking them to leave. A man named Andrew Yaffe arrives to tell police that the two men were waiting for him. The officer says that they were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing.

Lauren Wimmer, the attorney for the two men, told The Washington Post that her clients told a Starbucks employee that they were waiting for Yaffe. Shortly after, a white female employee called the police, Wimmer said.

The two men, whom she declined to identify, were taken to a police station, fingerprinted and photographed. One officer suggested that they faced charges for “defiant trespassing,” Wimmer said. They were held for nearly nine hours before they were released, she said, after prosecutors said they would not pursue charges.

Benjamin Waxman, a spokesman for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, said the office decided that there “wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge [the men] with a crime.”

In his statement, Johnson said the video was hard to watch and that he hopes to meet the two men to offer “a face-to-face” apology, adding that the company’s practices and training “led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.”

“Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did,” Johnson said.

An official at Starbucks told the WaPo that there is no official company-wide policy on asking member of the public to leave. Apparently store managers are left to make such decisions.

Why this store manager decided to let this incident escalate to such a degree is not clear.

The official went on to say the handling of this matter was not how most store managers would have handled the situation.

As a white male, I’ve spent hours and hours in Starbucks all over the world. I’ve never been asked to leave.

From Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks:

First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right. Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.

In the coming days, I will be joining our regional vice president, Camille Hymes—who is on the ground in Philadelphia—to speak with partners, customers and community leaders as well as law enforcement. Most importantly, I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.

We have immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices. In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices. The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values.

Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement which read, in part:

“I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018. For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done. Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin.