FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — The CEO of a Tennessee telemedicine company has been fired after being captured on video making disparaging remarks to a male high school student in a prom dress.
James Dalton Stevens told news outlets he wanted to make a statement with the dress but didn’t expect the kind of attention he got from the man who was later identified as Sam Johnson, CEO of VisuWell.
“I definitely know that a man in a dress is going to get a lot of attention and that it’s going to be a focal point,” said Stevens, who was taking photos Saturday at a hotel in Franklin with his boyfriend when Johnson approached.
“Saying you look disgusting, you look ridiculous, you shouldn’t be wearing that, men should be wearing suits not dresses,” Stevens said about the comments Johnson made.
“I genuinely did not think that somebody in 2021 would come up to a person and say that,” he said.
VisuWell tweeted Monday that the termination was effective immediately and said the company unequivocally condemns Johnson’s behavior in the video.
“VisuWell’s culture emphasizes respect, kindness, and compassion, especially for those from traditionally marginalized communities, and we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for intolerance of any kind,” the statement said. “Mr. Johnson’s actions contradicted the high standards we set for ourselves in promoting the health of those who use our platform.”
Stevens’ boyfriend, Jacob Geittman, said it was wrong of Johnson to approach them.
“You can have your thoughts and opinions, (but) keep them to yourself,” Geittman said. “You don’t need to go up to a teenager, in public, on their prom night, and publicly shame and harass them for what they decided to wear.”