I think a good reply might have been, “Oh really? Do you think it would make me look look more gay if I got a size smaller than this one? I should get the smaller one then. I need to look more gay because you obviously failed to consider the possibility that I might just be a great big flaming queer.” In fact, I probably would have said that even though I’m not gay just because I like to make people like that feel stupid.
You may be a kinder soul than I.
But either way, you definitely should have gone to the manager and explained the situation. You didn’t have to make a scene, but you should have told him or her. Then, you should also email customer service, including information about how the manager responded.
I used to be in retail management, and this is the kind of thing that I REALLY wanted to know about.
I would have handled it thusly: I would have apologized to you profusely, thanked you for bringing it to my attention, and assured you that the employee would be dealt with appropriately. I also would have acknowledged that you probably didn’t want to buy the coat any more, but still offered you the steepest discount that I could possibly justify on it.
Then I would have sent that employee home immediately and consulted my boss to make sure that everything was being done by the book before unceremoniously firing his ass. Then I would have explained the situation to the rest of the staff to make sure they understood what had happened and (just in case they were morons) why it was so bad.
What I would absolutely not have done is what elbows suggested and make the employee apologize directly to you. If you had demanded that, I would have refused. I would not have allowed any more interaction between the employee and you. That would have far too much potential to escalate, especially since the very fact that you were demanding it would show me that you ARE interested in making a scene.
Absolutely not. The comment was totally inappropriate in a retail context.
If a gay friend of the gay employee had been shopping, and the guy said that to him in jest and they both thought it was funny, it would still have been a bad thing to say. If I overheard it or found out about it, I wouldn’t have fired the gay employee, but I would have read him the riot act. That comment could easily be overheard and misunderstood by other customers. It’s just not okay on the retail floor.