Chad Miller is a waiter at a restaurant in northern Indiana who was born and raised in the Kalamazoo area. He is also gay, and in the over two decades he has been open about it, he says he has fortunately never had much aggression toward him until recently.

On Sunday, Chad was waiting on a table with two younger adults, one female and one male. Other than being not particularly conversational, everything seemed ordinary. They ordered, ate, asked for their bill and then left the restaurant. That's when Chad says he found something disturbing on the bill. The couple had left no tip. In fact, all they did leave was a hateful message.

**WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE BELOW**

(Courtesy Chad Miller)

Chad says he spent the rest of his shift trying to stay focused on his job and passing it off as just an ignorant, bigoted incident. But he says the impact of the note eventually hit him harder than he knew it would.

Regardless of their beliefs, I try my hardest to not take those things personal. It is personal though. I treated those guests as valued customers, regardless of their nationality, religion, gender, skin color or sexual preference or orientation. No matter who sits in my section, you get the same amount of service as I can provide as any other person(s) who may be seated in my section. This happened because I am gay, and I have been very fortunate to have not had much aggression toward me in the 23 years I have been out. It is painful on a personal level, but even more in a society that seems to be traveling backward with tolerance and acceptance in mine and many other walks of life. - Chad

In response to this incident, many have offered to make donations or to set up some kind of crowdfunding for him. He instead wants any such efforts to be directed to Project Semicolon, a mental health community focused on suicide prevention.

There have seen similar incidents reported in the news around the country over the years and it is likely some who have experienced something like this have decided not to go public with it. These extreme examples of hate are pretty rare still and are almost unanimously rejected, thankfully. But even one hateful message is one too many.

In the increasingly heated, divisive social climate we are living in now, being mean in general is becoming all too much the norm and civilized discussion seems to be moving further from our collective minds as we dig in deep on whatever side of any issue we happen to be on. Let's hope that these extreme cases don't also move more toward the norm. We can work harder to embrace our differences, as difficult as it may be, so we can grow together in humanity. We are all navigating life as a species and the only way through it is with each other, not against each other, especially in our local communities. In fact, we need each other to thrive. Together we stand, divided we fall.