A Chief Executive Officer from Tennessee who lost his job after commenting on a male cross-dressing teen says the video that had viralled on it was mostly edited.
The Washington Times reported that VisuWell CEO Sam Johnson was terminated after asserting that Franklin High School senior Dalton Stevens looked like an "idi*t" in a dress he wore prior to prom. A video on Johnson's interactions with Stevens while at the Harpeth Hotel went viral.
Johnson contested that the video was edited and doesn't actually "capture the impetus for his approaching the teens," as per the Washington Times.
Johnson clarified in his interview with Newsweek that what he said didn't actually have anything to do with Stevens' dress but rather his behavior at that time that was "obnoxious" and "loud." He said the allegations against him were "entirely false."
He said that he approached the teenagers to "tone down the vulgarities around the families and children who were present" but they "edited" the exchange in the video to make it look that he was harassing them.
"We had just sat down for dinner at this restaurant that we frequent, and I was returning from the restroom when I was presented with their loud cursing. Making it about the dress was their idea and they edited out most of the exchange," Johnson said in his interview.
"I have no ill will towards anyone or their personal choices, so long as it does not harm me or my family," he stressed.
Heavy reported that Steven's boyfriend, Jacob Geittman, uploaded the video of the incident in Tiktok and Twitter. The video showed Johnson coming up to them asking what was Stevens wearing and that he shouldn't be wearing it. It went on to show that Johnson was throwing insults at them.
Geitmann said in his interview with Heavy that Johnson told them Stevens looked "disgusting, you look ridiculous, you like an idiot. Men shouldn't be wearing this" and other "homophobic banter."
As per Heavy, there are five main things that people need to know about Johnson and the viral video.
First, the video shows Johnson following Stevens while "laughing and swinging his arm at Geitman's cellphone camera." Second, Johnson was told by "moms" in the area to "calm down" before he was kicked out as narrated by Geittman.
Third, as per Heavy, Johnson has been working with ValuWell since 2017 after working with other companies that specialized in healthcare. Fourth, Johnson deleted his Twitter account after the controversy began. Fifth, Johnson was fired after VisuWell "faced calls on social media" to do so.
VisuWell released a statement saying they supported the LGBTQ community before Johnson was terminated.
"We share the concerns that so many have expressed on this matter and look forward to announcing concrete steps we are taking in support of the LGBTQ community in particular over the coming weeks," Visuwell announced in their statement.
In the statement, VisuWell "unequivocally" condemned Johnson's behavior seen in the video that viraled in socil media. The company revealed that they investigated the matter and spoke to the parties involved in the video. Their investigation brought them to arrive at the decision to terminate Johnson "effective immediately."
VisuWell emphasized that their culture was on "respect, kindness, and compassion, especially for those traditionally marginalized communities." The company also stressed that they "maintain zero tolerance" for any behavior contrary to their culture, which Johnson showed in the video.
VisuWell tweeted on Tuesday clarifications on the termination of Johnson and confirmed that he was "no longer employed by VisuWell in any capacity," that he was no longer part of their Board of Directors, since "his behavior was not representative" of their values, particularly "respect and compassion for all."