STOCKTON, Calif. - Reuben Lee grew up in the south and is all too familiar with racism, but he says what he and his 17-year-old adopted son dealt with on Sunday was heartbreaking.
"We’re this far along in life and, you know, you’re stuck as a parent trying to figure out how you’re going to explain to this man that I really am this child’s parent,” Lee said.
Lee is a pastor in Stockton and said he and his son Reuben Jr. went to watch the action movie "XXX: Return of Xander Cage" at the Regal theater on West Lane.
"Keep in mind this is a PG-13 movie, these gentlemen are 17 years old,” Lee told KTXL.
Lee said his church’s deacon was also there to watch the kids. Two guardians, six teens total.
"I was the only Caucasian in the group,” he said.
He said the rest of the group was allowed in. However, before he and his son could enjoy their evening a manager stopped them.
"I said this is my son, I’m their guardians (sic), they’re with me... I was not allowed in,” he said.
Lee said the manager didn’t believe that he and his son were related.
"He sort of smirked and said, ‘Well, like I said, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, you need to call one of them and have them come over here if you want to get in.’”
They were denied admission.
Lee said this has frustrated and angered his family. His wife was so upset she wrote about the experience on Facebook, which has been shared hundreds of times.
KTXL looked up their admission policy online and it only outlines who's allowed to watch rated R and NC-17 movies. There are no guidelines about PG-13 movies.
Lee got a refund for the tickets, and their group was escorted off the property by an armed guard. But what he wants from them cannot be bought. He said he wants more than a shift in policy, it’s an apology.
"At some point you want him to realize, ‘Oh. Wow, I was wrong. I’m sorry. You know, I should have let you in,’” he said.
We reached out to Regal Cinemas corporate offices, but they did not get back to us at the time this article was published.