Category Archives: Protest

When Our Quest For Gay Rights Goes Too Far!

Has our LGBT Rights Movement, “Jumped The Shark?”  I am old enough to remember the days of ACT UP and other LGBT organizations that were just fed up with government and people simply ignoring our Community, or actively working against it.  The idea was just to be so loud and in your face, that the public would have to at least notice and acknowledge our existence, and it was a strong tool in rallying, but also brought a lot of ammunition to those working against us.  The “Indiana Pizza Incident,” is an example of right thinking gone wrong.

If you aren’t familiar, as the Indiana legislature and Governor Mike Pence put through their Religious Freedom Bill, our LGBT Community and one of the biggest outpouring of Allies that I can remember, immediately called the Bill what it is, a bigoted response to the current same-sex marriage wave, allowing individually owned businesses to discriminate against us gays.  A small town Indiana pizza shop co-owner, along with her co-owner father, was interviewed by a local television station and said they were in support of the Bill.  They said that although they have no problem serving our Community in their restaurant, they would be unwilling to cater a same-sex wedding under the new law, as it goes against their Christian beliefs.  Adding more naive insult to the injury, they made it clear they thought that being gay was a choice, just as they thought being a heterosexual is.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, most gays are not going to cater their wedding with pizza and beer.  (Not saying that’s a bad idea when you’ve lived together as any couple for quite a few years, and just want to have a party with your friends to celebrate gettin’ hitched, lol).  Also obvious to us, is that being LGBT is not a choice, just how we were born.  However, we had a good chance to use this as an example of what the Bill is really about.  A way to showcase that you wouldn’t ask if a couple was divorced, have a child out of wedlock, or any other of the sins of the Bible that Christians routinely don’t care as much about.  It is discrimination, pure and simple, but instead of illuminating it for what it is, we blew it.  Big Time!!

Backlash against the store owners started immediately.  Their YELP customer comments were deluged with many bad reviews, but it didn’t stop there.  Some of the Internet comments started to get just plain nasty.  There were threats to burn their business down, and even more brutal threats.  Their phone was blowing up off the hook with nasty comments.  Our LGBT Community and allies went from taking the high road and using these store owners as an example of how bad the Bill is, to instead, bringing national attention to how low we will go if you don’t support us.

The owners decided to close the pizza shop after all of the attention.  Is that really the victory we wanted?Did we want some naive at best, ignorant at worse, small town business owners to lose their lively hood for not catering pizza at our weddings?  Soon, religious Conservatives rallied to the pizza owners defense.  They began a GoFundMe Internet fundraising campaign to help the owners out as their doors are closed.  At last glance, and in less that two days, the owners are now sitting on a treasure chest of over $500,000 dollars that has been donated to them, and they plan on re-opening the shop in a few days.

Our LGBT Community and allies, by taking the low road of intimidation and threats, have made this stand against our rights, an example and rallying point for those trying to pass similar Religious Freedom Bills across the country.  Worse yet, the pizza shop owners are calling all of this money a certain blessing from God, for standing for their religious beliefs, and are creating a case for all Christians of the same belief to think that if they dig their heels in and spout ignorance, they will be rewarded as well.  I don’t think that is the outcome we were hoping for in making them a bad example.  They have turned it around completely.

I think this battle in Indiana and following in Arkansas and others, was starting to tip the war in our favor as an LGBT Community.  We have business leaders, allies, and individuals who stood up and noticed that this so-called Religious Freedom Bill, was just a smokescreen to promote bigotry and discrimination.  But as we charged forth, we lost another battle and might have taken us a step backward in the fray.

We should never remain silent in our call to demanding full equality for our Community.  We should never let anyone try to relegate us as second class.  However, in order to win the war, we must keep these battles at least civil.  Personal threats and physical force will make us as bad as those we are fighting against, and not do us any favors in the meantime.  Be Vocal, but offer the same respect we are trying to achieve.

Are Boycotts as Out of Style as Dolce & Gabbana

So I am coming a few days late to the party of commenting on the Dolce & Gabbana boycott, called out to we gays and our supporters by Sir Elton John and others.  I would hope that we as people, both lgbt and straight folks, can agree that the out and gay designers, put their foots-in-their-mouths with such offensive and stupid statements.  (Use your inside voices boys, don’t spew hate to a wide-audience interview).  Do they have the right to their opinions?  Sure!  Should all personal opinions be given to the world at large?  Definitely Not!  I think we do have to understand that these men are true Italians in a country that has not been very forward-thinking in lgbt rights and equality, and also a country that has a plurality of Catholics, (c’mon, the Pope-Mobile is parked in Italy), where these issues and right-to-life, are the daily group-thought.

My point in addressing this issue however, is not what they said, or the amount of stupidity that I thought they spewed, but is a boycott really the best we can do?  The first lgbt boycott I can remember, was against the Coors brewing company, primarily for their anti-gay hiring practices.  I guess you can call it successful, as it did bring attention to the issue, and I remember it, but was it successful in changing the practice?  Eventually the practice was changed, but was it due to the boycott that was enacted in 1973?  If yes, that’s a long negotiation, because the boycott wasn’t called off until twenty two years later in 1975.Since then, our lgbt Community as called for other boycotts, including: the Heinz Company, the Salvation Army, Target, Best Buy, Chic-fil-A, and Stoli vodka.  To my knowledge, all these companies are still going, have not really changed the issues that we were boycotting against, and I can tell you that personally, without my trusty Internet, mostly been forgotten.

In today’s day and age, is a boycott really worth our time?  I am not saying there are not acts, both in words and deeds, that should not be rallied against in protection or defense of our Community, but with the technology we have available, and the communication that is available, I think we need to re-think our definition of boycott.  Maybe it is my definition of boycott that is archaic, but doesn’t it still mean primarily to stop using your dollars to support the company or person?  Most boycotts that I am familiar with, start with some great press, but after the initial round of press, you never hear anything about it.

I want to support our Community, but a boycott for me and many like me, are just not an option.  I don’t drink beer, I like my fries with Ketchup dammit, and if I could afford Dolce & Gabbana, I would not still be living in Northeast Ohio.  I can participate in physical and virtual protest that isn’t a solitary purchasing boycott, and I could keep at it until we seem some actual hard line results.  I could create a video-a-week about two men kissing or together in a Heinz ad, and send it to their headquarters every day until I saw them show diversity in one of their ads.  I can write letters to the editor and blogs weekly about a candidate who I completely disagree with their politics, that has been supported by some company’s money.  I don’t want to have to sneak into Target to get my next discounted coffee maker.  Look at Elton John, who days after calling for the D & G boycott, had the misfortune of carrying a make-shift man purse, out of an older D & G bag from a prior purchase, just days after calling for the boycott. (See, social media can be a real b*tch).

Our lgbt Community is online like almost no other, and we have a large range of options we can use to put pressure on companies or persons who spread homophobia, hate, or sometimes, just plain ignorance.  Let’s coordinate email campaigns, micro-protests at storefronts when possible, social media posts and videos that can be shared, and shared again.  I am not trying to oppose the “idea” of a boycott, just maybe the execution of one.  How can we come together as a Community and make it successful, and sustaining until we get the change we are looking for, or the acknowledgement of our complaint.  Anyway, that are my thoughts on boycotts, I would love to know how others feel and what alternatives you have found that are working, or what didn’t work.