We have a long way to go with equal rights. My third grader brought home a study guide for social studies that had the term “civil right” on it. It’s definition was “rights that people have simply because they are citizens.”
As a country, we’ve come a long way. Many of us are lulled into a sense of “things are changing for the better” so we become complacent. Then a story comes up that shocks us back into reality. Few people would choose the label “bigot” for themselves. My opinion is if they don’t want to be called a bigot, they need to stop acting like one. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Big Earl’s Bait House in Pittsburg, Texas. Big Earl claims he isn’t a bigot, but also claims it’s fine for his daughter to tell customers “we don’t serve fags here.” Apparently the two guys who are no longer welcome there were touching legs. He said he has no problem with gays dining at his restaurant, as long as they follow his policy: “You’re welcome to come and eat, but a man act like a man and a woman act like a woman.” So, it’s okay if a man and woman are touching legs, but not two gay guys. On the entrance a sign says, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” I’ve seen similar signs before, but I always assumed that meant anyone unruly or rude would be asked to leave. I didn’t think it would mean anyone sitting with their partner. I’ll ask a few questions when I see signs like that in the future.
I know Assholes are everywhere. The story of Big Earl’s, while it bothered me, wasn’t something I was going to write about. It’s eerily similar to Gary Chicaros in Enid, OK. I wrote that story before. But there’s something more important here than a few isolated incidents.
Now, people from across the country are going to Yelp and giving Big Earl’s fake reviews. This disturbs me for a couple reasons. First, these adults who think it’s funny to give fake reviews on Yelp should know it’s not funny or clever. In fact, it’s been played out several times. Shouldn’t we be doing something more constructive? Second, it could be dangerous or hurtful to others. This story of Big Earl’s will blow over just like the story of Gary Chicaros blew over. It’s unfortunate that our memories aren’t longer. People are only held accountable for a moment, but not until their actions change. If someone goes to Yelp right now here are a few of the reviews they’ll see for Big Earl’s.
“All I was looking for was decent Bar-B-Que. I never expected to get hit on by goat ropers. They should make it clear that it is a “hook-up” spot…”
“Show up early on Tuesdays for drag night” “Best gay drink specials in town!” So in 6 months an out of town gay couple shows up for Tuesday drinks, expecting a welcoming environment, only to be treated poorly and kicked out. What’s that accomplishing? Who’s that really hurting? Not the restaurant owner who doesn’t want them inside. It is only hurting the gay couple that stopped in – encouraging another situation like the one people are so upset about right now.
Then, it goes a step farther. I’m seeing articles praising people for the Yelp protest. Several articles saying Big Earl’s deserves it or laughing about it. Titles like this one “Yelpers Take Hilarious Revenge on “We Don’t Like Fags” Restaurant” only encourage the immaturity.
Is it hilarious? I don’t find it humorous at all. Appalling is more like it. I understand the intent of the posters on Yelp are to get under the owners skin, and that may or may not be happening.
I appreciate this review: “This place is rude and homophobic to its customers. People need to be wary of supporting businesses that discriminate. Yelp will probably remove this review even though it’s accurate.” Actually, I would’ve liked to have seen many more along those lines.
This is a serious situation. Real change is what’s needed. Change is what we should be working for. When I went to Big Earl’s Facebook page, this is what I saw -
The sad thing is, I have no doubt there has been an outpouring of support from douchebags who don’t want to treat homosexuals fairly. They will lose some customers who disagree with their views and gain new customers based on this story alone.
While it should be illegal to deny service to a gay couple, it’s not. That’s the problem. That’s a basic human right that is being denied. People are fighting for the right to discriminate, instead of stepping back and asking, “what’s the right thing to do?” Gay couples should be allowed to marry and live happily together. But we have to fight with them so they will receive the basic civil rights that far too many people would like to deny them. Being inclusive is never a bad idea. I honestly believe this is an issue that our children will look at and with disbelief, the same way I, personally, look at segregation with disbelief. I have no concept of people just not being treated equally. Just like the previous generation fought for equal rights for African Americans, we need to fight for equal rights for ALL Americans. In some areas, it seems it’s not a fight at all – gay marriage is legal in Washington and has been for a few years. The state didn’t come crashing down or fall off into the ocean. I’m not saying everyone is totally accepting (I’m not disillusioned, there are bigots in every state), but I do feel like everyone is usually treated with respect. However, we also have states where the people want to discriminate just because they can. People who claim their religious freedom (to discriminate) is more important than others rights to not be discriminated against. That’s simply not acceptable. I hear some people say it’s a religious issue, but this article is exactly why I can’t accept that either. I know June is LGBT pride month. I’m not “proud” of gay people, but I’m not embarrassed or threatened by them either. I won’t celebrate anyone being gay. I don’t celebrate anyone being straight either. But, I will celebrate when all gay people have equal rights – the same rights – as I have. Desmond Tutu keeps running through my head saying, “If you are neutral to situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Being neutral is not an option. We must choose a side and stand for what’s right. If we believe marriage is a civil right (and discrimination isn’t), that belief needs to be shared. Injustice is happening all around us. We will either call it out for what it is, or we will condone it by doing nothing.
Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love – Macklemore