Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Andy Thayer, the GLN and Fiesta Azteca

About a week ago, in Alsip, IL, a suburb located approximately 20 miles southwest of Chicago, two gay men went to dine at a restaurant called La Fiesta Azteca. They claimed they were discriminated against by the owner and asked to leave. Accounts of what really happened that night differ, as they often do after such events. The gay couple claim that they were merely interacting with each other as any couple in love would - i.e. what most people would probably define as mild PDA, things like gentle kissing, hand holding, cutsey-couple things. The owner, in his interview on Fox news, claimed they were going at it pretty hot and heavy. He insinuated the couple was acting inappropriately by any standards regardless of gender. The gay couple played the homophobia card and a "kiss-in" was staged at the institution.

My motive for writing about this is not to discuss how these events have probably hurt business (and they have), and it is not to talk about the reactions of the sample population polled by Fox News (the people shown on the original segment which aired were not in favor of same-sex PDA, or any PDA for that matter. They also expressed concern that same-sex kissing as well as a gay kiss-in protest would hurt business and create an uncomfortable atmosphere for diners in a family oriented restaurant). I also am not interested in the Illinois State Law, which states that if you want to ban kissing in your establishment, you must post a sign that says so explicitly. If a sign is not posted, you must tolerate all kissing, regardless of the sexes involved. What I am most interested in is the hypocrisy and violent reaction of the GLBT community whenever they "feel" their "civil rights" are being infringed upon.

I would like to address the visceral and violent reaction of the GLBT community to perceived snubs. I received this e-mail through Facebook yesterday, in response to the "kiss-in" that was held at La Fiesta Azteca. I shall reproduce it here:

------------------------ E-mail pasted below ---------------------
Hi everyone,

We have received at least one report of an attendee at Friday’s Kiss-In receiving a phone call from someone purporting to be from the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) making threatening remarks about Kiss-Iners being on the receiving end of a potential lawsuit from La Fiesta Azteca due to “loss of business.”

Please understand that if you receive such a phone call, it is NOT coming from anyone at GLN. During the latter part of our Kiss-In or immediately after it, someone from Fiesta Azteca apparently picked up the GLN sign-up clipboards from a table in the restaurant and has used them to make these false phone calls while impersonating being a GLN member.

Unfortunately, thanks to this apparent theft of the clipboards, GLN does NOT have your email addresses or phone numbers, and so if you would like information about the Pride Parade contingent (and other activities), please send an email to – say that you were at the Kiss-In and wish to be on the GLN list, and give your name, email address and/or phone number.

Please understand that for someone from Fiesta Azteca to be making these fraudulent phone calls means that instead of any participants in our Kiss-In potentially facing a lawsuit, it is the makers of these calls who are themselves breaking the law and potentially subjecting themselves to criminal and civil proceedings. If you receive one of these calls, please do the following:

1) Look at your caller I.D. (if you have it) and copy down the phone number and any additional information it provides about the caller.
2) Take careful notes as to what the caller says, getting exact quotes where you can.
3) Ask the caller to give his/her name, and copy that down.
4) Do not make threatening remarks against Fiesta Azteca or offer up any information about yourself or others.

Sorry for this hassle, but apparently La Fiesta Azteca were even greater homophobes than we thought they were originally.

Finally, thank you again for participating in the Kiss-In!!


Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network
Frank Nielsen
Danny Hankes

--------------------------------- End of E-mail --------------------

Mr. Andy Thayer is making quite a few brazen accusations in this letter. Nowhere does GLN claim to have incontravertible evidence that makes it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the theft of the clipboards was perpetrated by an employee of Fiesta Azteca. It seems only that it was implied. Many possibilities regarding the theft of the clipboards exist. Maybe it was a concerned citizen with no ties to the restaurant. Maybe it was someone who had religious or moral objections to a same-sex Kiss-In. To give Mr. Thayer the benefit of the doubt, maybe it even was an employee of the Fiesta Azteca, trying to save their family business from financial ruin. Saving a venture which requires the investment of the amount of money that a restaurant requires does not translate to "homophobia." It is not "homophobic" to want customers to eat at your restaurant, and it is not homophobic to want 99% of the customers at your ***family-oriented establishment*** to feel comfortable at the expense of 1%. But like I said, I'm not getting into whether or not I agree with the owner's actions or the couple's kissing. I am getting into the fact I disagree with the loathesome methods the GLBT community has recently employed to circumvent freedom of thought.

I am reminded of the recent debacle over Prop 8 in California. The GLBT community responded to people who supported Prop 8 by violating their privacy while embarking on a witch hunt that would have made McCarthy blush. People who donated money - specifically the Mormons - in favor of preserving traditional marriage had to face a veritable shitstorm. Many had their identities published on a "blacklist" and as a result, faced a barrage of harassment. Their employers received angry phone calls, their businesses were boycotted, many of them were fired or forced to resign, they dealt with crude phone calls and e-mails, etc. Now, a similar thing is happening to the owners of a small, Mexican family restaurant in suburban Chicagoland, all because they wanted to make sure the majority of their customers felt comfortable dining there. It seems to me the GLBT community is responding to intolerance in kind. I urge La Fiesta Azteca's owners to confront Mr. Andy Thayer about his slanderous claims of "even greater homophobia" and his insinuations that it was a restaurant employee who stole the clipboard signup sheets.

From my own experience, gay men and women seem to want equal treatment. They don't want to feel left out and they want their love to be acknowledged to be as valid as their heterosexual counterparts. However, I think the GLBT community needs to become acquainted with the term "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Gay men and women long for marriage. Not content to be granted "separate but equal" privilegels of a domestic partnership or civil unions, they want marriage, a religious sacrament that is defined as a union between a man and a woman. It's ironic, considering how many gay men and women I know who have as high an opinion about religion as they do of George W. Bush. How does the gay community go about trying to achieve this equality? Perpetrating stereotypes. Whether we like it or not, society perceives our community as one which claims the wholesale rejection of heteronormative behavior, a community with escalating rates of sexually transmitted diseases (implying a disregard for safety or honesty), and a penchant for having anonymous sex, either through bars or the rabid use of the Internet to engage in risky sexual behavior devoid of emotion. I am, of course, not claiming the entire community is guilty of these actions. I know many people will complain about my use of the word "guilty" because many people adhere to some ridiculous notion of relativism in which one group's standards or morals are equal to another's. Regardless of it is the entire community or just a vocal and highly exposed minority, the fact remains: if we want middle America to accept us, we have to start living by the set of morals they do, or at the very least, not spit on them. If our community wants equal rights and equal respect, be prepared to meet the 90% halfway. Who are the 90%? The percentage of the population whose acceptance we have made clear we desperately want. We can't react to intolerance with worse intolerance and violence. This isn't a shouting match. If we truly want society to accept and embrace us, we have to accept, no, I daresay respect, their values and shortcomings. At the end of the day, do you want somebody to treat you equally because they respect you? Or are you content in somebody treating you as an equal only because you destroyed their life, their business, forced them to feel uncomfortable and threatened legal action against them? We all speak for each other, whether we like ir or not. Your actions speak for me and vice versa, because we all belong to the same community... and right now, I don't like what you're saying.