So Friday was a big day in Indianapolis, for me at least. I continued with my weekly protest of a local bakery’s anti-gay business policies and felt some “heat” for the first time…so I think our message is hitting home for 111Cakery! I also made some close connections in our community. And, Cher brought her “Dressed to Kill Tour to the Crossroads of America. And, what an amazing performance!
Each week during my “personal Lenten journey”, I’ve experimented a little with my message or the delivery. It’s brought varied results for sure, and kept things interesting. So, at least I know folks are paying attention!
In prior weeks, I kept mainly to the corners of 16th and Delaware or 16th and Meridian, to get the message out to as much traffic as possible. I also honed which signs were most effective, and as positive as possible (see last week’s lesson…)
These two are my favorite…with the “Honk” sign drawing the most reaction from passers-by. I particularly love when walkers or bikers simply yell out “honk, honk…”
This week, I moved closer to the actual bakery. Since the owners are “sticking to their guns” with their anti-gay business policy, I wanted to make sure in my last weeks of protest that the owners heard the honking horns of cars driving by, showing support of a boycott of 111Cakery. As I’ve shared dozens of times over the past weeks, “Yes, they [111Cakery] have a legal right [today] to turn down business. And, all I want to do is get the word out, so that if people want to take their business elsewhere, we can.”
A video journalist came out this week to interview me as well, wanting to contribute to the existing online stories about 111Cakery’s business policies (see The Huffington Post and this somewhat charged Vlog on YouTube.) He stopped in the bakery to ask the owners if they were willing to be interviewed. They declined.
Well, I believe Randy and Trish felt the heat of the honking cars, and the possibility of more national attention. We were joined by Tim, a “friend” of the bakery. He came out of the shop over to where we were standing, and asked why I was boycotting . When I told him, “because the owners refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s committment ceremony,” he actually cut me off and told me that was not what happened. Really!?! I think he should refer back to the original Fox59 story and get his facts correct! When I spoke with Randy, that’s exactly what he confirmed as well…it was their business policy, and they are sticking to it.
Tim then told me that me being out there “week on week like this” was akin to bullying, because I wanted to “inflict damage” on the owner. Interesting argument…ok, it’s not interesting. It’s weak and far-fetched. This has been a peaceful demonstration.
I will admit this peaceful demonstration has been about impacting the bottom line of a small business owner, who today is legally able to discriminate based on sexual orientation. [Note that I believe it would be illegal to explicitly refuse to serve someone solely based on their race, gender, religion, or national origin – for example.] So, yes, if Randy and Trish want to continue turning down business in these situations, then I’m just as interested in turning away business in the first place…particularly in this gay-friendly neighborhood. And, if in doing so, 111Cakery suffers “damage” to their bottom line, that is not “bullying” — it’s simply supply and demand. A business lives and dies by its sales and marketing…and we are now clear on how 111Cakery positions itself in this marketplace.
Maybe 111Cakery will learn, like Chik-fil-A’s CEO finally admitted, that it’s better business to focus on making great cakes and leave it to “politicians and others to discuss social issues.” It was a tough lesson for Chil-fil-A, but they probably won’t go under as a result of learning this lesson in the marketplace. It has to be tougher for a small businesses…who knows if 111Cakery will be around in a year.
But I’ve learned a helpful strategy..picket closer to the source! And picket repeatedly. I think they’re feeling the heat a little…and I don’t think it’s from their own ovens!
On a more positive note, I was joined by a young woman, Erin, who brought her own homemade sign. She is a graduate of Heron High School, and works in the culture labs of Eli Lilly. I also have a good friend who works in the biology labs here in Indy…and it turns out Erin works in Sandy’s lab! Small world!
I met Sandy back in the early 90’s at Lilly through the LEGAL group (Lilly Employees, Gay and Lesbian). She was instrumental in my coming out in the early 90’s. I still remember her giving me a copy of the Flirtations CD. Whenever I hear “Everything Possible,” I remember my big sister” Sandy…and her love and support during those early years at Lilly!
I love when the universe delivers connections like this…reminding me that Everything IS possible… And you haven’t seen the last of me yet!