Cake Shop: Vignettes of LGBT discrimination
There were stories in England of the “no blacks, no dogs, no Irish” signs being put up at the entrances to restaurants and boarding houses. I am not naïve about the capacity of human beings to be douchebags. It is just that you can’t quite get over the shock of realizing that there is one in your neighborhood and they are supported by a host of douchebags. My story is all about cakes and gays.
Now, there is some cake shop owner who has been in the news recently. Apparently, they even won a Supreme Court case (makes me wonder at the type of people they put up there if they can come up with judgments like this particular gem). In my case, it was not that I was campaigning about anything. I did not ask them to make a cake in the shape of a male sex organ or decorate it with some filthy atrocities. Neither did I advertise me as a gay per say. My crime was having an earring and looking a bit “gay.
I have a keen sense of hearing (I wish I didn’t, it would save me lots of trouble). So, it was pretty easy for me to pick up on the backchat behind the counter when I came. I asked for six cream cakes to take out. They looked at like some alien then the idiot behind the counter said that they were not able to serve me. I could not quite believe it. He then had a look of horror, as if he realized that I knew what was going on. Very quickly and nervously he mumbled to the effect that all the cakes had been booked. The tone was resentful and fearful. I then asked for a chocolate one instead. He said that they too had been booked. I knew exactly where this was going. I could have wasted my time and a bit of my life going through every single item in the shop but I was due to attend a meeting. Instead, I told them I would be reporting them to the better business bureau.
Cake Shop: Prejudice is Everywhere and Nowhere
This incident got me thinking. Was it the court case that gave these bigots the courage to do something so outrageous or was they sneakily doing the same thing to everyone that they thought was gay? In actuality, I am not gay so they were also rather silly for thinking an earring is a sign of being gay. I have had this debate with a friend and even my own parents. They say that wearing any kind of ring is an invitation. Apparently, I am saying that I am “open for business” whatever that means. Well, I would like to think that I am open-minded enough not to make negative assumptions about people based on a single ring in their ear. I wonder what they would say if I showed them the tattoo on my back. They would probably shrug and say “a druggie too”.
My race, age and social economic status mean that I rarely get to encounter raw prejudice that is directed towards me…at least not in the negative sense. The only stereotypes that I encounter are those of a white male metrosexual who has it undeservedly good. Generally speaking, people make it easy for me to go through life. I suppose that is what you could call white male privilege. Nevertheless, I do think that we are a fundamentally unjust society. We get ourselves knotted into these silly divisions that are based on the flimsiest of excuses. I mean, you really can’t get any sillier that turning away perfectly good customers because they are not dressed according to your liking.
These people need to be put out of business. Ah, I know that the market fundamentalists will tell me that it will all be sorted by the forces of demand and supply. If enough people are not satisfied with the sale tactics employed by the bigots, they will turn away. The business will close and that will be that. It would be nice to think that there is some invisible hand that is going to rescue us from our own worst prejudices. The problem is that that invisible hand tends to appear in order to reproduce the inequalities that already exist in our society today. It works to get the rich richer and the poor even poorer than before. I, therefore, would not set too much stall by the invisible hand to sort out our social mess ups.
Let me illustrate this by telling you more about my encounter with the bigots. I did make the complaint and published it. As you can imagine, it was vitriolic in intent but all written in that wonderful understatement that years at private school drummed into me. The customers were outraged. I was called all sorts of things. One of the epithets that kept coming up was that of the over-sensitive “snowflake”. There was also the usual “fake news” mantra that has become something of a tired cliché these days. I have to say Trump has done America a great service by showing us up with all our dirty linen in hand. Nobody will ever believe that we are a really civilized nation again. Everyone in the world knows that we are not that great in terms of our people skills and decision-making after all our president perfectly reflects who we are at any given point in the electoral cycle.
Cake Shop: Bigots Stick Together Through Thick and Thin
I must admit that the reactions to my review were more disappointing than the petty rejection by this incompetent cake salesperson. It seemed that the people that bought cakes from that shop fully supported one of their own. This was a tribal thing with the bigots doing everything in their power to ensure that their fellow bigot was not called out. Some actually said I was a bigot for assuming that they did not serve me because they thought I was gay (never mind the fact that I clearly heard them musing about my sexuality). Another suggested that he too would not serve a “stinking millennial”. Apparently, we are so “up ourselves” that it is hard to interact with us on any level. Wrong second time too. I am not a millennial. In a few months, I will be 50. The millennial label may be complimentary but it is beside the point.
The point is that this shop is denying people the opportunity to buy cakes, yet they advertise themselves as a cake-selling business. The rules as I understand them is that you cannot do this, at least not on the grounds of assumed sexuality. One of the sharper respondents trolled me by saying that everyone discriminates. He said that the banks often turn down those whom they assume to have bad credit or bad credit potential. That is an interesting point…perhaps everyone is just a bigot and we should all just give in to our inner bigotry? I think I would not like to live in such a society. Surely we can aspire to something better than turning away people from cake shops because they appear to be “gay”.
Where Does it All End?
You might think that I am making a mountain out of nothing. If they say no to me in one cake shop, I should go to the next. For me, it is really about the principle. If we accept this kind of behavior as the norm, there is nothing to stop people from pushing the boundaries. It becomes the proverbial slippery slope where businesses are really the settings for business owners to exercise all their excesses. It might not be long before the “no dogs, no black, no Irish” signs come up again. Now that would be a real turn up for the land of the free and home of the brave.
The people that used to put up those signs always had seemingly substantial arguments to back up their prejudice. Dogs were messy, blacks were undesirable and the Irish were just being the Irish. We know better. We know that dogs are not always incurably messy. We also know that black is not undesirable or that being Irish is not some kind of affliction that must be avoided at all costs. These are just nonsensical arguments that we use to mask our real hate for one another. The term “hater” is over-used (and sometimes censored for this reason in public forums), but it can be an apt description for some people. They are really looking for reasons to hate others rather than to love them.
I will definitely never return to that shop and by all accounts, the owners have enough bigots to support their business. All in all, little will change for the better. My worry is that eventually; the shop owners will graduate from turning away gay-looking customers to firing employees that are not to their liking. You don’t have to do something bad to get this kind of rejection, but they will get you nevertheless. It is one of those situations where you have a target on your forehead and back but nobody really explains why you are being targeted…a very sad indictment of America today.