CAMPOut: Subtle as a Dumpling in the Cracker Barrel
|by Fay Jacobs|
|The minute the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain announced that it no longer supported corporate discrimination against gays I was relieved. Not that their odious former employment policy touched me personally, but it did affect my psyche.
First, of course, I hated the fact that any corporation could summarily refuse to hire gay people and, if one slipped though a human resources crack, feel free to fire gay people just because they were gay.
Blatant discrimination like that is just plain dangerous.
But secondly, the thinking person's boycott against a corporation that would do such a thing made me completely crazy.
For the simple reason that I was barred from patronizing Cracker Barrel, I had an unhealthy yearning to do so. Call it the forbidden fruit syndrome. Colloquially speaking, they forbade fruit and I became insane with curiosity about the contents of their buildings and the ingredients in their kitchens.
The ban made my imagination run wild, with thoughts of cholesterol-laden gravied breakfasts and Gall Bladder Platters providing that proverbial heart attack on-a-plate. Even the prospect of cutesy, early-America giftiana in their lobbies (or so I heard tell) made me giddy with anticipation. Never mind that I hate that stuffalso, for that matter, chipped beef and biscuits heaped with beige liquid.
The worst manifestation of my Cracker Barrel Fever came on the road. Hauling our Subaru down 95 to Florida, we always got hungry just past an exit with a dozen food choices. Then, we'd pass nothing but enormous Cracker Barrel billboards, taunting us for the next 18 miles. When you really needed a burger and a pit stop it was torture. Finally, we'd pull into some seedy diner, parking lot filled with rusty El Caminos and dine among the Bubbas.
Meanwhile, across the street, hungry homophobes were peeing in comfort and dining on what we imagined to be a little bit of carbohydrate heaven. But dammit, we kept true to our convictions.
Well! Now that Cracker Barrel, Inc, has seen the light and repealed its reprehensible policies, I say hip, hip hooray. I'm delighted that both gay and straight people are free to work there if they choose, and equally glad that both gay and straight people are free to eat there if they chooseespecially since we have a Cracker Barrel right here in our environs.
As for me, the instant the boycott became history, so did my Cracker Barrel cravings. They evaporated like a Cosmopolitan in a gay bar. Not to say I'll avoid the place, but I'm in no hurry. I far prefer Robin Hood and Crystal for my down home breakfast. But I'm delighted that one more policy of overt institutional homophobia has fallen with a thud.
But here's the thing. With overt corporate or government sponsored anti-gay discrimination, as despicable as it is, at least we have the luxury of knowing the enemy. It's the subtle discrimination that many of us see on a daily basis that's most disturbing.
A prime example was the recent trumped up story, on talk radio, followed by the weekly press, on men seeking sex in the Rehoboth Avenue bathrooms.
First, let me say I know first hand that the graffiti has been painted over and the bathrooms are being monitored. I know, because intrepid editor Steve Elkins and I actually trotted down those ill-reputed steps and went to see for ourselves.
But on the larger story, yes, it's true that public bathrooms everywhere have always been a haven for sex addicts seeking the same. Years of research has shown that these sex addicts are both heterosexual and homosexual, their orientation being moot, as they are merely seeking a fix. The majority of action happens to happen in men's rooms, not because these men are homosexual, but because they'd have to wait until they were snowboarding in hell and be afflicted by whatever the sex addict's equivalent of the DT's are if they counted on finding willing partners in ladies rooms. It's that simple.
So when newspapers lay blame for this stuff on the gay community they are wrong. At the most, sex-addicted homosexuals should get only part of the blame, the rest going to sex-addicted heterosexuals. It's not a gay thing, it's not a straight thing, it's a very sad subset of the human race thing.
So why is it that a recent newspaper editorial, while grudgingly acknowledging the economic, social and cultural contributions of the gay community to our hometown, went on to say that "a segment of the community is giving the area a black eye, and perhaps policing itself would be helpful."
What an insulting and ignorant statement. The entire gay community should police itself because of a few sick heterosexual and homosexual people? Okay, all you retirees, restaurant owners, shopkeepers, hairdressers, lawyers, yoga teachers, realtors, car dealers, therapists, whatever, take to the streets on bathroom patrol.
And yeah, since there were several rapes in the area, I want all heterosexualsthat means you barbers, insurance agents, teachers, boaters, students, housewives, seniors, teensto answer the vigilante call and get those rapists under control.
For heaven's sake, we all rely on the police to police. The gay community should police itself? Asking me and Bonnie, our friends and neighbors to make sure the sex addicts are out of the bathroom is one of the stupidest and most hurtful editorial suggestions I've ever read.It makes me want to go have cream chipped beef at Cracker Barrel. But I'm steering clear of the bathroom. You never know about those randy seniors.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 13, No. 1, February 7, 2003