It seems that the LGBT(plus the other letters, I forget what they are, sorry about it) community and the world of commercial baking are destined to be at odds for all eternity. You sort of imagine that the real-world examples of intolerable intolerance should take place in some kind of grand setting, somewhere with gravitas – like on the steps of a cathedral or a courthouse. It’s almost laughable that the battles we continue to fight actually take place in bakeries – which, if I can indulge in some outdated stereotyping for a moment, are surely some of the gayest businesses around what with all the frothy pink frosting and edible glitter flying around.
There was the Bert & Ernie Nothern Ireland incident, there’s been a smattering of cake refusals across the states in Texas and Colorado, and now the latest is from Ohio, where a woman has been told that the bakery can’t make the birthday cake she wanted because the cake happened to be to celebrate the birthday of her wife. To make it even more heartbreakingly hilarious, the bakery owner did it all over text, and even threw in a smiley as well – to be expected I suppose in 2016, perhaps she could have added a few emojis too, a monkey not baking a cake perhaps, or a pile of poo with googley eyes being flung at a gay couple? And why not a gif as well! We love gifs. A character from a reality show making that “sorry but I’m not sorry” awkward face would have been perfect. Anyway, here is the text:
If you read that and your mouth isn’t now hanging open in a “what the hell?!” kind of fashion then you need to re-read the text until it is. This is atrocious. It’s abominable. It’s despicable and every other words that means downright nasty.
It’s the apology that gets me. They’re so sorry? As though somebody is forcing their hand when they’re making the choice all on their own. And that smiley…….don’t get me started.
The reason why this is so dangerous is because although we’re protected higher up the chain (it’s not illegal, we can get married, we can’t be refused work etc), we don’t live up there. We live down here, on the street, in the bakery. We spend our lives doing all those banal things that “normal” (good god I hate that word) heterosexuals do too. Yes folks, gays are actually real people! We go to the supermarket, we go to the cinema, we exercise (sometimes), we go to the garden centre on a Sunday and we eat cake, sometimes special bakery made cake. If those little normalities are allowed to be stamped on without remonstration and/or correction then we’re not fully enjoying an equal life. The big triumphs like marriage start to seem a little bit hollow, a bit less real. This kind of casual discrimination cannot be ignored. We must, together, challenge it wherever we find it.
And to those who say that everyone is entitled to an opinion, I say this: you’re wrong. Some opinions are so rotten, so shameful that yes the person can have them but they shouldn’t ever, ever even have the lightest feathery touch on society. And I don’t care about religious freedom – religion has far, far too long been used as a weak excuse to excuse homophobia. You want to discriminate against me on the basis of stories that have little more weight than Goldilocks? Try. I studied Theology and I’ll tear your faith a new one.
Interesting bit of news this last week about the gay couple in cornwall being refused a double room at a hotel. I think it was at some point last year that there was a gay couple who were turned away from a B&B completely, and there was some argument at the time made by the right wings that a B&B is different to a hotel in that it’s your own home, so you should be able to decide who is sleeping under your own roof. That’s a load of tosh anyway. If you’re going to be picky about your customers, don’t run a business in hospitality. Anyway, back to this latest story. It seems this was a hotel this time, not a B&B, and that the christian owners had a “no married couples in the same bed” rule, which they claim they would have enforced if mr straight and his girlfriend miss hetero had turned up instead. It’s a rule that applies to anyone, regardless of sexality in other words. Okay, not perfect and a bit backwards, but at least you’re not discriminating too much.
BUT ahh, and here’s the rub – the gays can’t get married! They were actual civil partners, so married in every sense apart from the actual word part, or married as far as the law goes I suppose. But they weren’t “married” so they were told that they would have to have single beds, or possibly even seperate rooms, I’m not sure, the article wasn’t that clear. Point is they were discriminated against – which is now illegal.
There’s been a court hearing, and the gays have won (score!) but the straights are going to appeal. The judge sort of sympathised with the straights, saying that people were allowed to have their beliefs etc etc, but basically that at the end of the day they’re running a hotel, and since gay people can’t possibly get married in the sense of how this couple would want them to, then it’s not fair to turn people away.
I think this is all just ludicrous. I mean what that couple were thinking, I have no idea. Why set up a hotel – a hotel of all things – if you don’t actually want a percentage of the population sleeping in the same bed! The main thing about a hotel is sleeping! If you take away the sleeping part then you’re left with a public toilet and a restaurant! Why! Why! Why not just set up a restaurant! Or a toilet! I don’t know, it’s just barmy isn’t it.
And of course it gives the religious right wing the perfect opportunity to wheel out their “christians are under attack” barrel, crack it open and spread attention seeking nonsense as far as the eye can see. Under attack? Really? By a nice gay couple who wanted to have a quiet weekend away with their newly adopted dog? Tell you what, why don’t you get in a time machine, pop back to about 35 AD and ask St Stephen about being persecuted whilst he’s being stoned to death for being a christian. Hmmm? Might get a bit of perspective then eh? Christianity as a religion is not under attack. End of. The institutions of the religion maybe, but that’s no bad thing.
See it like this – over time, machines in a factory are upgraded, technology and understanding improves, and the technology moves on. But it still does the same job. The factory still makes the same stuff. I mean look at things like cadbury dairy milk, actually, no bad example, they’ve got new owners……ummm, okay, fairy liquid! That’s been around ages now. It’s still brilliant, people still love it, and i’m sure the original inventor guy would be chuffed to bits. But they’re not still making it in cauldrons and squeezing leprechauns to get that green colour or whatever it is they used to do. They’ve advanced. The product, the message is the same, but the method has evolved. Christianity needs to do the same. You’re not honouring anyone or anything by standing still. Moving forwards doesn’t mean you forget what’s important or forget the past, it just means you incorporate new ideas.
Despite what this straight couple might think, and despite what a lot of christians might think the amount of fuss that’s been made – disagreeing with homosexuality was not one of Jesus’s key teachings, if one of his teachings at all (trust me, I’m a theologian – although let’s not get bogged down in a biblical debate right now, don’t get me wrong I’d love to but I need to have a bath and it’s getting late.) So my advice would be to let it go. Stop panicking that you can’t discriminate anymore about what your religion apparently frowns upon, and start enjoying that which your religion smiles upon. And that, as far as my understanding of my own christian faith goes, is love.