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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The GLBT National Help Center Has No Tolerance for Hateful Pizza

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 8:01 AM

  • Alena Kazlouskaya

After Indiana passed a so-called “religious freedom bill” (read: state-sponsored discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers) in March, there was a bit of shock and awe among progressive Americans that a state legislature could be so retrograde in 2015. As the controversy played out, the owners of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., told an ABC affiliate that no, they would not cater a same-sex wedding if asked.

This led to a social media uproar (with a lot of people asking who would ever want calzones and garlic knots served at their wedding reception). People sabotaged Memories' Yelp page (arguably not the most helpful tactic in the crusade for social justice). It shut down for about a week, and various conservative outlets joined forces to raise close to a million dollars to support these hapless small-business owners from “domestic liberal terrorists.” This was taken as a sign of God’s approval, although the comments thread on the Support Memories Pizza page is home to a decidedly rousing debate on the matter (and while Indiana governor Mike Pence emphasized repeatedly that this was not an antigay bill, the pizzeria’s supporters would appear to disagree with that sentiment).

Brad Becker, Executive Director of the San Francisco-based GLBT National Help Center, noted that, “It wasn’t Jesus giving them the money, as much as a whole bunch of religious fundamentalists trying to make a sick point.”

To offset all this love for hate, the Center has begun its own GoFundMe campaign to counteract the bigotry. A softer, kinder alternative than the calls for a boycott of the entire state of Indiana, which would be of dubious help to the hundreds of thousands of LGBT Indianans and their allies, Give a Pizz’a Your Heart is looking to send the message that rabid intolerance shouldn’t pay.

While the locus of the fight for equality would seem to have moved from bakeries to pizza places, the GLBT National Help Center’s true mission goes a little deeper. It runs two hotlines, one specifically for youth and the other for people of all ages who struggle with isolation, coming-out issues, and more. It’s likely pretty tough these days to be a kid in rural Indiana who knows that he or she is different from the others, so a small donation could go a long way.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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