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Monday, July 13, 2009

Apparently Not *All's* Fair In Love or War: Potentially Homophobic Pic Yanked From BART Operators' Union Web Site

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2009 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge This photo was featured on the BART operators' Union Web site, along with text describing BART spokesman Linton Johnson as the 'Forbidden Fruit of Diligent Union Workers'
  • This photo was featured on the BART operators' Union Web site, along with text describing BART spokesman Linton Johnson as the 'Forbidden Fruit of Diligent Union Workers'
Earlier today, we noted that the nastiness level in the ongoing battle between BART and its unions had reached Spiro Agnew levels. Yet it appears the rhetoric may have gotten even a bit more hurtful than the combatants intended.

Posted on the Web site of the Amalgamated Transit Union No. 1555 -- the union representing around 900 BART drivers and station agents -- was a photo of BART spokesman Linton Johnson, dressed as a giant banana for a Jamba Juice event some years ago.

If the goal was to make management's mouthpiece look ridiculous -- well, mission accomplished. But the text accompanying the picture did more than that. "Linton Johnson: Forbidden Fruit of diligent union workers," read the caption. It warrants mentioning that Johnson is openly gay -- making the notion of calling him a "fruit" more than a little offensive. ATU President Jesse Hunt said he was not aware of Johnson's sexuality or that the picture was posted on his union's Web site.

"Well, you know, everything can be taken the wrong way. But I'm certain that [homophobia] is not the intention. I will have to see what is behind this, though," he said, acknowledging he "couldn't say" whose bright idea it was to pair this picture and caption on the union site.

When asked if he thought the statement was malicious, Johnson replied: "I don't know what it is, but my family along with my gay and straight friends are all calling me and are completely horrified, disgusted and offended. At the very least it's in poor taste and doesn't accurately reflect the wonderful, hard working, kind and thoughtful BART Station Agents and Train Operators in ATU who I meet day in and day out."

Within 10 minutes of Hunt receiving SF Weekly's call, the picture of Johnson was yanked off the Web site. That was speed that even a BART train in the Transbay Tunnel can't match.

click to enlarge rsz_1atulinton.jpg

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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