Anti-gay elitism

The New York Times’s obituary for the founder of Cracker Barrel brings up something that’s still legal in most of the US:

His tone was considerably harsher when it came to defending a January 1991 directive to all the company’s restaurants to fire employees “whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” Mr. Evins’s explanation for the edict was that gay people made customers in rural areas uncomfortable. As many as 16 openly or suspected gay employees were promptly fired.

The policy was later overturned by the restaurant’s shareholder board.

I visited the in-laws earlier this month. My father-in-law is straight, French, and a worker. He didn’t go to high school, doesn’t speak a word of English, and doesn’t know any gay people apart from his son and people he met through him. So sometimes the cultural divide seems great.

But when we were discussing anti-gay discrimination, it was clear he understood just how fucked up it is for an employer to try to control their employees’ sexuality. Sorry, you pay us to work for certain hours, but you don’t have the right to tell us who to live with and what to do with our genitalia after the shift is over.

That policy wasn’t just homophobic, it’s patronizing and elitist. Explained that way, more Americans would get it.


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