Web Osi Speaks!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Louisville Gay Bar Owner Likens POTUS Barack Obama To A Chimpanzee. Go Figure.

Posting divides Louisville's gay community
Bar owner admits image was racist
Written by Andrew Wolfson

A gay bar owner’s posting of an image likening President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee has roiled and divided Louisville’s gay community, sparking an angry debate about racism within a group that is more accustomed to being the subject of bias.

While the Fairness Campaign and many gays criticized the post as racist, others rallied to the bar owner’s defense, saying it was wrong for gays to attack one of their own, especially given his support for people with AIDS and other causes.

But facing a public protest and a possible boycott, Mike Flatt, owner of Tryangles and Teddy Bears, issued a public apology this week and agreed to hold a “diversity night” at Tryangles, 209 S. Preston St.

After initially defending the post as a joke, Flatt sent a written apology Tuesday to the Kentuckiana Black Gay Pride Association and others in which he acknowledged that the picture was racist.

“I did not understand that at the time,” he said. “I too grow, make mistakes and learn something every day.”

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign in Louisville, which brokered the apology, said the organization always has opposed all forms of discrimination.

Keith Elston, a Lexington lawyer who was one of dozens who joined in denouncing the post on “Louisville Courant,” a blog that first reported it, said in an interview that it is short-sighted for people in the gay community to “buy into racist stereotypes and jokes because it could come back so easily to bite them.”

“When we are talking about homophobia we are talking about the same mechanisms that drive racism and sexism and all the other ‘-isms,’ ” he said.

Other posters condemned Curtis Morrison, who is gay and disclosed Flatt’s post Feb. 2 under the headline: “Louisville gay bar owner screws up, BIG TIME.”

The picture, which Flatt put on his personal Facebook page last week, shows Ronald Reagan bottle-feeding a chimpanzee over a caption that said it was a rare photo of Reagan baby-sitting Obama in 1962.

Defending Flatt, one anonymous poster said it was “sad to see the gay community turning on one of its beloved just because they don’t share his sense of humor,” while another said there are “more appropriate things to be outraged over...”

Others called Flatt a hero for donating thousands of dollars to the annual Louisville AIDS Walk and other charities.

But Tanya Couch, founder and president of the Kentucky Gay Black Pride Association, said, “Just because you throw money into the community doesn’t make it acceptable to do something like that.”

Hartman said that the condemnation of the post by gays shows that the gay community is appropriately concerned about discrimination against others. He said that a protest that had been scheduled Friday at Tryangle’s will now be a “pro-cott” in support of the bar and against bias.

Morrison, a Democratic candidate for state Senate in the 35th District, defended his decision to report on the item, saying it is “healthy to have these conversations outed instead of handling them privately.”

He also said that the episode shows that the gay community has a broad spectrum of members.

“We’re all different,” Morrison said, “in our demographics, our politics and our prejudices.”

Flatt initially defended the post, saying on Facebook that it was “just a funny joke.”

“I’m certainly not racist and just as apt to post a joke” about someone who is gay, he said. “But that doesn’t make me a homophobe either!!!”

He removed the post, however, and said later that he had devoted most of his life to “fairness, equality, helping build gay churches” and helping raise money for charities regardless of race.

In an electronic message from Mexico, Flatt said Wednesday that he was unable to talk because he is recovering from a chronic lung infection and a tracheotomy.

But he wrote that he is looking forward “to everyone’s healing over this matter.”



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home