Recently, two men claiming to be community leaders caused an uproar in the LGBTQ community. Ironically, they’re both gay men. The first is Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah; the second is David Robinson, an official with the Republican Party.
Williams attended the grand opening of a chicken franchise that has spent millions of dollars fighting fundamental rights for LGBTQ people. He argued that this specific franchisee welcomes everyone to eat at her restaurant. Big deal — no one’s got a beef with her.
The issue is that she sends money back to corporate every year. A lot of money. According to a 2018 Business Insider story, franchisees are required to pay an equipment fee equal to 15 percent of sales plus 50 percent of pretax profit. What does corporate do with all that money? Well, a lot of it is used to fight against equal rights for gay people. According to Think Progress, citing the corporation’s tax records, nearly $1.5 million in donation went to anti-gay causes in 2016 alone.
Williams also contended that you shouldn’t deal only with allies if you want to see progress. He’s right. However, he’s dead wrong when he suggests that reaching out to corporations that fund anti-gay causes is how to meet and introduce our community to civic leaders in places like Riverton. If that’s the only way he and the other leaders of EU can engage leaders outside Salt Lake, maybe it’s time for EU’s board to take a hard look at their executive director and his tactics.
The logic displayed by local GOP leader David Robinson seems equally bizarre. In an editorial board meeting recently with a local newspaper, he and other Republican leaders pitched — among other issues — how their party is the best choice for gay voters. Apparently, they’re unfamiliar with Vice President Pence’s views.
But it was his comments about the tragedy of teen suicide that led to the brouhaha. He suggested that the numbers of sexual partners gay men have, and the wild sex parties they attend, could be a contributing factor to young people taking their own lives. He also quantified the number of partners as “grundles,” which I assume is somewhere between a bazillion and a kajillion. His comments were so wacky that a fellow Republican eventually apologized on his behalf.
Here’s what pisses me off about these two guys: they claim to know the LGBTQ community. Now there’s no such monolithic group. We’re not just the men, women or nonbinary people living in the hip neighborhoods of Salt Lake. Some of us have had one partner for decades, and some of us have a different partner every night. No group is better than any other. We all deserve respect and equality.
I submit that living out here in the burbs as another family is equally, if not more, effective in changing attitudes than holding some fundraiser or spending long hours at the legislature. We’re the neighbors, constituents, and friends of those suburban civic leaders. We don’t need to go to questionable groundbreakings to get their attention.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having “grundles” of partners — assuming you’re conscientious about your health and the health of your partners.
It is, after all, with whom we are physically intimate, that separates us from our straight neighbors. But clear, ignorant statements lacking the barest modicum of factual proof are dangerous.
Both men need to leave their comfort zones and start interacting with the people for whom they claim to speak. So, who knows — in the process, they may even discover grundles of gay-friendly chicken!