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Homophobic Donuts and Free Speech? A Pittsburgh Paradox

10/2/09-by Sue Kerrgaydonuts

In what has to be one of the strangest branding strategies in recent memory, a local donut shop Peace, Love and Little Donuts has opened up in Pittsburgh’s Strip District with a sort of hippie/love/peace theme.

Meanwhile, the owner, Ron Razete, has been blogging about his very conservative, Christian-based, anti-gay views. He’s also opposed to the welfare state, Democrats, liberals, welfare, President Obama, the concept of systemic racism, and pretty much the rest of what’s often referred to as the “wingnut” social position.

A sample of his post-Inaugural blogging:

This crowd will not rest until Homosexuality is mainstream; until the Second Amendment is done away with; until abortion on demand is as common and accepted as going to the dentist; until sexual images and strip clubs line our streets and suburbs; until government education is started in the womb; until disagreement with their political party is “hate speech” and becomes a crime; until they pass the Fairness Doctrine and rid the county of Conservative talk radio; until they transfer our sovriegnty to the UN, etc. etc. etc.

This contradiction has caught the attention of Pittsburgh’s LGBT community via a local “queer events” discussion list where commenters shared a common disguest for the underlying hypocrisy of a bait and switch lure to secure progressive dollars, particularly pink dollars. List members and allies began blogging, commenting on his blog and basically spreading the word using new social media to educate the rest of Pittsburgh.

Several local queer women went to a restaurant review site, The Urban Spoon, to share their thoughts on the business. Almost immediately, the site owners began removing these comments, including those of this writer. The Urban Spoon’s Janet Becquey commented:

We prohibit certain things from reviews, including profanity, personal attacks, and legal issues. It’s possible that your review was in violation of one of those things. Negative reviews are perfectly fine, however – so we encourage you to re-post your review (after re-wording to avoid violating our policies).

The Urban Spoon terms of service. Ms. Becquey has thus far declined to comment on the allegation that the site is targeting comments originating from the LGBT community.

Mr. Razete has privatized his blog. The cache is here and indicates that Mr. Razete is aware of the criticism and continues to post. One can’t help but wonder how he is reacting to the attention. His rating on The Urban Spoon has sunk from an approval rating of more than 70% to the mid-40s, no doubt a reflection of the community response to his branding scam.

The issue is complicated. Certainly, some of the very members of the LGBT community crying “foul” are guilty of patronizing businesses that would not make the HRC‘s Top 100 for their gay friendly practices. Others contribute to the coffers of hate mongerers with world views similar to Mr. Razete, perhaps unknowingly to be fair. Is it fair to target a small business owner, even a self-styled elitest who clearly devalues the most basic civil rights of his customers?

A better strategy for Pittsburgh’s LGBT community might be to focus our money and word of mouth efforts to promote LGBT owned and allied businesses. The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh has plans to produce an updated print version of Pride Direct, a local pink pages. Several local sites maintain lists of these companies. We can utilize everything from the email list to Facebook to get referrals.

When it comes to donuts, in fact, there is an ally owned bakery across the bridge with a wide array of baked goods who has proven to be a friend to the LGBT community over the years.

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45 Responses to Homophobic Donuts and Free Speech? A Pittsburgh Paradox

  1. john

    December 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Fuck this guy. Fuck this business. I will slap that shit out of anyones hands if they’re eating it near me.

  2. Jen

    March 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    So what IS the ally-owned bakery just across the bridge?
    Thank you!

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  8. Akb

    February 26, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I just brought these donuts into work today, and everyone loved them…until later at happy hour, someone in the know pointed out that they were ‘homophobic donuts’. At which point, I slunk down and feebly mentioned that I had not known that. I’m not a political person, but I was embarrassed at work today because of this guy’s off-the-wall rants. (And yes, I do happen to be a left leaning moderate.) Good donuts. Bad judgment. I won’t go back. Shame — because he was a very pleasant guy.
    So strange because my husband and I also refuse to go to a coffee shop in our neighborhood because the owner used the “n” word once in front of my husband. People should keep their idiotic beliefs to themselves.

    • leigh

      June 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

      Hey,
      just wanted to say that my cousins opened the new peace love and little doughnuts in oakland and they have been getting yelled at and having doughnuts smashed on their windows.  I am gay btw and want to share that they have NO AFFILIATION with that pastor at the other store.  they just bought a chain and opened the store.  what that guy does has nothing to do with them, nor do they agree on it.  just wanted to share!

    • Sue Kerr

      June 7, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Leigh,
      That’s not technically true. According to the information I found, PL&D has licensed its name and business model to the other stores in Pittsburgh and one in Naples, with plans to become an official chain at some point in the future. The licensing alone means the Oakland store paid Ron Razete (he’s not a pastor, to my knowledge). I’m not justifying vandalism, but putting money in his pocket is not the same thing as “nothing to do with them.” I’ll make a point to stop by the Oakland store to follow up on this.

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  12. Me

    October 7, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Someone needs to mirror the cache somewhere. It won’t last forever.

    This part of it struck me:

    “The problem is with SIN. I didn’t invent sin (although my wife might joke that I am trying to perfect it), nor did I define sin. I just happen to believe like most people, that there is a better life to be lived if we avoid sin. That requires a knowledge of what IS sin, and my source for that is the Bible.”

    He has defined sin. That’s the problem. Ok, so you use the bible as your source. Fine. Even thought that’s pretty stupid, i’ll give you that. So does the bible clearly define what sin is? No. It’s vague. So then yes, you are making your own interpretations of it, or more likely following the interpretations of the religion / political group you belong to.

    Hate the sin, love the sinner stuff is BS. You judge them by the fact that you are proclaiming them to be a sinner. To judge is not to love.

  13. Sue Kerr

    October 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

    As recently as October 1, Mr. Razete publicly denounced the LGBTQ community as an “immoral minority.” There is no room or reason to move him along, IMHO. He’s publicly identified that he has a gay cousin, but still uses this language. Defenders of his beliefs and business have been harassing me via my blog. They refuse to address the core issue: marketing a business as being about a hippie/laid back/open minded approach while publicly damaging our families. This is not a free speech issue; it is an economic issue. Suggesting we constantly turn the other cheek in the wake of the very same rhetoric that elects anti-gay legislators is simply unreasonable.

    • AG

      October 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm

      Forgive me for repeating what I’ve already stated on another site, but I believe it’s relevant.

      I don’t need to agree with the religious beliefs, politics, or philosophy of a business or it’s owner in order to patronize it. I am not Jewish, but I am pleased to shop at numerous Jewish-owned establishments. I am a liberal Democrat, but this does not stop me from doing business with Republicans. This is a free country — more free for some than others –and we can choose to do business with whomever we choose. Do you really think that Ron Razete knowingly patronizes and supports gay-owned businesses or professional services? Boycotts are a time-proven, effective tool as a catalyst for change. If I perceive a business to be my adversary, why would I spend my hard-earned dollars to support it?

      Yes, Mr. Razete is entitled to his opinion. He is not entitled to my money!

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  15. Ragnad

    October 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Judging by the attacks on this shop owner in these comments, I think you may have all inadvertently proved him correct. Just saying!

    • Kelly

      October 7, 2009 at 7:33 am

      Yeah, I kind of have to agree with this. I’m not anti-gay, but based on the hateful response the gay community has returned to this man, I don’t see them as any better in their actions, and I’m pretty sure they’re just solidifying this man’s reasoning for being against homosexuality as opposed to demonstrating to him that his feelings aren’t necessary. I’m pretty disappointed in the gay community, actually.

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  22. Chad

    October 4, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I want to thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. I am a huge supporter of local business. I heard about this donut shop from a friend over the weekend and I almost stopped in. Thankfully I passed, but I did end up having a donut form my friend. I will be sure to NEVER support this business. I am thankful for the power of social media and its ability to let people know about the businesses which would rather smear someone simply because they don’t agree with who you are. Do your part and spread the message. I have blogged about this already and posted on numerous review sites and social media outlets. Don’t allow one of your friends to fall victim to this disgusting owner.

  23. Mark

    October 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Here’s their Yelp! review page. Looks like it could use a little updating:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/peace-love-and-little-donuts-pittsburgh

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  25. paranoid_you_bet

    October 3, 2009 at 7:25 am

    or maybe you didn’t remove my comments… I can’t tell… others have said they can’t see them and I didn’t either but now that post again they are back up… very strange…

    • Sei

      October 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

      Paranoid-

      Your comments are held back until one of the editors logs into the site and verifies whether or not it is spam or not. That is not specific to YOU, but it is specific to all people who post on our site. Unless you would like to see about a hundred ads for Viagra written in Russian, we have to filter all comments. We also do this in order to prevent comments from getting through which are really beyond the pale. What you said is not in that category, but please do not assume that your comments not being visible right away has anything to do with what you wrote.

  26. paranoid_you_bet

    October 3, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Very very sad… that you removed my comments. Jesus (who as an athiest I do not acknowledge as god but who I do think was one damn bright fellow) said to turn the other cheek, and so I shall, but perhaps you should learn that lesson as well… and oh yeah, you will not vanquish your enemy by hating him or not buying his donuts (and what if the flour he bought to make the donuts was a product of a fair trade company? Just how far will you/can you take that thread?)… you can only vanquish by proving to be right by example. Best of luck…

  27. paranoid_you_bet

    October 3, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Ooops… Forgot to add the last thought…. Miles Davis beat women, Neil Young actively supported Ronald Reagan and someone please explain Dennis Hopper to me.

  28. paranoid_you_bet

    October 3, 2009 at 6:10 am

    All this reminds me, sadly, or the Seinfeld epoisode where Poppy’s views on abortion divided ultimatelt everything from pizza consumption to romantic relationships. While I agree that intolerance is wrong the sad reality of life is that liberals fill the coffers of conservatives, Log Cabin Republicans accept intolerance, Democrats are just as hate filled as Republicans, and the world, in short, is filled with polemic paradox. I have no solution for this, and while I feel that it is immoral that the doughnut man markets (in a way) to liberals while hating them, this is not uncommon. You don’t know 99% of what really goes on behind the scenes in this life, and really… Avoid the doughnuts because they are bad for you and be careful of that fine line that seperates his hate from yours.

  29. Sue Kerr

    October 3, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Thanks for all the feedback. I, too, am a proud ‘burgher. Our City has a lot of LGBt good things going on. This story is an example of the power of new social media, for good (spreading the word) and the not-so-good (revealing hidden agendas that people might prefer to hide). Maybe it is some of both? Based on the comments that are posted (and removed) from The Urban Spoon, as well as private discussions on the local email lists, Facebook, and bulletin board, there are plenty of alternatives to this restaurant — some queer owned and some owned by allies. So that’s the silver lining. Pittsburgh is a great place and I hope to continue providing coverage for Lez Get Real.

  30. WDOphoto

    October 3, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Wow – I don’t really even like doughnuts but because this guy opened in my neighborhood I thought that I would give the shop a try (also because he became a member of the community group that I am a member of so I was going to welcome him to the strip). He can forget that now. When he first opened, and joined said group, I looked at his facebook and saw he was an ultra-con so I thought it best to not friend him (because of the leftist stuff I put on my own page), but I had no idea he was publicly spreading hate.

    That’s for sharing this information with the greater Pgh community. I will pass it along to the folks at the Cork Factory (where I live, and whom could be a sizable customer base) as well as the group that we both belong to and several other groups that I’m a member of.

    The Strip District is NO place to set up shop if he wants to spew this kind of hate. I don’t want it in my neighborhood.

  31. Lou

    October 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Um, hate speech? remember when Republicans (and therefore Fox News) called anyone who didn’t support Bush, or the republicans, or the war, unAmerican? If you didn’t like Bush you were suddenly an evil pro-terrorist anti-American?

    Now that Obama’s in, and the Dems have power, the conservatives now throw abuse at the president like there’s no tomorrow…something that couldn’t dare to be done when they were in charge.

    I guess this is that irony they talk about all the time.

  32. Melanie Nathan

    October 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks Sue I like the post, melanie nathan

  33. Chal Pivik

    October 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Ouch, this one hurts. I’m proudly from Pittsburgh and was in the Strip District during a visit two weeks ago. I remember reading about this new shop. I’ll definitely spread the word and forward your post to friends and family.

    For the record, while it is nothing like the imaginary version of the city as depicted in Queer As Folk, Pittsburgh has come a long way with gay issues and was way out in front duirng the AIDS crisis, before larger cities like NYC and LA. But there are still a lot of backward people there who are sadly locked into a homophobic mindset. I would like to believe they are decreasing in numbers there and I hope that’s the case.

    • AG

      October 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

      I agree with you, Chai. I, too, am a proud gay Pittsburgher. No, we don’t have a DuPont Circle or a West Village, but Pittsburgh is a pretty good place to live — friendly and affordable.

      When I read, in the past day or two, that the Gay Games had been awarded to Cleveland, I thought why not Pittsburgh?

      To mention a few benefits: I believe that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have a half-decent anti-discrimination against gays law as well as an openly gay member of the city council. .We have a local gay newspaper and a brand new GLBT Community Center. There is an almost monthly “OUTrageous” benefit bingo. Pittsburgh’s excellent annual Gay & Lesbian film festival will be starting is just a few weeks. And what could be gayer than The Warhol?

  34. RJP3

    October 2, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I think he missed the memo — being gay is mainstream in 2009

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  36. Jessica Sideways

    October 2, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Fascinating… While I think it is a good idea to publish business lists of companies who are LGBT friendly, we also need a list of businesses that do not make the grade, as a notice to our populace and allies.

    • Chal Pivik

      October 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      Jessica, check out the HRC site’s Buyer’s Guide, which rates businesses in terms of there gay-friendliness.

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