A Kentucky BBQ owner is getting criticism for selling controversial shirts that seemingly subvert the message of the LGBTQ rights movement, equating the letters in the phrase with "Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump and BBQ," Yahoo News reports. Despite the criticism, the owner says the shirts are selling out.
Jamie Smith is the owner of Bell's Smokin' BBQ, a food truck that can be seen in and around Williamstown, Kentucky. In addition to the food offerings, Smith began selling T-shirts as well - shirts that employees have been wearing inside the truck for about a year and a half or so. But not everyone is impressed with the message.
Smith says via The Louisville Courier-Journal that no one had appeared to even notice the shirts until he posted a photo of one in a Facebook post, letting his supporters know they were for sale. Within hours, he says, the responses were pouring in.
"I posted it at about 6, and at about 10 a.m. is when the threatening calls came."He says he got "about 30" phone calls that contained actual threats, although he didn't specify the nature of those threats. Others simply promised not to patronize his food truck. One person threatened to "call corporate," which Smith notes isn't exactly possible since he owns the truck and there is no "corporate" for anyone to call. A church, which had placed an order with the truck to cater an upcoming event, canceled its order. Smith says he's gotten more orders to replace the canceled one, however.
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Louisville Fairness Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ rights, thinks that alienating part of your customer base is bad business.
"The first thing I thought when I saw it was what a bad idea. What a bad business model, to automatically isolate not just a segment of your potential customer base, but all of their family and friends."Other responses were more positive. One Facebook user claimed to be from Texas, where BBQ is king, and he said he needed an XXL because of his fondness for smoked meats. Another claimed that the negative responses to the shirt were an attack against Smith's free speech rights.
Smith, for his part, says he has "nothing against" the LGBTQ community and simply thought the letters were ripe for subversion. Nevertheless, he later posted an apology in a follow-up Facebook post, apologizing for any hurt feelings and saying he never meant to "single out" anyone.