A biker bar in Wyoming has been condemned for selling t-shirts suggesting that the “cure for AIDS” was to shoot gay people.
The Eagle’s Nest, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was criticized after a photo of the shirt began circulating on social media.
The shirt features a man pointing a pistol and reads: “In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS. We shoot fuck’n faggots.”
Images of the shirt were first circulated by Wyoming Equality, the state’s largest LGBTQ organization, which declined to name the bar out of fear that the bar would gain notoriety among anti-LGBTQ groups or receive more orders requesting shirts.
Wyoming Equality also asked people not to protest the bar, for similar reasons, asking them to instead donate money to it or to the Wyoming AIDS assistance, reports the Cowboy State Daily.
“We are sad to say that we failed to convince a local bar to pull these shirts from circulation. We hoped that they would choose to stop selling them when they realized the harm it did to the LGBTQ community and those living with AIDS,” Wyoming Equality wrote in a Facebook post. “…It is a sad day. Wyoming Equality understands that…this sucks.”
It remains unclear how long the bar had been selling the shirts, although Ray Bereziuk, the owner of the bar, said the shirts are “sold out” and will no longer be available.
Bereziuk told The Cheyenne Post that he stopped selling the shirts and would not reorder them because he is “in the bar business, not the apparel business.”
Sara Burlingame, the executive director of Wyoming Equality, said that she had previously approached the bar’s owners twice and asked them to stop selling the shirts, but the owners refused.
“Want to make it unpopular to be a bigot?” she wrote in a personal Facebook post. “Donate to Wyoming Equality or Wyoming AIDS Assistance. Put a pride flag up in your business or home. Wear one of our cool AF shirts. Pass a Hate Crime bill. Invest in queer joy and resilience. Let the haters hate in their own misery. Keep Wyoming queer and wild.”
The bar owners have refused repeated requests for follow-up comments.
The shirts were condemned by groups from across the political spectrum.
“It’s incredibly disheartening to learn that any business would offer a product for sale with a message like this,” Gov. Mark Gordon (R) said in a statement to the Casper Star-Tribune. “This hurtful rhetoric is not reflective of our state’s values, and does nothing but promote hate and division.”
Scott Cheney, the president of Wyoming AIDS, said the shirt and its message were harmful.
“For 19 years, Wyoming AIDS Assistance has seen the power of communities coming together to raise money and erase stigma for Wyomingites living with HIV/AIDS,” Cheney said in a statement. “This shirt is not only disgusting and degrading, but it is phenomenally damaging to the image of Wyoming as a whole. We have to be better than this.”
Last month, the Joint Judiciary Committee voted to pursue expanded hate crimes protections after hearing testimony from residents who called for tougher measures for people who target the LGBTQ community for violence.
Some of those testifying, including Dale Steenbergen, the president and CEO of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, expressed concerns that Wyoming is missing out on business opportunities because of a lack of hate crime protections and perceptions that it is hostile to the LGBTQ community — perceptions that took root particularly after the 1998 killing of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.
“Companies are more socially aware than they ever have been,” Steenbergen said in testimony last month.
“I do not feel the committee fully realizes how other Americans continue to see Wyoming, and by not having some kind of a bias motivated crimes statute, it continues that perception,” State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne), the chairman of the Joint Judiciary Committee, told the Star-Tribune.
Dominic Bravo from the pro-tourism group Visit Cheyenne condemned the anti-gay shirts, released a statement, saying: “This type of shirt doesn’t represent the community we live in.”
UPDATE: The alleged victim has since recanted his story, saying the carving was consensual. Get all the details here here.
Spain's prime minister has condemned an attack on a young gay man after a mob of people carved a homophobic slur into his buttocks.
The attack took place on Sunday, Sept. 5, in the Spanish capital of Madrid. The 20-year-old victim said he was walking home around 5:15 p.m. when eight people "with their faces covered" cornered him in the entrance to his building, El País reports.
During the attack, the group called the man "disgusting," "shiteater," and "maricón," the Spanish word for faggot.
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