Metro Weekly

Anti-LGBTQ Activist Causes Tempest in Tractor Supply Teapot

The farm-supply chain drops its HRC relationship and DEI efforts after a prolonged attack by Robby Starbuck.

Robby Starbuck - Source: IMDb Page
Robby Starbuck – Source: IMDb Page

A Tennessee anti-LGBTQ activist and filmmaker, Robby Starbuck, is claiming credit for the June 27 announcement from Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Company that it is ceasing its efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“This is the first Fortune 300 company in our lifetimes to go backwards on ESG (Environmental Social and Governance), DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and all these woke causes and donations, in record speed mind you,” Starbuck told his The Robby Starbuck Show audience on YouTube.

“It’s been three weeks of a barrage of news that me and my team have put out to show the world what Tractor Supply has become.… Here is one of my favorite parts: They’re pulling out of the Human Rights Campaign’s CEI (Corporate Equality Index) scores.

“This woke farce called the Human Rights Campaign has nothing to do with human rights. It has everything to do with injecting wokeness and the LGBTQ agenda into corporate America. Rejecting this is a massive win.”

Indeed, while Tractor Supply earned a 95/100 score on HRC’s 2023 CEI, which serves as a leading measure of LGBTQ corporate efforts, the company’s late-June shift confirms it will no longer participate. 

“Going forward, we will ensure our activities and giving tie directly to our business,” reads the Tractor Supply announcement, in part, which offers five examples of policy changes.

“For instance, this means we will: 1) No longer submit data to the Human Rights Campaign.”

The announcement says Tractor Supply will “Further focus on rural America priorities including ag education, animal welfare, veteran causes and being a good neighbor and stop sponsoring nonbusiness activities like pride festivals and voting campaigns.” Starbuck characterized his attack on Tractor Supply in benign language, insisting, “The whole goal of this campaign was to bring people back together, back to a place of sanity, where everyone in the workplace could exist without feeling like they were being politicked to or divided along identity-group lines.”

Notably, however, in the course of his campaign, he targeted Melissa Kersey, head of human resources at Tractor Supply.

“For pride month in 2022 she held a meeting that promoted PLFAG (LGBTQ+ group that supports sex changes),” reads one Starbuck post.

PFLAG, originally founded as Parents of Gays in 1973, is by its own definition, “the nation’s largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them.”

While Starbucks’s effort to change policies at a nearly century-old company with more than 2,200 stores nationwide and more than 50,000 employees will almost certainly boost his profile among right-wing activists, he is likely best known for his documentary film, The War on Children.

Rolling Stone has reported extensively on tactics some have characterized as deceptive to secure the participation of drag performers and transgender professionals in the film. 

A Feb. 10 Rolling Stone article by Nikki McCann Ramirez ran with the headline, “Emails Reveal How Anti-Trans Doc Tried to Dupe LGBTQ Allies Into Participating.”

Describing the film itself, Ramirez wrote, “It asserts that those issues [e.g. suicide, child trafficking, ‘de-transitioning’] are the result of widespread efforts – primarily led by the left and LGBTQ+ activists – to medically and surgically ‘mutilate’ young people through gender-affirming care, sexualize them through social media, drag, or the introduction of pornography to schools, and normalize relationships between adults and children. This ‘war on children’ will ultimately usher in the destruction of society if not won by warrior parents, the film argues.”

Starbuck is likely less well known for his prior career making music videos, which, according to his Wikipedia filmography, include 2009’s “Just Got Paid Let’s Get Laid” for the band Millionaires, and 2010’s “Money Makes the Girl$ Go Round” for Official Hot Mess.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!