A few statistics pulled from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index is all the evidence usually needed to prove being gay-friendly in 2006 is good for business.
That is, unless your business is in Mason, Michigan.
Teri Yale, owner of Davey’s Basement, an alternative record shop located in downtown Mason, found that out the hard way after supporting the local high school’s gay-straight alliance.
After agreeing to sponsor a float the group entered into Mason High School’s homecoming parade in late September, Yale and her year-old business were hit with labels, accusations, police visits-and, of course, a boycott.
Unfortunately, unlike similar boycotts of big-name, gay-friendly corporations like Wal-Mart and Ford that end up being more bark than bite, Yale is having a hard time ignoring the wounds caused by the local effort.
“The store was just dead, for two days the door didn’t even open,” Yale told the Lansing City Pulse.
“Then, we would get out-of-towners, people driving through or people from Lansing, but a lot of regulars just stopped coming in.”
Yale’s oldest daughter, who co-founded the school’s GSA several years ago, shared her feelings on the boycott in a recent letter to the Lansing Area AIDS Network.
“Ever since the parade, the record
store’s business has been non-existent,” she wrote. “Several of our regular customers, who previously ignored the fact that we carry gay pride stickers and other (similar) items, now have informed us that they will do everything in their power to boycott and hurt our business.
“We are now known amongst the town as the store that publicly ‘promotes queers.’ These ignorant people have been spreading vicious rumours about our store and a mass-scale boycott has come into effect, courtesy of these parade-goers. “
“We cannot financially deal with this,” Yale’s daughter added. “We are struggling daily to even make a couple of sales. This boycott is founded on ignorance, and because of it we literally will shut down in a matter of time. That is not the message we want to send to the community; that hatred and homophobia, if in the majority, will accomplish its intended destruction.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Davey’s Basement has come under fire in the small city located just 10 miles southeast of Lansing. According to Yale, “we’ve been accused of selling drugs, and worshipping Satan here, too.”
Doug Klein, executive director of the Mason Chamber of Commerce, told the Lansing City Pulse he isn’t sure Yale’s problems are due to a community-wide boycott, though he said he “wouldn’t be surprised if segments of our community opposed something like that… Certain church members might oppose something like that, which I can understand, because it goes against some of their important values.”
For her part, Yale’s daughter hopes the state’s GLBT (and gay-friendly) population can promote their important values by counteracting the boycott and proving that it is “not only ridiculous, but ineffective… We’d like to prove that this largely homophobic town cannot run out a supportive, accepting, culturally diverse business atmosphere like the one my mother provides for so many kids and adults.”
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