When headlines started to circulate about a Texas pastor who’d received a cake from Whole Foods decorated with a gay slur, the described act of brash hate from our beloved (and overpriced) purveyor of organic goods seemed unreal. But what’s even more unbelievable is that Pastor Jordan Brown made it all up.
Brown originally claimed that, after ordering a cake with the saying “Love Wins”, he received a cake that said “Love Wins Fag”. He filed suit against the organic grocer. And Whole Foods filed a countersuit, standing behind its strict anti-discrimination policies.
In an interesting turn of events Monday, Brown released an official apology to Whole Foods and stated that no wrongdoing had actually taken place. All litigation was dropped, and it was even revealed that the employee who decorated the cake was a member of the LGBT community.
All of this just seems so odd. Why would this man, especially a pastor, go to such great lengths to stage an act of discrimination? Was he motivated by the promise of a big payday (in this case $100,000)? Was he hoping to shine a light on the continued struggles of the LGBT community?
In his apology statement, Brown says that “I apologize to the LGBT community for diverting attention from real issues.”
Pastor Brown is the founder of the Church Of Open Doors in Austin, Texas. The church’s website describes it as a “non-denominational, non-traditional, Christ-centered, welcoming, LGBT-friendly, worshiping church”. As the creator of a community that clearly recognizes the struggles of LGBT people and as one of the community’s members, it’s bewildering that he would create this viral distraction.
There’s enough discrimination against us without creating false problems. Despite the severity of our fight for inclusion, this situation is a reminder that no community is safe from dishonesty or desperation. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame and their slice of the viral pie.
To me, this seems like a setback. We are winning with visibility and opportunity. But the last thing we need is for our collective character to be called into question. Surely, as more time passes, Brown’s motives will be revealed. However, this continues to be one of the strangest news stories of 2016 so far. And it’s also a reminder that there’s just as much work to be done within the community as there is outside.