A member of PFLAG arranged for a fundraiser at Johnny B’s Pizza Pad in Belmont, with the restaurant agreeing to donate part of the sales to the nonprofit. But PFLAG said the owner backed out when he discovered what the acronym stands for.
PFLAG was formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
News about the cancellation went viral in 2014 with nasty comments directed toward the restaurant. Owner Doug Rogers, who did not return multiple messages from the Observer seeking comment, told the Gaston Gazette that it was not “my decision to determine how to live your life” but rather “a business decision.”
In a letter in defense of Rogers, county commissioner Tracy Philbeck said Rogers chooses not to host fundraisers “he deems partisan or potentially divisive.” Philbeck condemned PFLAG:
“... PFLAG is not about tolerance at all. PFLAG is about the destruction of marriage between one man and one woman. PFLAG is not about acceptance, it is about indoctrination.”
Jim Kellogg, of Gastonia, is a vocal LGBTQ rights advocate and said there’s “a huge difference” between the climate toward LGBTQ residents of Gastonia and neighboring Mecklenburg. Earlier this year, during a walk of silence in protest of HB2, he said passersby in cars and trucks yelled, “You’re an abomination” and anti-LGBTQ slurs.
“It’s hurtful,” Kellogg said.
Sometimes it’s frightening. On an open Facebook forum, Kellogg said, a commenter threatened to “get his Marine buddies and put me in my place.” Kellogg said he reported the threat to police but no charges were filed.
“Part of the issue is North Carolina doesn’t have a statute against hate crimes,” Kellogg said. “Until we are protected on every level, people are free to do what they want and say what they want with little repercussions.”