After lawmakers passed House Bill 2, business executive Bob Page took the unusual step of contacting the nearly 4 million customers on his company’s email list.
“I want to make one thing clear: Replacements, Ltd. affirms the dignity and beauty of each and every person. You will always be warmly welcomed.”
He added a personal note: “You may know that I’m gay. One year ago, I married Dale Frederiksen, with whom I’ve shared my life for 27 years. Together, we have raised twin sons we adopted as infants in Vietnam. In July, our boys will be 17. Last summer, we added another teenager, a Nigerian scholar-athlete, to our household.”
After the email blast in March, Page said, “dozens of people said they would never do business with us again.”
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His response? “There are just things more important than business.”
Page said he has lost business over the years by speaking out for LGBTQ residents. Someone spray-painted “fags” in giant letters on the company’s generators. Someone wrote “fags and queers work here” over the walls of the men’s restroom. A woman used her car to block traffic to the showroom, “screaming about homosexuality and the coming of the Lord.”
When the local newspaper wrote about Page and Frederiksen adopting two boys, the vitriol turned personal. Page said one reader accused them of adopting the boys in order to molest them. “It was an emotional roller coaster,” he said.
Page, who is 71, grew up on a small tobacco farm. He was taught in church that homosexuality is a sin.
“My experience of feeling like an outcast opened my eyes and my heart to all who have been judged for being different,” he said in his March email. “While acceptance of people like me and families like mine has grown – and I am grateful – transgender people today face obstacles similar to those I saw first-hand generations ago.”
Replacements, Ltd., on Interstate 85 near Greensboro, sells old and new china, silver and other collectibles. The company has 11 million customers, $80 million in annual revenue and a number of transgender employees, whom Page described as “extraordinarily talented people.”