When most people think of LGBTQ, they assume the letters stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. But Belle’s Smokin BBQ owner Jamie Smith has his own way of defining it:
Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump and BBQ.
— ✨Claudia✨ (@Cla_TeamHaught) April 14, 2019
He’s been selling T-shirts with his play on the term for nearly two years, he told Fox 19 in an interview. But it wasn’t until this week, when he started advertising the shirts on the Bell’s Smokin BBQ Facebook page, that they really took off.
“I posted the shirt today for new swag and it just went out of hand and it got blowed up,” Smith said.
The post went viral, and that’s when the controversy started. The business received a deluge of negative complaints accusing the company of bigotry.
“Simple BIGOTRY…sad commentary for business good luck going broke!” wrote one commenter on the now-deleted Facebook post.
“Wearing that shirt is fucking offensive,” a local woman told Fox 19.
Belle’s Smokin BBQ also said they’d received “harassing messages and threatening phone calls.” At least one person who never visited the restaurant left the business a bad review on Facebook over the controversy.
The company responded by taking down the offending post and issuing a statement apologizing for offending “any groups of people, organizations or individuals with our shirts.”
“We respect all beliefs and lifestyles and want no ill will towards anyone,” the statement read.
And while Belle’s Smokin BBQ may have apologized for “any hurt feelings” engendered by their merchandise, they have refused to cave on selling the T-shirts. A Facebook post telling customers where they can place their orders is still up on the company’s page, which has led to the business’ critics and supporters continuing to speak out.
“Love your shirt, as do most of America,” read one of the top comments on the post.
“The dedication to completely f***ing yourself is astonishing,” wrote one critical commenter.
Conservatives have long argued that progressives’ virtue-signaling and the excessive policing of so-called microaggressions show how out of touch the movement is with the mainstream of American society.