Cross posted at NWA Center for Equality
What do you get when you combine the courage of one woman, the utility of social media, and a lot of average people willing to speak up? Change for Equality…that’s what. Right here in Arkansas.
Last night JennHudd (Jennifer Huddleston) tweeted a picture of the current issue of US Weekly Magazine featuring a cover page of Elton John, his partner David Furnish , and their newborn son Zachary. Or at least that what most people would have seen on the cover. Instead, shoppers at the Harps grocery store in Mountain Home, Arkansas saw this:
Yep…censored love. Right here in Arkansas. Jennifer tweeted this Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning it had been picked up by bloggers and groups across the country. GLAAD reports that the shields were removed by midday today and that Harps management says they have no opinion on the magazine. Evidently the effort to censor gay families was not a coordinated effort through Harps stores, rather a decision of the individual store after complaints from shoppers.
Well, fair minded and rational people also complained about the censorship. The effort of passionate people across the country and in ARKANSAS made a difference. We still need to be alert to the effort to silence our families in Harps and other stores, but this is a sign that only when we speak up are we heard.
Why is this little event important? Being told that our families are obscene sends a message to all LGBTQ people that they are not acceptable. A message so strong about the “obscenity” of love, family, commitment, and joy of LGBTQ people is yet another reason our youth grow up in communities that do are not safe and supportive.
LGBTQ families need the support and protection afforded other families. LGBTQ youth need safe and supportive communities that encourage healthy development. Youth need programs like NWA YES. Arkansas needs places like the NWA Center for Equality, the only LGBTQ community center in the state of Arkansas. Families…youth…our neighbors…our legislators….they need the truth about LGBTQ people. This is part of that truth:
Harps Food Stores posted a response on their website. Here is the text:
A statement from Harps regarding the US Weekly cover
We have received a number of comments regarding an incident in our Mountain Home store involving the current issue of US Weekly Magazine depicting Elton John, David Furnish and their newborn son. I would like to explain how this happened. For many years we have provided each of our stores with shields which can be used at the manager’s discretion to cover the front of magazines when they receive complaints from our customers regarding either the photo on the cover of the magazine or the titles of articles contained within the magazine. Sometimes those photos might be sexually provocative or too revealing. The magazine article titles might also be too suggestive for some customers. In this case our store manager received some complaints and, as has been our custom, placed the shield over the cover of the magazine. When we began receiving complaints at our corporate office, we reviewed the magazine in question, removed the shield and are selling the magazine in all our locations today without any shield. Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores and this incident happened at just one of our 65 locations, which when brought to our attention, we reversed.
Kim B. Eskew
President & COO
Harps Food Stores, Inc.
Notice anything funny about the statement? It doesn't apologize anywhere or say that the manager made a bad decision. Nowhere in the statement does it say that the picture was not "sexually provocative or too revealing" or "too suggestive." This statement is not exactly the kind of message that says "Hey, congrats to John-Furnish family on their new addition. We messed up by censoring the picture. We support our LGBTQ customers and community!" Perhaps Harps should consider an employment nondiscrimination policy. Walmart, their main competition has one, at least for sexual orientation. Harps needs to do better than just state what happened.