Thursday, November 13, 2008

El Coyote Boycott News

I was out of the office yesterday, and so was unable to report on yesterday's meeting between management of El Coyote and local members of the gay community upset about the revelation that a member of El Coyote's family ownership had made a personal, $100 donation to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.  I can be saved the time of describing the meeting blow by blow, as there is a factually correct account of it posted on shutupiknow.blogspot.com.

What the report fails to communicate is the level of upset among the El Coyote staff present.  Each and every one I spoke to was visibly shaken, some crying openly.  Each one stated clearly that although they disagree with Margie's personal position on the issue, that it is not the position of El Coyote as establishment or its management, so they do not understand the boycott.  They truly wish everyone could just get along, and allow individuals have their opinions without threatening the well-being of the entire establishment, a gathering place for a uniquely diverse community.  I tend to agree with that sentiment.

That said, it is not surprising that the meeting went the way it did, and it need not have done so.  One important element is missing from the reportage that helps explain why it turned ugly so quickly.  When Sam asked Margie if she would be willing to donate an equal or greater amount to Repeal Prop. 8, she deferred to management.  Management stated "We know Margie is so upset about this, and she would take back the donation if she could."

But when Sam pressed his question, Margie refused to donate a C-note to the opposite side, which would have effectively "taken back" the donation.  The deeds did not match the rhetoric.  I suspect that if Margie had agreed to do this, to put some meat into her apology, the issue would be dead.  But, sadly, it is not.

So... while I think the boycott is misguided, and its energy could be directed toward any number of larger, more complicit establishments, I understand and respect the anger and frustration of the community, and the need to make a visible protest of a visible target.

I had plans to dine at El Coyote tonight, at about 7:00... when the protest officially begins.  I will honor the protesters by not crossing that picket line.  But I will not boycott the restaurant before or after the protest.  The gay (and Other) staff, nearly all long-serving, dedicated employees, and truly wonderful people, depend on my dining dollars to feed their families.  Suggestions posted elsewhere that employees should "get other jobs" truly don't understand the nature of the restaurant: it is a family place in every sense, where owners, customers, and especially staff treat each other like family.  One might as well suggest these employees "get a new mother and father."

You may see me in El Coyote the next few days... you will also see me at the Repeal Prop. 8 rally at City Hall on Saturday.  I truly feel that's a more appropriate place to display our displeasure at the passage of Prop. 8.

3 comments:

Shane said...

What a disgrace. Intimidating a woman to recant her support for a proposition the gay community opposed, and then demanding a "c-note" to prove her sincerity - WTF? I will never see the gay community the same again - what thugs. I can only hope that all Californians see the reaction that has revealed many in the gay community as racist, intolerant and frankly - fascistic. When one has to worry about threats to welfare for the support and vote one has given, democracy suffers.

I'll do anything I can to support Marjorie - if not just to show her that she is not alone, but to stand up to those who think they can change the world through violence and intimidation. It'll be a dark day when no one stands up to them...

rasputintx said...

Sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures, and I think targeting El Coyote has a lot to do with publicity for the cause. But it also has to do with a sense of betrayal - like finding out your spouse has cheated on you, as someone used the metaphor last night.

And I agree with that feeling of betrayal, but after a lot of deliberation, I chose to join Jess at the restaurant last night to support the other wonderful staff. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the folks outside, too, and I'm looking forward to seeing them all at the rally in downtown LA tomorrow, because I believe we are right to protest this heinous piece of bigotry (Prop 8).

As I mentioned to one of the guys I was speaking with, I'm from Texas, and we just don't have that many gay-friendly businesses there. Darn few on the public scale of El Coyote. So I guess we just don't take them so much for granted, so it seemed to me like a counterproductive expenditure of energy and resources to target El Coyote in the midst of this fiasco. I would rather devote my time to the rally downtown or doing other work for the cause.

And as for some gay people being racist or intolerant, well, you're going to get a proportion of boneheaded assholes in any group. You would think that a group that is subject to discrimination would be more tolerant of everybody else, but that's often not true - 70% of the record number of African Americans who turned out to vote for Obama voted FOR Prop 8 - voted to actively discriminate against gays, denying them the right to marry whoever they want to the same way they (African Americans) were denied that right in many states until after the 60s.

You just have to keep talking to people one-to-one and hope that you can get through to them. I hope that someone gets through to Margie on a personal level, because that's what this is ultimately about, and I hope that the other staff at El Coyote don't suffer too much for it in the meantime.

Raphael said...

I can't believe people really think that asking for accountability amounts to intimidation.

This woman shed crocodile tears but showed no real remorse for the harm she inflicted on people she claimed as friends.

Betrayal is absolutely the right word for her actions.

It's an open question--and a personal decision--whether to hold the restaurant she's linked with accountable too. Their donation to Lambda Legal may assuage some protestors, but her hollow apology was merely another insult.