McDonalds: a long and dismal history of anti-LGBT action

It would be nice to think Baltimore was a one-off. Sadly, as stories are drifting in across the boards, it seems that McDonald’s has a fine reputation for transphobic and homophobic bigotry, that has been finely honed over the years. Here’s just a few of what I’ve gleaned in the last few hours.

A shameful past

One poster writes to tell of an incident in the McDonald’s on Eighth Avenue between thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth street in NYC next to Madison Square Garden.

She and a trans male friend were sitting and eating when they realized that the two employees hovering over them had been sent to do so. She asked to speak to the manager. One employee smirked: the other went away. About two minutes later, six police entered and ejected the pair from the restaurant. This took place six years ago so regretfully it cannot be pursued further now.

Neighbourhood watch your back

Next up is a story reported in Gossip Rocks from 2008. The incident appears to have taken place outside McDonald’s in West Village, Manhattan, but originated inside.

Two men first insulted then beat up an aspiring actor and model, Damien Furtch for the heinous “crime” of wearing “colourful clothes”.

McDonalds employees join the fray

In 2008, an employee at a McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Louisville, Kentucky directed a string of anti-gay slurs towards a group of gay customers.

ACLU took the case up and, it has since been reported, the men received compensation of $2,000 each from McDonald’s for their treatment.

Trans not wanted here

In December 2009 17-year-old trans woman Zikkeria Bellamy, applied for a job at a Mc Donald’s franchise in Orlando, Florida. She was denied employment and called a “faggot” by a manager although, credit to McDonald’s in this instance: the manager was subsequently fired.

A similar story is reported in respect of the same franchise in 2010, but I have been unable to substantiate this. Either it’s the same story being rehashed through the internet – or folks in Kentucky are slow to learn!

One step forward, two back

In 2010, what might have been a step in the right direction – as McDonald’s developed and aired a gay-themed ad for audiences in France (see below).

This back-fired when head of operations, Don Thompson, told the Chicago Tribune that the ad would not be shown in the US.

He is reported as saying: “It is an example that markets, cultures are very different around the world.”

He goes: “I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don’t impose those on anybody else.”

Except, perhaps, in the United States!

Going down, down under

Oh. And New Zealand, which would appear to be another culture where, according to McDonald’s, folks just aren’t ready to welcome gay folk. In January of thise year, multiple sites report how McDonald’s NZ was blocking access to LGBT sites on the grounds that someone in the organization thought that such sites were “inappropriate”.

Ah, yes. There’s that old chestnut. Straight and phobic folk just can’t imagine a world in which not everything is about sex. Trans? Its about sex, innit? Gay Rights? They just want to have sex, don’t they?

Thankfully, that particular ban seems now to have been rescinded, but it all goes to highlight a culture within McDonalds that is deeply LGBT-phobic, deeply inimical to the rights of sexual minorities.

And its still going on

Of course, i haven’t even mentioned the Baltimore incident, which put the spotlight fair and square onto McDonald’s, but even their handling of that shows how little they care for LGBT rights.

It took four days before their media office could deign to respond with suitable croc tears and expressions of concern and sympathy.

Cynics might imagine that they would have done so without the video going viral and the hoo-ha on US TV. Others might wonder.

And they’re still getting it wrong. In Australia, McDonalds have removed a post from their webpage enquiring about their policy towards transgendered customers. It was deemed to have been inappropriate.

In the UK, attempts to contact the duty press office (supposedly available 24/7) were first made on Friday evening and followed up on Saturday. Two days later, we are still awaiting a response.

However, this hasn’t stopped them from 24/7 moderating their Facebook page and deleting, according to one source, any and all critical comment about the Baltimore incident.

Let’s face it: McDonald’s, you are a bunch of homophobic, transphobic hypocrites. You may not express yourselves outright in that way. But its your actions that count and, looking at your long and dismal record on these issues, the LGBT community can make up its own mind.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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7 Responses to McDonalds: a long and dismal history of anti-LGBT action

  1. andrea says:

    the piss take is more entertaining 🙂

  2. Jennie Kermode says:

    Edinburgh, Scotland, around 1997. The big McDonalds across from Waverly Station on Princes Street. I was there with a group of friends; we were getting some food before going out to a club, and one of my friends was putting his make-up on. A few days later he was stopped by a friend of his who, as it turned out, had a part time job there. Said friend informed him that the staff had been watching us on CCTV and that, if we hadn’t left when we did, they would have thrown us out, essentially because they didn’t approve of him wearing make-up. That’s the last time I went in a McDonalds but prior to that I must have re-applied lipstick in there countless times; I guess because I look female a completely different standard applied.

  3. Jane says:

    Fuck em…..

  4. Ryan says:

    A minor point: I know this probably wasn’t your intention, but being from Louisville, I found the ‘folks in Kentucky are slow to learn’ comment a little… um… below the belt, particularly since it wasn’t directed at McDonald’s franchise owners or McDonald’s employees, but Kentuckians in general.

    My experience of Louisville is that it is a relatively liberal, open and LGBT-friendly city despite its location in the bible belt. I’m proud that my home city will be celebrating the 12th anniversary of ‘fairness’ protections which are inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity. There was a local response to this homophobic incident; the Fairness Campaign (the local LGBT organisation), along with others such as the University’s LGBT group and the American Civil Liberties Union, organised a protest at the McDonald’s in question.

    The employee was obviously a bigot and an idiot and I accept your argument that McDonald’s as a company has something to answer for given the repeated homophobic/transphobic incidents. With regard to Kentucky, however, there’s no use in tarring everyone with the same brush.

    • janefae says:

      Yeah. And apologies if it came over that way. Though, re-reading, that really wasn’t the intent.

      I started this piece with a few incidents reported to me through another source. As i also work as a journalist, the last thing i am going to do is just repeat incidents that someone else has mentioned without checking.

      When i researched the Louisville one, i found detailed reporting from 2008 but nothing from 2010, which is when my source claimed it took place. So, when i wrote that either the two incidents were confused or Kentucky folk are just slow to learn, it was directed at the possibility of a second incident with much the same facts in pretty much the same place.

      In my world view, i wouldn’t see that as being a slur on yourself or Kentuckians: just a straightforward bit of reporting. So…either, maybe, there is a slight turn to that phrase that we over this side of the atlantic don’t have: or you’re taking me as intending something rather more hostile than intended.

      Anyway. What i’m trying to say is: i didn’t intend any sleight by the phrase. Sorry if offense was taken. And i’m leaving it in place, but with this apology and your comment attached to highlight that your point is noted and accepted.

      Hope that makes sense.


      • Ryan says:

        After re-reading, I see what you mean now. Apologies for the confusion. There was indeed only one incident as far as I’m aware, which was the one in 2008. Otherwise, I think people mostly co-exist peacefully 🙂

  5. Tony Holden says:

    That was a vicious beating, any member of staff who stood by and let it happen is as guilty as the two women who started it. They should all be fired and I personally think they should all be treated as accomplices by the police.

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