After he received hate mail for hanging a pride flag in his window, Kentucky bar owner Darrin Burchell knew he couldn’t leave it alone.
“We need to quash ignorance. We support everyone’s right to speak their truth,” his bar, My Old Kentucky Foam, wrote on its Facebook page. “When it is at the detriment of good people, we have a responsibility to act.”
With that attitude in mind, Burchell didn’t discard the letter. Instead, he shared it to Facebook in the hopes of having it go viral, thus reversing its initial goal and spreading his own message of inclusivity.
Burchell told CBS/CW affiliate WKYT he hung the pride flag in the window of My Old Kentucky Foam bar in Georgetown in the fall to celebrate the city’s passing of the Fairness Ordinance, which protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
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When he received a letter in the mail in October, he was prepared to take note of some constructive criticism.
Instead, he received a typed, two-page letter that criticized the “polarizing” flag and made homophobic comments about gay parents having children. The writer also vowed not to return to the drinking establishment.
My Old Kentucky Foam shared the letter on Facebook, writing, “It matters not who you are, what you are, or how you identify yourself in the hallowed halls that are My Old Kentucky Foam. It never did. And it never will. We invite ALL, even the Grinchy letter writer and his/her/their friends to enjoy.”
Many customers took to the post’s comments section to leave messages of support, with some saying that the bar’s inclusiveness had inspired them to make a trip to come visit and support the business.
“We’re just saying at this time of year, share this to as many of your friends as possible because this kind of thinking is NOT the environment we foster. We need to make a statement,” the bar wrote in a comment.
Burchell told WKYT he’d been sitting on the letter since October as he thought about the best way to tackle the situation.
“I don’t like being bullied,” he told ABC affiliate WTVQ. “I don’t like telling other people that they should be discriminated against, or don’t have as many rights as other people.”
He also said he had a plan in mind should the letter writer come forward: invite him or her in for a beer.
“Diminish prejudice with familiarity,” Burchell told NBC affiliate WLEX. “So, we will introduce them to our place. Say hey, you’re welcome here.”