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A food truck in Williamstown, Kentucky, is in hot water after advertising T-shirts that appropriated the LGBTQ acronym, rewriting it as supporting “Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ,” Vice reports.
Last week, a now-deleted post on the Belle’s Smokin’ BBQ’s Facebook page featured the pro-Trump T-shirt along with a message from Belle’s boss, Jamie Smith, advertising that he would be taking orders.
“We are going to stock up on some Swag,” Smith wrote. “Hat and shirts. Let me know what yall [sic] want via text message. We are going to have our traditional Belles shirts, trucker hats. We will also have our LGBTQ shirts as well Belle’s logo on the back. For those who said (wtf).”
Belle’s Smokin BBQ in Williamstown, KY removed this post after #LGBTQ supporters let them know how they feel about their shirt. How do you feel about it?
In response to the backlash, Smith told Cincinnatti.com that he found the acronym on Facebook and slapped the nonsensical “BBQ” at the end. He claimed he’s been selling T-shirts sporting the text for years, but this year “it just went out of hand and it got blowed up.”
A local LGBTQ—as in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer—advocacy group, the Louisville Fairness Campaign, quickly condemned the food truck’s post on its Facebook page, calling the venture “a bad business model.”
A similarly appropriated acronym was used on threatening pamphlets distributed to Tennessee gay bars last fall. In October, at least five gay bars in the Nashville area received flyers sporting the rewritten acronym with corresponding images, including one of an illustrated gun that reportedly resembled the assault rifle used in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Belle’s posted an apology last Friday for the controversial T-shirts on its Facebook page. “We respect all belief and lifestyles and want no ill will towards anyone,” it reads. “Again we apologize for any hurt feelings and thank our supporters who truly know us.”
But that apology was undermined in less than 12 hours. A post went up that afternoon advertising a Belle’s Smokin’ BBQ email address for fans to send their T-shirt orders to.
Please send You're T-shirt orders to email@example.com
Apparently wanting “no ill will towards anyone” only extends to nonprofitable ventures.
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Alyse Stanley is a video game and culture reporter based in Virginia with words at Polygon and USGamer. When she’s not writing about memes, she edits Unwinnable’s monthly magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @pithyalyse.