I Scream! You Scream! We all scream!
Over ice cream.
Over the past several days, a number of seemingly homophobic tweets from Garrett Shirey, of Muscle Shoals’ Shirey Ice Cream, have circulated the internet.
His ire, it seems, was the result of the Boy Scouts considering a change to their anti-LGBT policies. On Jan. 28, 2013, he fired off, “‘@ShoalsNews: Scouts considering retreat from no-gays policy dlvr.it/2sJyKB’ Putrid. Shame on the BSA! Sissified effeminates.”
It has become the tweet heard around all of Alabama.
Since then, Shirey’s tweets (though private) were screen-captured and have spread quickly via social media.
On May 5, Muscle Shoals’ Jack-O-Lantern Farm announced on Facebook that, due to Shirey’s comments, they would no longer carry his product. On May 7, The Red Clay Epicurean announced that, they too, were pulling their support.
“Due to the recent comments made by Garret Shirey, that we do not agree with, we are no longer carrying Shirey Ice Cream,” Jack-O-Lantern Farm stated.
Alan Phillips, executive chef and owner of The Red Clay Epicurean, said “I will not discuss the content here. I will say that I found the hateful language disgusting. I feel that I can no longer use, promote or associate with Shirey Ice Cream at this time.”
The fallout has only continued to grow, as customers on both sides of the argument have posted on the companies’ Facebook pages that they will boycott Shirey Ice Cream and Jack-O-Lantern Farm, respectively, for their views regarding the situation.
Earlier today, Equality Alabama, a pro-LGBT rights organization, issued a press release supporting those businesses standing with the LGBT community.
“Equality Alabama stands with companies like Jack-O-Lantern Farm who are not afraid to stand with an estimated 480,000 LGBT-identifying persons in Alabama,” stated Ben Cooper, Chairperson of Equality Alabama. “We fully acknowledge that Garrett Shirey has every right to speak his mind, but we further acknowledge that LGBT consumers and businesses have every right to decide where to spend their money.”
Many of Alabama’s largest employers are more accepting than Shirey Ice Cream when it comes to LGBT issues, Equality Alabama noted. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama now offers insurance to same-sex couples, and Alabama Power and The University of Alabama at Birmingham offer same-sex spousal benefits to their employees.
“Mr. Shirey’s comments are disheartening and will sadly do nothing but further the narrative of Alabama as a place where bigotry and inequality still exist,” Cooper went on to say. “Equality Alabama knows well, though, that the tides of change are not only turning with voters, but also with business owners. We support Jack-O-Lanter Farm and all Alabama businesses who support the LGBT community.”
Amidst the growing fire over their product, Shirey Ice Cream Owner, Reese Shirey, issued the following statement on Tuesday.
Most of you know, Jack-O-Lantern Farms has removed Shirey Ice Cream from their store. Their stated reason was that they feared losing business by being associated with Shirey Ice Cream. Primarily they took issue with some of Garrett’s tweets where he explained his biblical-based convictions that show homosexuality to be sin. One could argue unendingly about the verbiage Garrett used but that’s really a sideline issue. The truth is, I agree with Garrett on these biblical convictions concerning human sexuality and the definition of marriage.
My brother, Garrett Shirey, is one of the best men and best Christians I know. It’s totally unfair and untrue when he has been called on social media a “hater” and a “bigot.” Garrett has worked regularly helping me in the business and always treats everyone the same regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender, or whatever. Garrett, Austin, and I are conservative evangelical Christians in doctrine and in our moral convictions. This is not a secret. Those with whom I’ve worked with closely know this.
Let me be very clear that my Christian principles require me to treat everyone with Christian love and respect. All are welcome to associate with Shirey Ice Cream as customers or as business collaborators. We have an impeccable record of treating all our customers and associates in this Christian spirit.
But it should be equally clear that I am not ashamed to claim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Though I am very imperfect and fail Him often, it’s my genuine heart’s desire to serve Him above all others. This includes holding to clear, biblical designations of many actions as sinful including adultery, lying, stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and others. We all struggle and all sin; I certainly do. But I want to humble myself and repent when I do and keep growing as a believer. I cannot, and will not, promote or celebrate that which God calls sin.
If this is cause for some to hate me and even work to destroy me and my business, so be it. I cannot and will not change. God is good and is sovereign, and may allow you success in hurting me. Then again, He may thwart your efforts and bless me. Either way, may He be served and praised.
Owner of Shirey Ice Cream