The company paid a big price in lost customers and angry reaction. It's reminiscent of nothing so much as the reaction to those who weren't sufficiently segregationist in the 1950s and 1960s.
Hostile letters and e-mails poured into the company from customers canceling their business and demanding to be removed from its e-mail list. “I understand that your company donated $250,000 or so to the effort to ban the marriage amendment,” read one. “I am very concerned that with an increased visibility and acceptance of the gay and lesbian lifestyle, one of my children, who would have grown up and been happily married to a husband, could be tempted to the lesbian lifestyle.”
The reaction went beyond the misinformed.
Mr. Spainhour said he worried about Mr. Page’s safety, and has discussed his concerns with him. He mentioned Charles C. Worley, pastor of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., not far from Greensboro, who preached on May 13 that lesbians and gays should be separated from each other and society and quarantined behind electrified fences. “In a few years, they’ll die out,” Mr. Worley said. “They can’t reproduce.” Video of the sermon circulated on the Internet.
The best part of the story comes toward the end, in a profile of the company leader, Bob Page, who is gay.
Mr. Page, 67, said he doesn’t like politics and isn’t “extreme,” or “in your face” about being gay. But, he added: “I just refuse to hide. I did that way too many years and it’s just not healthy.”
At the same time, he said: “I’m always concerned I will hurt our business. I know we have lost business. But I don’t have a board or shareholders I have to answer to. My life is not about money.”
Page grew up poor on a tobacco farm and was a faithful United Church of Christ attendee. “I prayed that God would not make me this way,” he said. He went to college, served in Vietnam and eventually made peace with who he was. He found a partner and they've provided a home to adopted twins. Most of his family was supportive when he came out, though a sister and her children "think I and my partner are going to hell."
He has no regrets about speaking out and spending money. Need some china or crystal? Try Replacements Ltd. I already had, but had no idea about this remarkable man until recently.