Chefs Host Event in NYC to Protest Anti-Gay Mississippi Law

In Depth

What are decent-minded human beings to do when your state passes an unbelievably shitty law, no one seems to notice, and you feel like protesting? For a few Chefs, the answer is “prepare delicious food served with a generous side portion of Fuck You to the Mississippi state government.”

You may have heard that Mississippi recently passed an updated version of the attempted “turn away the gays” laws that failed so spectacularly in Arizona, Kansas, and other states. Or maybe you hadn’t; I wasn’t aware that the GOP had tried again until I started writing this. I mean, we should’ve expected it — Snidely Whiplash didn’t stop tying women to the train tracks after they’d stopped him once. Regardless, the Mississippi bill is a bit more insidious than previous incarnations, because it doesn’t specifically mention LGBT individuals or any other group. Instead, it “prohibits the state from compelling any action contrary to a person’s exercise of religion.” This vague wording could absolutely be used to refuse service to LGBT folks. OK, so it’s not as bad as a bill that literally allowed doctors, policemen, and firefighters to deny life-saving services to LGBT individuals purely on the basis that Jesus ain’t down with that queer stuff (and it has roughly a 100% chance of being obliterated once the inevitable lawsuit reaches the Supreme Court thanks to Anthony Kennedy being all about the gay rights decisions), but it’s still pretty freaking bad.

So Chefs John Currence (Oxford, MS), Kelly English (Memphis, TN), and Art Smith (Chicago, IL) decided to respond by hosting the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table in Central Park. The dinner itself is going to involve a “unique menu of traditional – yet progressive, modern and open-minded – southern fare.” That’s such a polite yet clever way of giving Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant the middle finger than I’m honestly wondering if any of these Chefs are Canadian.

This event isn’t apropos of nothing. As the New York Times reports, for 35 years, New Yorkers and displaced Mississippians have gathered in Central Park for the Annual Mississippi Picnic to sing the virtues of Mississippi (Mississippi has virtues other than the existence of John Currence?). It’s also a slightly bigger deal in Mississippi than you might think, since Currence, the driving force behind the event, is probably the best-known Chef within the state. The Chefs have also invited Governor Bryant and Marlo Dorsey, Chief Marketing Officer of the Mississippi Development Authority, to the event, though — shockingly — neither has been willing to comment.

Look, sad, bigoted people: I know it’s hard. The country is changing. No longer are you allowed to beat LGBT individuals to death just because they prefer their partner’s genital configuration to be different from what you consider acceptable. It’s looking more and more like you won’t be able to deny them the right to get married, or be allowed to fire them just because you think your religion tells them to. I get it. It’s so hard to be straight in American society. I feel for you — except, you know, the opposite of that, because fuck you.

The time will soon arrive when you don’t get to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation in any legal capacity, and fifty years from now America will be as collectively embarrassed of you as we are about Bull Conner. Our grandchildren will wonder how the fuck this issue was ever up for debate, and there is nothing — repeat, NOTHING — you can do to stop that. History marches on, and you might as well spit at the coming tide for all the good it’ll do you.

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