This is one of those reasons LEO was started in 1990.
On Monday, Sunergos Coffee called LEO to ask that the paper no longer be distributed at its shops. The business has since cited the “family-friendly” environment of its shops and “the increasingly sexually explicit content and advertising.” The call was made before we published our Valentine’s Day issue, featuring four recently-married couples. On the cover was a beautiful picture of one couple, two women, kissing. It embodied the story inside.
So, it is unfortunate that the shops’ customers will miss the story of these beautiful families.
LEO’s removal has sparked a public controversy on Facebook and Twitter, as people wondered whether the coffee shop was reacting to our Valentine’s Day story. This is intended to provide facts and context.
We’ve been thrown out of plenty of establishments before, and we will undoubtedly be tossed out again. But we definitely won’t stop printing stories and photographs that reflect the community, and those that provoke discussions on important issues. We also will not stop running ads from legal businesses, including those that provide adult entertainment. LEO has been running those since its first issues. In fact, LEO runs significantly fewer adult-oriented ads today than it has in the past (much to our dismay).
While we disagree and are disappointed with the coffee business’ decision, we feel it is important to defend its right to carry, or not carry, any publication it chooses. We also want to make sure that the business is not unjustly criticized for dropping us because of this issue, or the beautiful cover.
There. That’s the story.
Now, you can decide where you want to buy your coffee… that is how this works. And on behalf of LEO: We understand if you don’t care, and you just want some coffee. Believe me, we know about just needing some coffee!
LEO’s overriding mission is to start conversations.
We are not the only media outlet telling the stories of LGBTQ couples getting married, or advertising legal, adult clubs and shops. But we belong to the alternative-weekly news bloodline, and, accordingly, we will not water down stories, or blur images, for the sake of comfort. We want to expose readers to the world they may not know about. If you read LEO and are made uncomfortable, upset, moved or enthused, then we have done our damn job.
Finally, to the people at Sunergos: Understand the message you are sending to your “family-friendly” patrons. You have determined what is suitable/acceptable for your community. By covering the eyes of those who patronize your establishment, you do them no favors. You are blinding them to the realities of the world around them.
If you find an image or ad offensive, or Savage Love to be gratuitous … join the club! But burying your head in the coffee beans will not save you from the real world. Ignoring what’s different leads to only more ignorance.
We sincerely invite you to have us back in your shops. We believe that, together, we can help each other make our community a warmer, better place to live.