An Oklahoma restaurant owner's open bigotry—against gays, ethnic minorities, and disabled people, to name a few—has inspired an online movement that has turned Chicaro Club into an Internet sensation.
After owner Gary James of Enid, Okla., rejected a handicapped customer, KFOR-TV News Channel Four released an interview that sparked a Yelp-driven retaliation.
James made it clear in the interview that in addition to disabled patrons and other minority groups, he specifically refuses to serve homosexuals.
“I really don't want gays around,” James said in the interview. “Any man that would compromise his body would compromise anything.”
James, casually leaning against the table, continued the interview with coarse and smug remarks.
“I’ve been in business 44 years; I think I can spot a freak or a f— —,” he added, using a gay slur.
Human rights activists took to writing charming and colorful Yelp reviews in a viral backlash to James’ offensive language. Sarcastic and entertaining tales of his liberal and free-loving personality first sprouted on the website after the interview's broadcast last week.
“This is your all-American melting pot gay bar, so make sure you have plenty of singles,” Vicky from San Francisco wrote.
The nearly 150 mock reviews that have been posted in the last two days, and that have slowly been filtered out by the site, drip with comical passive aggression—a tone that's echoed on a fake Facebook page for the Chicaro Club that links directly to the Enid LGBT Coalition.
“Gary has truly outdone himself with the flamboyant, free atmosphere in his place. If you're a strapping young lad in search of your next sugar daddy, Gary is the man for you,” another Yelper posted.
Others took a more serious approach to social media as a public forum. Chicaro Club’s first Yelp review, written in late January by Michelle of Fairview, Okla., read:
The owner, Gary James, refuses to serve wheelchair bound persons, black people, Hispanics, mixed race couples, gay people, people who wear hats, people who ask for Budweiser, liberals, men with longish hair, people wearing clothes he doesn't approve of, people with facial piercings, on and on, ad nauseum.
James’ outspoken and distasteful opinions have gained the attention of Oklahoma news outlets in the past; he ran for the Enid City Council in 2009.
“I don’t like girlie men. I’m not fond of men with all kinds of metal in their face,” he told Enid News at the time. “My customers don’t want them around, and I don’t want them around. I don’t consider that racist.”
The Chicaro Club even sells custom-made T-shirts bearing a bull's-eye, with various ethnic, religious, and political groups within the target. On the front, the shirt reads: “Where the Great Whites Gather."
TakePart was unable to reach James for comment.
Despite his disdain for minorities and “the all-in-your-face and a limp wrist” attitude, James manages to marginalize his customer demographic even further with one final demand.
“I have one rule that does away with 95 percent of the trash,” he said. “If they are rude enough to wear a hat inside a building, I don’t want them here.”