It’s Worth Exploring by Samuel Cole

January 30, 2012 Comments Off on It’s Worth Exploring by Samuel Cole

It was the first openly gay restaurant in downtown Minneapolis aptly named GAY RESTAURANT, located across the street from the two largest gay bars in Minnesota. I mean, the Chinese have theirs. Mexicans. Italians. Germans. Polish. Vietnamese. Jews. Ethiopians. Even one Senor Frog. As an openly gay entrepreneur, I felt time had come to reach out and feed all the fabulous foodie fags like me and their tag-a-long-hags like mine. The neon sign blinking over the front door proudly announced straights are welcome too. It was that kind of place.

The grand opening coincided with the annual PRIDE festival in Loring Park, well within walking distance. The Minneapolis Star and Tribune wrote, “In name alone, it is lecherously cliché, but the food is delightful and the serving staff, creatively named after gay icons, is a hoot and a half.”

We served up fun appetizers: Twinkie fries, husky bear claws, hot-top monster dogs, bottomless boneless wings, and the colossal onion laser peel served on an oversized Botox coupon, buy one pint get another pint free at Laser Peels, Inc. The large portion lunch and dinner entrees included: The Out & Proud (served on pumpernickel if sourdough sounded homophobic); The Here, Queer, So Delicious Reuben; The finger-snapping-salmon; The Cher-broiled Chicken Linguini; The RuPaul Bunyan Brisket; The Elton Smelting John; and The Right-to-Wed Waldorf Astoria salad accompanied by our bartenders’ greatest creations: The Pink Triangle-tini; The Same Sex on the Beach; Cocks between the Sheets; The Quadruple Screaming Orgasm; The Cosmo Climax; and The Woo Woo Waterloo.

The introductory TV commercial touted, “Leave nobody out. Bring everyone in. Flirt a little bit if you want to, it’s fun.” I felt like the perfect spokesman.

On the back of the rainbow-colored menu housed a smorgasbord of informational tidbits for anyone interested in light reading before or after mealtime: where to get tested, open and affirming churches, and the history of Stonewall. Every individual, gay, straight, or somewhere in between, were welcome: Calling all demographics. We’re talking Uber-inclusive stuff. Totally bi-partisan. Friday night comics. Tuesday afternoon balloonists. Thursday evening karaoke. Sunday poetry brunch-fest.

But the gay community took insult. They hated it in fact. One gay rights activist wrote in a local gay rights magazine, “Please respectfully refuse to patron an establishment so utterly stereotypical and blatantly offensive as to call us out for profit, purchase, and parody.”

A spokesman for OutFront Midwest told three news anchors, “This restaurant typifies the shallow greed of one clueless individual who seeks to exploit an already exploited group of people.”

The Minnesota HRC Chairman told a food critic at Minnesota Mindset Magazine, “To serve moderately tasty food on the broken backs of the GLBT community, GAY RESTAURANT shines as a flaming beacon of what never to do, or say, or be.”

And then they wonder why no one takes us seriously.

© 2011 Samuel Cole

Samuel Cole loves to run, photograph old lanterns, play piano, hang with friends, and of course, write. Often, his eardrums pop from so much creative thinking. You can read more about him at

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