Cracker Barrel is the latest brand facing a boycott over celebrating Pride month. Cracker Barrel received backlash for proudly announcing that the restaurant chain with southern comfort food was vowing to push DEI initiatives with an LGBTQ+ alliance.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store shared a post honoring Pride month on its official social media accounts on Thursday. The post featured a photo of a rainbow-colored version of the chain’s iconic rocking chair sitting on the porch. The photo had the caption: “We are excited to celebrate Pride month with our employees and guests. Everyone is always welcome at our table (and our rainbow rocker). Happy Pride!”
The post was shared on the company’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. A majority of the reactions on Facebook approved of the post; however, there were thousands of social media users who railed against the Pride month messaging. Dozens of users vowed to boycott the restaurant chain.
Users asked that the restaurant chain stay out of politics and “stick to biscuits and gravy.” Others threatened to boycott Cracker Barrel and never eat at the restaurant again for promoting “woke” ideologies.
On the Cracker Barrel website, the southern restaurant chain boasted about the company’s “LGBTQ+ Alliance” and “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Team.”
On behalf of Cracker Barrel’s LGBTQ+ Alliance & DEIB Team, we want to celebrate YOU for being YOU. It is our greatest Mission to ensure that Pleasing People means “all people.” LGBTQ+ Pride month each June is an important time to reflect on the Stonewall Riots that began on June 28, 1969, evoking activists to demand change for the LGBTQ+ community in America. As June prompts us to reflect on the core values of PRIDE: People/Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity, and Excellence, Cracker Barrel believes these are core pillars that should guide our decisions year-round.
The restaurant added, “This year Cracker Barrel’s focus was to be part of the Pride experience.”
The Tennessee-based restaurant touts the company’s “Business Resource Groups” which “allow employees to come together with common interests, perspectives, and experiences around topics such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, and other special interests, space to be a community.”
Cracker Barrel has several special interest groups within the organization, including:
- LGBTQ+ Alliance: “Supporting Home Office and Field employees to bring their whole selves to work while strengthening Cracker Barrel’s relationship to the LGBTQ+ community.”
- Be Bold: “The mission of Be Bold is to cultivate and develop Black Leaders within the Cracker Barrel organization utilizing allyship, mentorship, and education to create a path to continued excellence as well as a vibrant and diverse community.”
- HOLA: “HOLA’s mission is to promote Hispanic and Latino culture through hiring, developing, and retaining talent within Cracker Barrel. To create a culture of inclusivity and awareness through community outreach.”
- Women’s Connect: “Our mission & goal is to inspire the women of Cracker Barrel by empowering, educating and engaging to achieve the strategic initiatives of Cracker Barrel.”
In 1991, Cracker Barrel faced another controversy when at least nine homosexual employees were fired for their sexual orientation.
The Los Angeles Times previously reported, “The chain recently issued a policy that cited ‘traditional American values’ and declared that it ‘is perceived to be inconsistent with those of our customer base to continue to employ individuals in our operating units whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values which have been the foundation of families in our society.'”
Cracker Barrel later admitted that the decision may have been an “overreaction to the perceived values of our customers.” The restaurant chain brought back the employees who had been terminated.
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