There's an old joke about the actress Sylvia Miles: When a waiter once asked if she wanted her coffee black, or with cream, she responds, "I like my coffee the way I like my men." The waiter says, "I'm sorry, we don't have any gay coffee here."
The idea of gay coffee was once pretty funny. Not today. Various right-wing groups are up in arms about the gay coffee being served at Starbucks.
Okay, so it's not the coffee. It's the stuff the coffee comes in -- the cups. Apparently, Starbucks is promoting the homosexual agenda with some of the words printed on these cups.
The particular cup that's currently annoying the rightwing quotes Armistead Maupin, author of the best-selling series Tales of the City. The books, which were made into an award-winning series on PBS, tell of pre-AIDS life in San Francisco. And the particular quote that offends the rightwing so much is: "I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short."
Hard to argue with that thought. But the right-wingers see subversion in it. In fact, Baylor University, a Baptist college in Texas, has ordered the campus Starbucks outlet to jettison all of its controversial cups -- not just the ones with the Maupin quote on it, but ALL of them, a form of book banning that rivals the totalitarian regime in Ray Bradbury's famous novel Fahrenheit 451 -- don't just burn the books you don't like, burn them all.
The Maupin cup is only one of 100, which is a far lower percentage than the number of gay men and women in America although, in all honesty, probably not at Baylor, which has a long history of persecuting gay students.
Other groups fighting the gay coffee cups include the far-right Republican group, the Concerned Women for America, which also has a long history of fighting gay rights. The spokesmen for the group (and yes, that's spokesman -- apparently the Concerned Women are composed of concerned men), Robert Knight, says "There are active homosexual groups in most major corporations now and they do a shake down, where they say, 'If you don't promote our events, you're exhibiting bigotry and hatred, and we're going to let everybody know that and you'll feel bad about yourself and maybe it will hurt your sales.'"
He adds that he doubts sales will be hurt. In fact, he is encouraging Concerned Women, and Men, and Children, to "visit your neighborhood Starbucks and ask to see the manager and just say, 'You know, I've gone here a lot and I would love to go here but I have to tell you your company's promotion of something that is against my values prevents me from having coffee here anymore, and I've found alternatives ... You make a great product, but you deserve to know why people aren't buying your product anymore.'"
Across the country, these far-right Republican organizations, rather than helping victims of Katrina, or fighting poverty, or doing anything at all to help the country, are making their top priority the need to change our coffee cups to fight the increasing homosexualization of American coffee.
Sounds like a joke. It's not.