WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. - A Kentucky barbecue business is getting some heat over its T-shirts for sale that play on the LGBTQ acronym, with many calling the merchandise bigoted and hateful.
Belle’s Smokin BBQ recently promoted its shirts on social media that are emblazoned with the slogan, “I support LGBTQ - Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ."
Jamie Smith, owner of the business which operates out of a food truck based in Williamstown, told FOX 19 he started selling the T-shirts nearly two years ago.
“I found the acronym on Facebook and I just added the Q,” Smith told the station. Smith said he sold nearly 100 shirts before deciding to advertise them on Facebook.
The post began racking up negative reactions in the comments, with many calling the T-shirts a “bigoted” misappropriation of the “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer" slogan and saying it alienates potential customers in the LGBTQ community.
One user wrote, “Simple BIGOTRY... sad commentary for a business.. good luck going broke!”
Another commented in part, “GLBTQ are already waking up every day with a mountain to climb in terms of acceptance. The last thing we need is a food truck mocking us.”
Other Facebook users expressed how they didn’t find the shirt offensive and asked where they could buy one.
After the post became flooded with mostly negative comments, Belle's Smokin BBQ removed it from Facebook and replaced it with an apology, FOX 19 reported.
The statement also called out some individuals who found the shirts offensive and hateful, yet simultaneously made threats and sent harassing messages to the business.
“Belle’s Smoking BBQ apologizes if we have offended any groups, organizations or individuals with our shirts,” the statement to FOX 19 reads. “We respect all beliefs and lifestyles and want no ill will towards anyone. We know each person has their own thoughts and beliefs but we are hurt that the people who are saying, ‘stop the hate’ are the ones coming at us with the harassing messages and threatening phone calls. Again we apologize for any hurt feelings and thank our supporters who truly know us."
Smith told FOX 19 the business is his livelihood, and while he doesn’t like the negative attention he has received, the company will continue to sell the shirts.
“At the end of the day, we gotta stand for what we believe in, and like I said, if this has offended anyone, that wasn’t our intention. But, it’s just a good play on words,” Smith told FOX 19.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.