Boycott of “El Coyote” is Shortsighted
The recent efforts to boycott Los Angeles’ historic El Coyote Mexican Cafe remind me of the Coors beer embargo in the late 90s. The gay community was largely in support of the boycott, but at HERO Magazine, we took some heat for accepting advertising from Coors when it was demonstrated that the company (as distinct from the Coors family) was actually very supportive of LGBT causes.
The best result for an LGBT boycott of El Coyote would be a real apology by the co-owner, Marjorie Christofferson, coupled with an action that shows she’s sincere (e.g., a big donation to the Lambda Legal Defense Fund). A manager at El Coyote told me that the restaurant already plans to make hefty donations (a $10,000 figure was volleyed) to Lambda Legal and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
But I wouldn’t hold your breath for an outright apology from Ms. Christofferson, a lifelong Mormon. She made it clear to me that she would not apologize for her faith, nor could she change her convictions. “I will not [make a contribution to repeal Prop. 8],” she said. “I cannot change a lifetime of faith.”
The gay community is angry about the passage of Prop. 8, and we have a right to be. We have a right to demonstrate, and yes—even a right to boycott. We can bring giants down if we want to. But I submit that an El Coyote boycott isn’t the right place to put our energy right now.
I personally was moved to tears in the meeting with Christofferson because I understand the deep conflict that her religious convictions can cause. I grew up in Utah, raised by both Mormons and Catholics, and I lost many of my friends after coming out to them 12 years ago. So I could empathize with Marjorie, who was clearly conflicted on the issue. But a boycott would probably put El Coyote out of business and 89 families out of work. Is that the best strategy for winning those undecided minds to our cause? And when the business is gone, then what?
I am in no way advocating that we sit back and go along the Mormon Church’s unacceptable involvement in California politics. But Marjorie Christofferson is not the Mormon Church, she is one person of faith within that church. And now her business is in trouble—she is more aware than ever that her actions have consequences.
Ask yourself: Is there any amount of money she could donate to our cause that would quell our anger? I doubt it. It goes much, much deeper than a $100 campaign contribution. —Sam Page