By Ran Aubrey Frazier
Originally published on Advocate.com March 17 2014 4:18 PM ET
The Barilla pasta company is off the hot seat, according to an illustrated editorial that ran in Sunday's New York Times — but is it really?
Titled "Planet Pasta: Field Trip to the World's Largest Pasta Maker," the editorial slide show by illustrator Nicholas Blechman, art director of The New York Times Book Review, provides background on Barilla's founding and its current operations, and describes the author's visit to the production facility in Parma, Italy.
One of the slides within the 21-slide feature depicts two pieces of bow-tie pasta holding hands while one waves a rainbow flag. A piece of penne towers over them, screaming profanities. Text below this image provides historic context for readers, stating, "Guido Barilla, the company's chairman, set off a firestorm last September by suggesting gay families did not represent his company's values, prompting a boycott." The text continues, "He has since apologized, and the boycott has ended."
The next slide in Blechman's slide show features an image of suggested packaging for future Barilla products, given "the new market." Among these new pastas are "transgender tortellini," "bisexual bucatini," and "lesbian linguine."
The two slides refer to an ongoing controversy that began when Barilla's chairman told an Italian radio show, "I would never do an advert with a homosexual family. … If the gays don’t like it, they can go an eat another brand." He further stated, "For us, the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”
Barilla went on to denounce adoption by gays, declaring, "I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose."
Citing "the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family," Barilla apologized shortly after he made these controversial statements and agreed to meet with representatives of those groups offended by his remarks. In November Barilla announced a new diversity and inclusion board, made up of "external experts and advocates who will help Barilla establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture with regard to sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights and multicultural and intergenerational issues."
But perhaps the Times piece is a bit premature. Pink News, Europe's largest gay news service, reports that Barilla has produced zero gay-friendly campaigns to date.