By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com September 27 2013 12:30 PM ET
A flurry of petitions from LGBT people and straight allies have been posted online, in protest of the antigay remarks made by the chairman of pasta-maker Barilla earlier this week.
“I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual couple, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them,” said Guido Barilla, igniting a firestorm of controversy. “Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role. … If [gays] don't like it, they can go eat another brand.”
Linda Ferraro, an Italian-American mother, posted a petition on Change.org that countered Barilla’s definition of a “classic family.” Ferraro, whose son is gay, wrote that she would boycott the pasta brand and urged the grocery chain Stop & Shop to do the same.
“I have a newsflash for Guido Barilla: I am proud of my gay son and we are a traditional family,” Ferraro wrote. “Even though my sons are adults now, no one messes with any of my boys. I shop at Stop & Shop, and now that I dumped Barilla, I think they should, too. Please join me and urge Stop & Shop to take Barilla off their shelves.”
Beth Allen, a lesbian mother of two children, advocated for a boycott of the pasta brand on Moveon.org. Her petition, which expressed outrage over Barilla's comments, had received over 15,000 signatures at the time of this article’s posting.
“My family, and especially my 12-year-old son, eats a lot of pasta,” Allen wrote. “We often choose Barilla Pasta because of the wide variety available at our local grocery store. No more. Today Barilla Pasta President Guido Barilla made it clear how he felt about families like mine by saying that he'd never show gay families in advertisements for Barilla.”
Dario Fo, an Italian Nobel Prize winner, posted a petition on Change.org that provided an alternative to a boycott. Fo, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, urged Barilla to “make amends” for the offensive remarks and to create a commercial that features LGBT families.
“Guido, your company has come to define Italy — an Italy that is also made of unmarried couples, extended families, and families with LGBT parents,” Fo wrote. “I ask you, Guido, to reflect the true Italy of today and become an ambassador of equality and a voice of the present."
Fo revealed that he had written and acted for Barilla television commercials in the 1950s, which helped launch the brand. He recalled Guido Barilla's father, “a person full of creativity and intelligence, with a passion for arts and culture,” and urged his son to create an advertising campaign “where the family can finally be represented in all its infinite and wonderful shapes of our times.”