This weekend, a Virginia business came under fire after one of the owners posted an anti-LGBTQ+ message to social media.
On Saturday morning, Cherie's Antique Emporium posted an update to its Facebook page that began as an update on the business, but devolved into anti-trans bigotry. The store, owned by Keith Mindel and Cherie Hall and located in Mechanicsville, near Richmond, has a history of posting controversial messages on its page, but none has gained as much attention as Saturday's post.
"Good morning," the post started. "It is Saturday and we are hoping for a great day. We have lots of new furniture arriving next Tuesday as well as many other treasures...."
The post then took a turn, taking aim at Lia Thomas, the 24-year-old University of Pennsylvania swimmer. She recently became the first known transgender athlete to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I championship.
"I am still upset with the situation where a biological male was allowed to compete against females in swimming competitions...," the post reads. "Feel bad for the girls who have worked so hard and now are having their hopes crushed by a political agenda that allows them to be cheated out of the fruits of all of their hard work. Shame on the political agitators that are using our children to promote alternative life styles as normal!"
The screed continued, "If God gave you Boy's plumbing, you use the Boy's bathroom, Girl's plumbing, the Girl's bathroom! Period, end of sentence, no exceptions! Just because these liberal idiots yell and scream the loudest, doesn't mean that they have any power. Stand up and fight back."
"Let's not just make America Great Again, let's make America America Again! The Flag, Mom, and Apple Pie...Not Gays, Transgenders, and Cow Pies! These people belong in our country just like anyone else, but they are a very small fraction of our population and need to live their lives with that realization!"
The post was written by Mindel.
"Cherie has never written a post for us," Mindel wrote on Facebook to the onslaught of negative attention.
"They kept calling me she which just further illustrates their total confusion when it comes to gender," Mindel wrote Sunday morning on his personal Facebook page and the page for the store. He went on, mentioning that over 14,000 users read the post when generally they have about 700 viewers.
He defended the missive writing, "I am entitled to my opinion."
A public records search of the Virginia State Corporation Commission revealed that Raymond Keith Mindel has an active insurance agent license which he has held since 1989. According to records reviewed by The Advocate, Mindel represents health insurance policies for Carefirst Bluechoice, Inc., and annuities, accident, and life insurance for United American Insurance Company.
By Sunday afternoon, the post had garnered hundreds of comments, mostly criticizing the message. Hundreds of users have called for a boycott of the business with some calling for it to be inundated with rainbow flags, while others are calling for it to be shut down.
A user by the name of Justin Ryan wrote, “Sweetie, your business is about to be bombarded by rainbow flags and I really can’t wait.”
Facebook user Tim Larson wrote, "Lady, try turning off Fox News and instead try changing the world by actually getting to know people and engage with your customers and neighbors. All that Tucker Carlson is teaching you is how to hate and be angry about things that don't even affect you." Mindel previously wrote they had blocked over 300 “libtards” for criticisms.
Saturday wasn't the first time that the business' Facebook page contained intolerant remarks about LGBTQ+ people.
On Thursday, another post on the store's Facebook page also targeted Thomas and trans communities at large, calling them an "abomination."
"There are only 2 genders and anything else is a freak show! For each of these creatures that are not satisfied with the ‘plumbing’ that God gave them, then in order to compete as a woman, there should be a required dismemberment of the offending member before the race starts... This freak has had his 15 minutes of fame and now it is time for him to go back into the closet."
The Advocate reached out to Mindel, but the number listed for his insurance business rang busy most of Sunday.
When reached for comment by The Advocate, a person who answered the phone at Cherie's Antique Emporium and would not identify himself when asked for by name said, "We don't take phone calls like this," and hung up.
In a prior call to the number for the store, a person answered and identified themselves as “Hanover County Sheriff’s Office,” before hanging up.
The Advocate was able to speak with Hall, who confirmed her name, but claimed that she couldn't hear and hung up after being told who was calling.
"You'll have to call me back; I can hardly hear you," Hall said before she abruptly hung up. She did not answer several subsequent calls.
The Advocate reached out to spokespeople for the insurance division of the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Carefirst, and United American Insurance Company for comment on Mindel's status as an insurance agent but did not hear back by the time of publication.
We will update this story if we hear back.