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Lesbian Shop Owners Leave Florida Town After Official's Antigay Comments

Lesbian Shop Owners Leave Florida Town After Official's Antigay Comments

local store to the left and official who made homophobic comments to the right

The official ranted about discrimination against “fat people” when confronted at a town council meeting.

A lesbian couple in Florida said they are closing their small antique shop because of the treatment they received from one town official with a history of antigay comments.

Joy Drawdy told the local independent Alligator the response from locals was positive after she and her wife opened the Restless Mommas boutique store in the small town of Micanopy last summer. The town of fewer than 700 sits not far from Gainesville in the Florida panhandle and prides itself as the self-proclaimed antiques capital.

The first sign something was amiss was when the couple received a letter from the town stating the Pride flag flown outside their shop violated local ordinances. Drawdy said they complied with the request to remove the flag even though other stores flew flags that violated the same ordinances.

Drawdy said things took a decided turn for the worst when she heard from multiple secondhand sources that Micanopy Commissioner Mike Roberts had reportedly made derogatory comments about the couple’s sexual orientation. She said she heard of the alleged comments from around 30 townspeople.

“In such a small town, we couldn’t escape,” Drawdy told the Alligator. We couldn’t do business. It was all anybody was talking about.”

Roberts has made anti-LGBTQ+ comments on social media before. Including writing 10 years ago referring to queer people, "I just feel sorry for those people. A eternity in Hell is their reward. God please have mercy on their souls."

One of the comments left by Micanopy Commissioner Mike Roberts

In another post, Roberts wrote, "Homosexual is a sin . Sin will take you to the pits of Hell."

Eventually, random trucks would pull up outside their store, rev their engine, and then skid off. Drawdy also said spiteful comments appeared on the store's Facebook page.

When she and sympathetic business owners tried to put the issue up for discussion at a town commission meeting, they were assured the matter would be addressed, but town officials soon stopped returning Drawdy’s calls. Then just days before the meeting, officials told fellow business owner Amanda Gordon that since the reported comments were allegedly made by Roberts as a private citizen, they were not official town business.

“I really thought that they would say, ‘Yeah, of course that’s not OK,’” Drawdy told the Alligator. “The fact that they didn’t – it was our last breath.”

They moved two days before the scheduled town meeting.

Drawdy, Gordon, and a group of roughly 25 people packed the council meeting. They used the public comments portion of the meeting to raise the issue, which reportedly came as a surprise to some of the council members.

“To have two women invest in a business in this town — that helps us all — be discriminated against because they’re gay is not OK,” Micanopy resident Deborah Hart said, according to the outlet.

The discussion grew heated as Roberts claimed the matter was a misunderstanding of a conversation he had with a client of his insurance business regarding Medicare.

“Do you mean the two lesbian women who bought a business downtown?” he claimed he said when asked if he knew the Drawdys.

When local shop owner and attorney Holiday Russell, suggested sensitivity training for the commission members, Roberts exploded.

“You know the most discriminated person sitting in this room? Disliked by whites, Blacks, reds, and yellows?” Roberts asked the room. “The fat people of this world.”

Town resident Carol Young, 78, said that the officials' comments that the alleged comments not being Micanopy's concern weren't okay.

“I think it is town business when you run people off,” she said.

Drawdy said she holds no hard feelings for Micanopy, saying she was just concerned about her family's safety. They are moving their unsold inventory to another store they own in Gainesville.

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