A Wyoming bar is facing criticism for selling T-shirts that seem to be advocating for violence against the LGBTQ community.
Eagle’s Nest, a bar in Cheyenne, was selling shirts that read: “In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS, we shoot f----n' f-----s,” and featured the image of a man holding a pistol aimed at the viewer.
Raymond Bereziuk, the owner of the bar, has yet to comment on the controversy, but speaking to The Cheyenne Post on Monday, he said that the shirts were sold out and he has no plans of selling more.
He stated that he was "in the bar business, not the apparel business."
Wyoming Equality, an LGBTQ advocacy group, posted a picture of one of the shirts on their Facebook page on Saturday, with the profanity and homophobic slur blacked out.
The group captioned the post: "We are sad to say that we failed to convince a local bar to pull these shirts from circulation. We hoped that they would choose to stop selling them when they realized the harm it did to the LGBTQ community and those living with AIDS."
The post did not name the business, stating: "We do not want them to gain notoriety/ sell more shirts off the pain of our community." The group however asked people to consider supporting their work by donating to the group, or by supporting the nonprofit organization Wyoming AIDS Assistance.
One person commented on the post, asking the group to consider contacting alcohol distributors to “see if they are OK with working with an establishment selling these types of items.”
The organization responded, “Our friends at the Human Rights Campaign are helping us with this.”
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, released a statement to the Casper Star-Tribune condemning the shirts: “It’s incredibly disheartening to learn that any business would offer a product for sale with a message like this. This hurtful rhetoric is not reflective of our state’s values, and does nothing but promote hate and division.”
Cheyenne is located just less than an hour from Laramie, where gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten to death in 1998, sparking nationwide protests and vigils.
Shepard's murder sparked the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009. The Act provides funding to state, local and tribal jurisdictions to help in the investigation and prosecution of crimes motivated by bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, among other protected classes.
Sources: NBC News