CHEYENNE – A Cheyenne bar that was criticized for selling a T-shirt that contained an offensive term has decided to no longer stock the item, the business owner said this week.
The Eagle’s Nest, a bar that primarily caters to motorcyclists, was roundly criticized on social media over the weekend when a photo of a shirt the bar sold began circulating. Many commenters opposed what they called the shirt’s violent imagery and use of a derogatory term for homosexuals.
The shirt features a man pointing a pistol and reads “In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS, we shoot f—–’n f—–s.”
However the bar’s owner told The Cheyenne Post on Monday that the shirts had sold out and he had no intention of getting any more.
Ray Bereziuk told The Cheyenne Post that he is “in the bar business, not the apparel business,” and that he would not be reordering the shirts.
It wasn’t clear how long the bar had been selling the shirts.
Over the weekend, pro-LGBTQ organization Wyoming Equality asked the bar to stop selling the shirts, but the staff refused.
The shirt also drew the criticism of a state legislator as offering a message contrary to the state’s actual attitudes.
State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, said that although he supports the bar staff’s freedom of speech to sell such shirts, all involved should be aware that consequences exist for selling such goods.
“This shirt is despicable and does not represent Wyoming in any way shape or form,” Brown told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “In a time where we need to grow our economy and welcome new industries to our state, this type of action causes consequences, not only for the bar, but our state as a whole. Businesses see this type of action in Wyoming and don’t even blink when offered options in our state. I’m disappointed and frankly I’m hurt that anyone in Wyoming feels this way against EITHER of the communities named in the shirt. I stand in solidarity with those affected and condemn the sale of such an egregious and irresponsible item.”
In a news release issued Monday afternoon, Wyoming Equality Executive Director Sara Burlingame said she didn’t immediately want to draw attention to the existence of the shirts because she feared “the sad reality that giving them exposure will help them sell more shirts. I’m not in the business of helping bigots make money off of the pain of my community.”
After the picture of the shirt appeared in multiple places on social media, Burlingame said she approached the bar again and asked them to remove the shirts, and they refused.
“Wyoming Equality tries to make the case every day that we are warm, we are welcoming, and families and businesses should make their home in the Equality State. Messages like the one on this shirt underscore how important it is that we pass hate-crime legislation, support those living with HIV and maintain the fight to make Wyoming the home we all deserve.”
The response from the business community and Wyoming leaders was strong and swift. Domenic Bravo, the director of Visit Cheyenne, said in the release, “Every year, the city welcomes close to 3 million visitors from every walk of life. They come to Cheyenne and discover the history of equality, ingenuity and hospitality in our city and state. This type of shirt does not represent the community we live in.”
Wyoming AIDS President Scott Cheney said, “For 19 years, Wyoming AIDS Assistance has seen the power of communities coming together to raise money and erase stigma for Wyomingites living with HIV/AIDS. This shirt is not only disgusting and degrading, but it is phenomenally damaging to the image of Wyoming as a whole. We have to be better than this.”