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Hilarious LGBT-Friendly Billboard for NH Coffeehouse Sparks Controversy

Thursday Jul 13, 2017

Not everyone finds this gay-friendly billboard advertisement for a coffeehouse in Somersworth, New Hampshire hilarious, The Huffington Post reports.

To celebrate Pride with a little humor last month, Teatotaller Cafe, which calls itself "an oasis of queer, hipster, tea, coffee, and pastry goodness," put up a billboard advertising their establishment, showing a young man wearing a small, tight pink shirt, jean short-shorts and pink sneakers. He's seen laying in a seductive pose, holding what appears to be a sandwich with his mouth open. The text on the ad reads, "I like my men like i like my coffee. With breakfast at Teatotaller."

The backlash started on June 27 when the Facebook page for Somersworth Now, a local news site for the town, shared a photo of the billboard, writing, "I'm interested to see what others opinions on this billboard that appeared on West High street are. Please be respectful to others when commenting."

A number of the Facebook commenters took issue with the image.

"Disgusting," one person wrote.

"Very poor choice of advertising. Gross to be honest with you. This type of advertising belongs maybe on a porn site or magazine," another wrote.

One Facebook user started his comment off positively but it quickly went south:

"I have zero issue with the restaurant. I have zero issue with this being a man posing. I have zero issue with any ones personal sexual preference. However, I do have issue with men trying to act like women - what is the need for the make up and the pose to reflect one of a female? The same is true for women that dress and act like men. Everyone has heard the term butch and knows what it references. Having to explain to my child why the man looks like a lady is something I did not want to do, but had to because of this. She knows men can love men, woman can love woman, man and woman can love each other. Having to try to explain why a man wants to look like a woman is a little much to have to explain to my child at this age."

The model pictured on the cafe's ad responded to the backlash in the comments, defending the billboard and himself.

"As I am the person featured in this ad, all I have to say is times are changing and your views need to be changing with them," Michael Cummings, 18, wrote. "This ad is quirky, fun and expressive, and hopefully will be an inspiration to the youth of Somersworth to continually be true to themselves and live the life they want."

"Some of you may not get this and that's okay, but I urge you to see it from a different point of view and open your mind to new things," he went on to say. "Hope all the residents in Somersworth that may disagree with this ad will continue to show me respect and love, as I always try to do to you all."

In an email to HuffPo, Teatotaller's co-owners Emmett Soldati and Palana Belken stood by the billboard.

"From our modest beginnings in 2011, Teatotaller has sought to inspire, excite, and engage a community of citizens looking for vibrancy and decadence. We are a venue for everyone looking for cosmopolitan flair in a sleepy town," Soldati and Belken said.

They added they've received positive feedback from customers, regarding the billboard.

"Over the course of our history, this has included embracing the weird, the eccentric, and the queer," they said. "Going against the tide of establishments one might expect in a small working-class downtown, Teatotaller has always 'stuck its neck out' and stood up for the values and aesthetics it admires."

The duo also lauded Cummings, praising him for his "self-confidence, flair and fabulousness."

"Like Teatotaller, Michael is a product of Somersworth - not some external influence," they told HuffPo. "This is what has made the project so special."

Read Somersworth Now's post below.


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