Yesterday afternoon, 28-year-old Dave Mullins and 31-year-old Charlie Craig stopped by Lakewood's Masterpiece Cakeshop to order their wedding reception cake -- what they hoped would be a rainbow-layered masterpiece decked out in teal and red frosting (their ceremony colors). Although they'll be reciting their vows in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in September, the couple plans to celebrate with a reception for friends and family in Denver in October. But after bakery owner Jack Phillips listened to their request, they say, he refused it. His business doesn't create cakes for gay weddings.
"It was the most awkward, surreal, very brief encounter," Mullins says. "We got up to leave, and to be totally honest, I said, 'Fuck you and your homophobic cake shop.' And I may or may not have flipped him off."
Mullins posted his reaction on Facebook, from where it branched to web sites such as Wipe Out Homophobia, creating a minor Internet frenzy. Since then, similar stories about the shop have surfaced, and Yelp reviewers have written more than sixty comments expressing disgust. There is now a Facebook-organized protest of the business underway and an online petition with signatures from several states and countries.
On the phone with Westword this morning, a Masterpiece staff member commented only, "We have nothing to say about that."
But are the accusations of discrimination true? "We don't want to talk about that, so you'll just have to make something up."What's not made up have been other tales about Masterpiece, like this one:
"I feel I need to disclose to anyone with an 'alternative' lifestyle, that this company does not want your business, as they do not participate in making cakes for 'illegal' things, such as a commitment ceremony (exact quote)," Yelp user Samantha S. recounted. "All we wanted was a cake, and I totally respect the right to refuse service, (but) I feel obligated to help anyone else avoid what was an incredibly awkward situation by selecting this place for your services. That is simply it (right, wrong or indifferent). Nothing more, nothing less."
But Masterpiece did extend a different offer: "They did say over the phone later, that if someone like me wanted a birthday cake, or something unlike a wedding cake, that they would take our order."
Some online commentors have advocated violence against Masterpiece, but Mullins says he and Craig "do not condone shit-throwing, bombs or any kind of crazy violent actions." The two have dated for almost two years, and Mullins has identified as gay his entire life, during which he faced homophobia at school, on the streets and at clubs.
"But this is the first time I've ever been refused service at a business because I was gay," he says. "I want (Phillips) to know that what he did hurt us. All we wanted was a cake. We didn't want him to put on a rainbow shirt and march in the gay pride parade. This is me standing up for my community's rights."
Until yesterday, Masterpiece Cakeshop's ratings on Yelp included four five-star reviews, one four-star review and one low outlier -- three stars. As of this morning, with 71 reviews, the restaurant's average is 1.5 stars.
The couple has now "decided to go to the gayest cake shop we could think of. We went to Le Bakery Sensual and had a great experience," Mullins says. "They made us feel great, and no one batted an eye. When we told them what had happened, more than a few eyebrows went up."