Fayetteville, Arkansas republican alderman John LaTour approached an employee of a Cary Arsaga restaurant Saturday demanding that she choose a gender, claiming that he could not tell if she were a man or a woman.
He then explained that he was a man and could prove it by dropping his pants and showing his penis. That is bullying behavior and unacceptable on so many levels. Please call any news outlets you know and alert them to his “protests.” I doubt offering to expose yourself would be considered protected speech even by the right wing activist Dugger family who funded his campaign. He should be kicked out of office.
--Gavin Smith, civil engineer
Indeed, LaTour has made no secret of his hatred of LGBT people and has called himself the candidate of "Conservative Values." He even earned a $2000 campaign donation from Michelle and JimBob Duggar.
While running for office, La Tour promised to overturn Fayetteville’s anti-discrimination ordinance, prohibiting landlords and business owners from evicting or firing someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status or veteran status.
LaTour was asked to leave the restaurant by the manager. In response LaTour posted on Facebook (since deleted) calling for a boycott of all Arsaga restaurants.
The alderman was interviewed by the Demozette and confirmed that he was in the restaurant, but claimed that his words were misinterpreted. He said he was merely asking the woman to dance.
Then, he decided to ask a female server to dance but he just wanted to confirm she was actually a woman first because “we live under an ordinance which lets me choose my gender based on how I feel that day.”
He claims his exact words were,
You can declare you're a man or you're a woman, whatever you want to.
I am a man and I can prove it.
According to La Tour, his critics took his words “exactly the wrong way,” and that he refuses to step down despite a petition calling for his resignation.
“They know I’m conservative; they’re terribly disappointed I’m on the City Council,” La Tour said. “All that this is about is to discredit John La Tour and make him look like a buffoon.”
La Tour also spoke with the Arkansas Times and claimed he apologized to the employee for the misunderstanding before he left and that he hoped to meet with the management of the restaurant to “bury the hatchet."
Now Greta Allendorf, the barista at Arsaga's at the Depot has decided to respond to LaTour in an open letter.
I am a barista, and more importantly, a human being. I acknowledge that you are also a human being and not the complete monster you are currently being portrayed as on social media. I am also not the victim I see described in these posts.
On the morning of our incident, I didn’t know who you were and just thought you were a jerk being a jerk to someone in the service industry. It happens everyday. When you apologized, you said it wasn’t your intention to offend me, but what was your intention? It seems now that whether you realized it or not, your intention was to bully someone who obviously didn’t share your political notions.
You said to me that it’s not hard to declare gender, that there are only two choices, male or female. I, like you, am not well versed in gender politics. We just can’t possibly understand what it means to be transgender. But in my lack of understanding, there’s a well of compassion. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to just exist in a world of those who don’t understand and hate you merely for existing. In your lack of understanding, there is fear. I get that. That’s very human of you. But how does that fear serve you? How does it serve your children?
LaTour, who represents Ward 4, now faces a petition calling for him to resign, which has over 3000 signatures.
LaTour is vehement about not resigning.
La Tour often speaks of his religious opposition to homosexuality and transgender identity. He drew rebukes from other city officials during a council agenda session last month after asking whether a potential city contractor was a man or a woman and saying, "It's hard to tell these days." City Attorney Kit Williams said the question wasn't appropriate.
They're not funny if they're intended as jokes, and they're just unbecoming for an elected official.
--Kyle Smith, For Fayetteville