Austin pastor accuses Whole Foods of writing anti-gay slur on cake


An Austin pastor is suing Whole Foods alleging that a bakery employee gave him a cake with an anti-gay slur written on it.

Church of Open Doors Pastor Jordan Brown said he planned to surprise his congregation members on Thursday with a cake. As he had done several times in the past, Brown said, he went to the Whole Foods flagship store on North Lamar Boulevard, approached the bakery counter and picked a blank, pre-frosted cake from the display case.

This time, he asked the bakery associate to write the words “Love Wins” with icing on the cake and waited until the employee handed him a box sealed with the store’s sticker, Brown said.

“I didn’t tell her anything about me being gay,” he said.

He paid for it, walked out the store and set the cake on the floor of the passenger seat side of his car before leaving. He didn’t look inside the box until he stopped at a stop light on Fifth Street and North Lamar Boulevard and saw the cake had the message: “Love Wins Fag” written on it, according to the lawsuit.

Brown is openly gay and is the founder of Church of Open Doors, a non-denominational Christian and LGBT-welcoming church in Southeast Austin. The message brought back memories of being bullied and humiliated over his sexual orientation, Brown said.

“This has been extremely offensive and humiliating,” he said.

Later that day, Brown spoke with a store employee about the incident, the lawsuit said. The employee eventually told him he had concluded the store had not done anything wrong, according to the lawsuit.

Brown’s attorney Austin Kaplan said they filed a lawsuit at the Travis County District court Monday after several days of unsuccessful attempts to reach the Whole Foods corporate and legal offices.

“It’s all the more frustrating and disappointing for this to happen with a company that professes to have the kind of values of inclusion, equality and tolerance that we share,” Kaplan said. “This cake contained a slur directed at the LGBT community, but the next could contain slurs directed at different races, religions, or national origins.”

Whole Foods issued a statement Monday saying: “Our team member wrote “Love Wins” at the top of the cake as requested by the guest, and that’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive. Whole Foods Market has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and the additional team members from the store, who confirmed the cake was decorated with only the message “Love Wins.”

In the lawsuit, Brown is requesting a jury trial and is seeking unspecified damages and monetary relief for mental anguish, court costs and other expenses.

“I’m horrified that this has happened and I’m hopeful that through my actions I can protect others in the Austin LGBT community,” he said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri 
9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri 

A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, killed 17 people Thursday night, including the boat’s driver and nine members of an Indiana family, according to authorities. Fourteen other people were injured. >> Read more trending news  Update 8:45 a.m. EDT July 21: The Stone County coroner confirmed to KSDK that...
In 1979, hard-living Oscar winner Broderick Crawford lit up St. Ed’s
In 1979, hard-living Oscar winner Broderick Crawford lit up St. Ed’s

Longtime photojournalist Robert Godwin has been going through his archives to rescue an abundance of Austin history. This arresting image catches Hollywood actor Broderick Crawford in half light: Crawford won a 1949 Academy Award for his role as populist politician Willie Stark in “All the King’s Men.” “I remember wanting to...
Community news: Hutto city manager not leaving, gets new contract

TRAVIS COUNTY CENTRAL AUSTIN Workshop on suicide risk NAMI Austin, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will host its monthly Mind Matters event, “Working Together to Recognize and Respond to the Rise in Suicide,” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday. The free event will be at the Austin Public Library’s Yarborough...
PolitiFact: Railroad Commission is no longer working on the railroads
PolitiFact: Railroad Commission is no longer working on the railroads

Railroad Commission candidate Roman McAllen of Denton offered delegates to the Texas Democratic Party convention a familiar refrain about the state’s anachronistically named oil and gas regulatory agency. “Finally, we have to change the name,” McAllen said. “The current one is very misleading. The Railroad Commission of Texas...
Deputies searching for shooter after man killed in eastern Travis County, officials say
Deputies searching for shooter after man killed in eastern Travis County, officials say

Deputies are searching for the shooter after a man was shot and killed in eastern Travis County on Friday night, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies responded at 8:43 p.m. to the 9300 block of FM 969 and found a man with a gunshot wound at a mobile home park, said Travis County sheriff’s officials. The suspected shooter is a man who was...
More Stories