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Did Whole Foods Really Write a Homophobic Slur on This Pastor's Cake?

There’s a certain degree of grisly irony that goes along with having a lovely cake spew homophobic vitriol at its incumbent devourers vis-à-vis brightly colored frosting.
Photo via Flickr user ebuntario

There's a certain degree of grisly irony that goes along with having a lovely cake spew homophobic vitriol at its incumbent devourers vis-à-vis brightly colored frosting. That's even more so the case if said cake happens to have been made in the state of Texas—which has a well-known history of opposing LGBT rights—for the openly gay pastor of an "LGBTQ friendly" church.

Jordan Brown, who is the gay pastor of Austin's Church of Open Doors (their motto: "We've taken tradition and religious doctrine and thrown them out the window") says he went to his local Whole Foods last week to get a cake for a member of his congregation. He asked the employee behind the counter to write the words "Love Wins" on the cake.


Five minutes later, Brown paid for the cake and left the store. It wasn't until he was in his car, stopped at a light that Brown says he glanced down at the cake and noticed that it in fact said this: "Love Wins Fag."

LOVE WINS FAG. That's not the cake I ordered, @WholeFoods and I am offended for myself & the entire #LGBT community

— Jordan D Brown (@PasJordanBrown) April 18, 2016

"For me, it was humiliating," Brown said. "The feeling that I had just resurfaced a bunch of painful memories." He claimed he was so upset that he drove home and shot a video of the cake, which appears to show the box still sealed with the label on it, and the offending words appearing through a cellophane panel.

Brown says he called the store and spoke to a manager who was "apologetic" and asked that the matter be resolved "internally." Two hours later, though, Brown says he got a call back from Whole Foods and was told "nothing could be done" for him and that the cake left the store with only the words "Love Wins" on it.

The pastor isn't fooling around: He just filed a lawsuit in Texas State Court. Austin Kaplan, his attorney, says, "Pastor Brown never asked for this to happen. He continues to be overwhelmed by the feelings of pain, anguish, and humiliation because of this incident."

Whole Foods later issued this statement: "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."


Whole Foods later contacted us and updated the statement to include the results of their inquiry into the matter; they also sent us security footage that purports to show Brown checking out from the Whole Foods with the cake.

Whole Foods explains that as a result of this further investigation, "We believe his accusations are fraudulent and we intend to take legal action against both Mr. Brown and his attorney." They also point out that Brown's video "showed the UPC label on the bottom and side of the box," but that the security footage reveals "the UPC label was in fact on top of the cake box, not on the side of the package. This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box."

A representative for Whole Foods told MUNCHIES the following: "It's concerning that some media outlets have reported Mr. Brown's allegations as fact. We think it's important for reporters who cover the story to have all the facts on the situation, including the surveillance video we have from our store."

We're having a press conference at 3:00pm CST at 98 San Jacinto Blvd Suite #540 #lgbt — Jordan D Brown (@PasJordanBrown) April 18, 2016

What the hell is going on here? Is the pastor a fraud? Or is Whole Foods unjustifiably defending a deviant employee? It's a battle of two videos and given that Pastor Brown has brought a lawsuit in Texas State Court and Whole Foods has now announced their plan to countersue, we'll leave it up to the courts to decide.

And so it turns out that a seemingly innocent frosted cake—the kind that birthday parties are made of—can be twisted into a vehicle for homophobic vitriol and result in a he-said/he-said lawsuit that will surely take months to resolve.