Staff Columnist

What are Iowa's real values?

The annual Pride Parade makes its way down Iowa Ave in Iowa City on Saturday, June 21, 2014. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette-KCRG)
The annual Pride Parade makes its way down Iowa Ave in Iowa City on Saturday, June 21, 2014. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette-KCRG)

On September 12, the Sioux County Conservatives posted a call to their Facebook community urging members to contact 4 Brothers Bar and Grill in Sioux Center to stop a dangerous threat: brunch.

The bar announced they were hosting a brunch in honor of Orange City Pride. “Sad to see Four Brothers joining in the celebration of sin weekend,” read a post on the Sioux County Conservatives Facebook group. “They typically are closed on Sunday, but are opening on the Lord’s Day to celebrate homosexuality and transgenderism.” Another post explained that brunch could be a gateway drug to “drag queens dancing with children” and perhaps—grab your pearls—reading to them.

In response, 4 Brother’s cancelled the brunch. The Sioux County Conservatives declared victory. But it was momentary. On September 15, the Orange City Pride Facebook page announced they had spoken with 4 Brothers and brunch was back on at the location in Le Mars.

The fight over brunch is more than just about waffles and Bloody Marys. It’s about Iowa values and the values of our nation—who gets a seat at the table, and who is fed who is seen as fully human.

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Delicious as a it is, brunch is not the enemy. People are people, everyone needs to eat. But the crime here isn’t the eating, it’s doing so publicly. Eating in a way that makes no apologies. In a way that offends the sensibilities of people who thought America was great when queerness was closeted and women couldn’t divorce their bad husbands, rape wasn’t reported, and misery was swallowed down with a cyanide pill and a dead smile. The crime is not a threat to Christianity or any way of life. Many queer people are Christians and have children. No, the real crime is not a crime at all. It’s simply exisiting. It’s an LGBTQ person being a complete human publicly for the world to see without apology, without remorse. The true crime of Pride brunch is that it forces us to see that Iowa, and by extension America, is not what we thought it was—white, cis gendered, heterosexual, Christian—but a far, far more complicated thing—one that involves identities as complex and beautiful as all of God’s creation, because that’s what they are.

The fight over brunch is more than just about waffles and Bloody Marys. It’s about Iowa values and the values of our nation—who gets a seat at the table, and who is fed who is seen as fully human.

The Sioux County Conservatives wrote, “We don’t want any pride weekends for anything immoral. We want our town and our community to remain a place that is ideal for raising a family, that honors our Creator and strives to follow and acknowledge Him.”

But I think about the Creator often and what she/he/they would do in a situation where Christians were outraged by LGBTQ people eating brunch at a bar. In the Bible, when Jesus kicked over tables and brought a whip, it wasn’t to a bar, not to the sinners, but to church. Jesus called the religious leaders “broods of vipers” and “whitewashed sepulchers” which is just another way of saying they looked good on the outside but had the stink of rotting death on the inside.

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But this isn’t about Jesus. Not really. If it were we’d be clothing and feeding the poor, we wouldn’t be imprisoning babies on the border. We’d be healing the sick and reserving our harshest words for hypocritical religious leaders who actively promote hate from Facebook or the pulpit. No, this was never about Jesus. What this is about is about who gets to define what’s right and what’s wrong, who is allowed to be human, and who is allowed to eat bacon and mimosas without fear.

And in the fight over the heart of our state and our country and who we want to be, I hope that we end up on the side of Sunday with booze, and waffles for everyone, no exceptions. That would be holy.

Comments: 319-398-8513; lyz.lenz@thegazette.com

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