Local News

Gay rights group sends 'Froot Loops' boxes to N.C. lawmaker

Posted October 14, 2010 4:02 a.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2010 11:22 a.m. EDT

— A gay rights group is making a point about comments from a North Carolina House member while providing assistance to people with HIV.

Equality North Carolina carried 279 empty miniature boxes of “Froot Loops” cereal Thursday to the office of Rep. Larry Brown in Raleigh.

The number equates to messages the group received from people after a private e-mail by the Forsyth County Republican surfaced last week that contained gay slurs.

The messages accompany the boxes, while the unopened packages of cereal will go to Triad Health Project, a nonprofit in Brown’s region of the state that provides support and food to low-income HIV patients.

“By poking fun at his actions, we hope to diminish the power of his hateful words and also call attention to what he’s done,” Equality NC executive director Ian Palmquist said at a news conference Thursday morning. “But we recognize his actions are serious, and we hope that he does read these really powerful, personal messages that are coming from North Carolinians.”

The boxes and messages were left with the General Assembly's security office for delivery to Brown when he returns to his office, police Chief Jeff Weaver said.

In the Sept. 27 e-mail to 60 other lawmakers, Brown responded to news that House Speaker Joe Hackney would receive an award from Equality NC by referring to “queers” and writing he expected “a couple legislative fruitloops” at the Nov. 13 ceremony.

The comments drew ire from Equality NC and others and drew national attention, even a joke on “Saturday Night Live.”

Palmquist said “hundreds of people were disgusted” by Brown’s comment and that his words could not go unchallenged.

“In this day and age, we ought to be above calling people names and acting childish,” wrote Chris, of Raleigh, in a message accompanying one of the cereal boxes. “Everyone deserves respect, regardless of whether you can relate to them or not.”

Despite calls by Equality NC for a public apology, Brown has not addressed the e-mail.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, has called the language in Brown’s e-mail “unfortunate,” and said he wrote to Brown that he doesn’t encourage the language in public or private.

"I don't tell people what to say. He said what he said," Stam said. "I don't use that language. It's not appropriate, but it's not a news story."

But Palmquist disagrees.

“When an elected official, there to represent all of the people in his district, (who) is using really bigoted, offensive language about people he represents, I think it’s appropriate to call him out on that,” Palmquist said.