June 21, 2007
Kroger Bans 'Gay Music'
No more Elton John over the loudspeakers...
In its continuing effort to avoid offending homophobes, Kroger has
banned the playing of what an internal memo calls "gay music" over
"It's goodbye 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,'" says a source at the
grocery giant's Cincinnati headquarters. "We're not going to be
playing any Elton John, George Michael, Melissa Etheridge or any
other openly gay performers."
Most stores in the chain pipe in a selection of popular songs
interspersed with promotional announcements, and until now there has
been no sexual orientation test for the music.
"Before, we only focused on having songs that most people like -
kind of a middle-of-the-road approach," the Kroger source
says. "We'll still do that, just without anybody who's a known
Apparently performers who are merely rumored to be gay are still OK.
The move by Kroger follows the store's recent ban on giving rack
space to Out & About, the local newspaper covering news of interest
to gays and lesbians - a move that has been met with approval from
social conservatives and derision from others.
The chain justifies its ban by characterizing Out & About as a niche
publication, though why it is any more "niche" than, say, Nashville
Parent isn't specified. Critics also note the grocer's spotty
enforcement of its own policy, and that Kroger stores happily
display the local gay paper in Atlanta.
"I don't see what the big deal is about this," the Kroger source
says. "There are a million songs out there. And a lot of performers
aren't going to be missed. It's not like we were playing a lot of
Frankie Goes to Hollywood or Culture Club anyway."
Asked if this newfound concern for prevailing social norms extended
to performers who are known to use illegal drugs, the spokesman
backpedals. "We'll still play songs by those people because we don't
want our stores to go completely silent," he says. "Performers like
Charlie Daniels and Tom Petty may sing about dope, but at least
they're sexually straight. As far as we know."
"I have no time for Time magazine. Or Rolling Stone." Jethro Tull