The owner of a Knoxville eatery says refusing to serve Tennessee GOP state Sen. Stacey Campfield last Sunday was a "kind of spur of the moment gut reaction" to remarks he made about gays and AIDS, and that she felt it was important to "stand up for the gay community and everybody else who has ever been bullied by a bully like Stacey Campfield."
As outrage continues to build in response to Campfield, Martha Boggs, who owns and manages The Bistro at the Bijou, has emerged as a hero to many in Knoxville and -- if the restaurant's Facebook page and its hundreds of postings are a judge -- to people from as far off as Thailand and Switzerland for confronting Campfield in the aftermath of a controversial interview on my SiriusXM OutQ show. Campfield, sponsor of the "Don’t Say Gay" bill in Tennessee, said that it was “virtually impossible” to transmit HIV via heterosexual sex and that gays die at a younger age. Boggs read the comments on HuffPost Gay Voices and then in her local paper.
"On Sunday, Mr. Campfield came in for brunch," she explained in an interview yesterday. "I had been following some of the comments that he'd been making on The Huffington Post and read about him in the [Knoxville] News-Sentinel. And while he's always been controversial, he's crossed the line from being controversial to being dangerous."
Boggs said she was angry and moved to action. "I was incensed that an elected official could make such irresponsible comments," she says, noting that "quite a bit" of the restaurant's customers are from the LGBT community as are friends and employees of hers.
"I saw him at the front door and there was just something that made me decide to not serve him, just to make a point to him [about] how awful he has been," she explained. "I told him he wasn't welcome here and I wanted him to leave. He was waiting to be seated and I walked up to him and told him to leave. I was kind of mad, so I don't really remember everything. He left graciously enough."
According to Boggs, there was then applause among some patrons of the restaurant. She said a posting on a blog that described her as calling Campfield a "homophobe" before he left was "probably" true.
"You know, I don't recall saying that. I was a bit flustered and I probably did [call him that]," she said.
As for the outpouring of gratitude on social media sites and the national media coverage her action has received, Boggs said she’d been too busy to follow it.
"Honestly, I don't use Facebook a whole lot and I haven’t looked at my page," she said. "That's really sweet. That was not my intention. It was just my gut reaction. I wanted to stand up for the gay community."
Listen to the full interview with Martha Boggs: