I never worried about the political and social ramifications of eating my Barilla linguini. I reserved that concern for Chick-fil-A, which I hadn't eaten at in over two years because they don't support LGBT rights. I buy boxes of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts since they have a long-standing history of not discriminating against leaders and members based on sexual orientation. The only concern I had about pasta was eating too much of it.
That was until an Italian radio show recently asked Guido Barilla, the chairman of one of the world's leading pasta manufacturers, if he would ever feature gay families and couples in the company's advertisements. According to Grub Street, the 55-year-old responded:
"I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role."
By fundamental role, I'm guessing he means the woman needs to log some serious kitchen time. If that's true, two women in a loving relationship who enjoy cooking could do the same thing. They could join forces and, I might add, have a contest to see who's al dente pasta strand sticks to the wall best. Then there's the inherent sexism that a man can't make a delicious Ziti Sorentina and be considered a fundamental part of his family. A gay family can be a classic family made up of people who care about each other, whether it is a biological or chosen group of supportive individuals.
Barilla's heteronormative ideals about what constitutes a family are simply archaic. Although he is in favor of gay marriage, which is not legal in Italy, he opposes gay parents adopting children. His pasta is shipped all over the world to increasingly LGBT-friendly consumers who support or identify within the LGBT community. On Thursday, Barilla pretended to apologize for his radio comments and clarified that all he wanted to say was "the woman plays a central role in the family." I refer him to the imaginary two women I made up a paragraph ago who are throwing pasta against their kitchen wall.
Aurelio Mancuso, leader of gay rights group Equality Italia, called for a boycott on Barilla's pasta, sauces and snacks. White I am personally not going to buy from Barilla until they change their stance, I can't live on salads alone. Thankfully, the Human Rights Campaign compiled a list of pasta brands that support LGBT rights. The following companies ranked high on HRC's Corporate Equality Index:
1) Macaroni Grill products (General Mills), 100 score
2) Pasta Roni (PepsiCo), 100 score
3) Market Pantry (Target), 100 score
4) Chef Boyardee (ConAgra Foods), 95 score
5) Rosetto (Hain Celestial Group), 90 score
I know what you're thinking: What about sauce to put on my LGBT-friendly pasta? Two words: Paul Newman. I know, I'm drooling already. The legendary actor was a vocal advocate for LGBT rights, so treat yourself to his line of Newman's Own sauces.
Now let's get a pot of water boiling. It's pasta night again.