by David Mendez
In this week's Mailbag, reader W. Welch describes a difficult time had at the Loft Cinema's July 4 screening of Team America: World Police. An excerpt:
Yesterday, two close friends and I came to The Loft to celebrate, as with other fellow Americans, our complicated relationship with our country. We thought the Loft's choice of Team America: World Police was befitting for the 4th of July. After paying for our tickets, we found out the crowd would be yelling "FAG!" each time Hollywood's iconic, liberal actors appeared, as their puppet parodies, on screen. All right. We figured we would just deal yet again with hearing the abusive word, especially considering how often we have to endure it from straights in our daily lives since we're lesbian and gay.
Once the "FAG!" shouting had started, we sat there in our movie seats looking around at everyone. Being in a crowded theater full of straight people unabashedly screaming "FAG!" is not at all fun. It doesn't feel fun. It's assaultive. There were people in that movie theater, in every movie theater we've ever stepped in to, who hate us. You know it, and I know it, and we had to sit there next to such people as they yelled "FAG!" Some of them continued talking about what they think of those "faggots" on screen. We were sitting right in the middle of self-righteous hate and hang-ups being humored and justified by the film, their fellow yelling moviegoers, and, sadly, The Loft.
We then had to get up and leave. Out of a sense of self-respect and worth, we just couldn't sit there anymore and be humiliated. We left feeling once again threatened, angry, disappointed, and even more isolated from our country and Tucson community.
The letter, as you imagine, drew a number of responses — but most importantly, it drew one from the Loft itself.
W. Welch posted the Loft's response in the comment section of the Mailbag, but I figured it was a classy enough move on the Loft's part that it should be shared here. Again, from W. Welch:
Hi, I'm W. Welch, and I'd like to share the Loft's response to the letter I wrote above:
"On behalf of The Loft Cinema, I would like to apologize for any discomfort, anger or disappointment you felt while attending our Team America Sing-A-Long on July 4th. The intention of this annual event is definitely not to make anyone feel uncomfortable or marginalized in any way, but rather to provide a fun and unique way to celebrate the holiday. However, intentions and reality are often not perfectly matched, and your insightful comments regarding some of the language used during the show are very well taken, and will certainly be taken into serious consideration as we move forward. Again, we would never intentionally set out to make any person or group feel anything less than 100% welcome here at The Loft, and we sincerely apologize for making you feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way. We strongly support and respect our LGBTQ community, and we appreciate your thoughtful response to an unpleasant situation, which allows us a valuable opportunity to learn and grow. While this will in no way correct the situation, please accept a pair of passes to The Loft as our way of making amends, and we hope you will return to the cinema and have a wonderful experience."
I, and my friends who were with me that night, could not have asked for a better, more mindful response. In light of their commitment to our community, I plan on remaining, proudly, a loyal customer. Thank you.
Good on the Loft for making an effort to address the problem.