The community that gave America the lead plaintiff in the gay marriage case that will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court this week is also home to the latest controversy to arise in the wake of Bruce Jenner’s gender transition.
The Senate Pub, a Cincinnati landmark, is being criticized for putting the Bruce Jenner 2.0 hot dog — part hot dog and part taco, sprinkled with cheese — on its menu.
“As much as I love the Senate team, the description of their ‘Bruce Jenner’ hot dog of the day made me cringe a little,” said Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay politician elected to the Cincinnati City Council.
Here’s what makes the Senate Pub’s decision to put the Bruce Jenner 2.0 hot dog on its menu more than a little cringe-worthy. Cincinnati is not only the home of Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that could wreck Ohio’s ban on gay marriage, but Leelah Alcorn also called suburban Cincinnati home.
Alcorn is the transgendered teen whose suicide focused the nation’s media spotlight on the problems faced by people who believe they are trapped in the wrong gender.
Alcorn was forced into “transition therapy” by her parents. Leelah Alcorn, or Joshua Ryan Alcorn as she was named by her parents, wrote in her suicide note she felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since she was four. Alcorn became aware of the term “transgendered” when she was 14 and told her parents that she was really a girl.
Alcorn said her mother reacted “extremely negatively” and said it was only a phase because God had made her a male, so she could never be a woman.
“I understand that Senate’s daily hot dogs are supposed to poke fun at celebrities, but given that Bruce Jenner is possibly coming out as transgender tonight, and knowing how difficult that is, as seen with the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, I’m not sure I would have gone with that description,” Seelbach also told WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.
Senate Pub co-owner Dan Wright said he understood why people might have a problem with the Bruce Jenner 2.0 hot dog, but he stood by it in a statement.
“We think Bruce Jenner is awesome and has a tremendous amount of courage to transition in the way that he has,” Wright said. “We think that Bruce will influence countless others who might not have felt brave enough to do so in the past.”
Bruce Jenner is not the first celebrity to be immortalized on the menu of the Senate Pub. The Lindsay Lohan hot dog is described as a “beef dog, goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, balsamic & tons of drama” on the Senate Pub’s menu.
They also offer the una noche con Nick Lachey, which is a “beef hotdog, roasted mushroom pico de gallo, sliced avocado, chipotle mayo, pickled jalapenos & queso fresco.”
But it was the Bruce Jenner 2.0 that upset Cincinnati. This is a community that has a history of being ultra-friendly to the LGBT community. Mayor John Cranley felt compelled to release a statement April 1 criticizing the Indiana Religious Freedom Amendment.
“In 2003, I led the effort to add sexual orientation to Cincinnati’s Human Rights Ordinance, which I am proud to say City Council supported. Last fall, the Human Rights Campaign gave the City of Cincinnati a perfect score of 100 on its Municipal Equality Index for our efforts at inclusion.”
“Plainly and simply, discrimination is wrong – whether it’s cloaked in a veil of legality or not. For those businesses and organizations choosing not to travel to Indiana, I encourage you to consider Cincinnati as an alternative,” Mayor Cranley added.
“Our hearts are big enough to accommodate everyone in the Queen City. Although other places may spurn you, you will be treated like family in Cincinnati.”
Dan Wright said he and the rest of the staff at the Senate Pub couldn’t be more on board with that sentiment. He also maintained it was pure coincidence that the hot dog was put on the menu only hours before Bruce Jenner’s coming-out interview with Diane Sawyer was aired on ABC.
The Bruce Jenner 2.0 has been pulled off the Senate Pub’s menu. But Wright said every penny they made from the sale of that dog will be donated to a foundation set up in the name of the Leelah Alcorn to help transgendered teens in Cincinnati.
“We f*cking love the LGBT community,” Write also told WCPO. “(The hot dog) is exactly what we said it is. Pure awesomeness.”