29 September 2013


 September 29, 2013

I tend not to get too personal when it comes to my blog on matters that do not directly relate to Celiac disease.  However, the recent Barilla debacle really struck a chord with me as yet another company took a huge misstep when their CEO, Guido Barilla, decided to get personal during an Italian radio interview, making disparaging comments about both gays and women.  He of course quickly back-tracked and apologized four times I believe since his original comments went public and the Barilla site now features an apology and diversity statement as their homepage.  I wanted to wait a bit and see how Barilla would handle the situation but the more that I waited (and their subsequent actions or lack thereof) just left a bad taste in my mouth.

As a gay Italian-American (who also happens to be adopted) I took personal offense to Barilla’s comments on gays and gay adoption – not to mention his take on the role of women in the home.  You see, while I am completely comfortable in my skin and have never let gay define who I am – every time I see something like this happen it feels like taking a huge step backwards for human rights.  That might sound like a bold statement but that is exactly what Barilla’s comments did.  As CEO of a global company it is not acceptable to single out a group or groups of your consumers because of your personal beliefs.  I mean come on – you make pasta – really good pasta that I actually grew-up on (in my pre-diagnosis days).  How about you stick to what you know and leave your personal beliefs out of it?

Now I was lucky enough that growing-up gay was not an issue in my family – in fact, I was always encouraged to be who I am.  Was it always easy in the real world – absolutely not.  I mean kids (and adults) can be cruel and ignorant.  My concern with Barilla’s comments is that young GLBT youth will see a comment like this and question their identity or feel like there is something wrong with them.  This is 2013 and we simply cannot allow for any group to be discriminated against just for being who they are.

So to all the GLBT youth out there, I am here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with you and be who you are – find your passion and follow it.  Be bold, be happy, be YOU.

To Barilla, I am afraid that I can no longer support a company that singles out anyone – straight or gay, man or woman, orange or green.  You made it personal so I am going to make it personal.  Mr. Barilla, you are a bully – plain and simple. You made reference to traditional families and I am here to tell you that my husband of fifteen years and me are exactly that.  Who are you to say otherwise?  Oh, and for the record, in your view on the traditional family you not only alienated gay families but any family that does not prescribe to your ideal of man and women (with, judging by your comments would place the woman in the kitchen).  What about all the single-parent families or families where both parents work and the woman does not adhere to your fundamental ideal?

Do I need to see me represented in every ad out there – not at all – but I do enjoy seeing it from time to time because it further helps to solidify that consumers are not one size fits all.  And maybe, just maybe, the more others see representations of people who are different than themselves it will further help to reinforce that it is our inherent uniqueness that makes the world such an amazing place.

Me and my family put our spending power behind brands that we respect and those that respect us.  My seventy-something year old Italian mother called me to tell me that she was done with the brand.  She also said she had a stockpile in her pantry.  I told her rather than throwing it out to go and donate it to a local food bank.  She bought it well-before the comments and it should benefit someone who truly needs it by someone who Mr. Barilla would likely label as non-traditional.

So, I am afraid that it’s Ciao, Barilla.  I like my gluten-free pasta without a side of hate.  Basta!


19 responses on “Ciao, Barilla.

  1. Vanessa says:

    I find this behavior deplorable. No one should be singled out because of who they are. I am not gay but I am a mother and will not support companies that segregate because of personal ideals. I will not be buying Barilla.

  2. Mark says:

    This is truly beyond belief. How a company can make marketing so personal is ridiculous. Shame on Barilla!

  3. Jane says:

    It is a shame that we are in 2013 and people (and companies) still think that hate is acceptable. Thank you for taking a stand.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Unbelievable. I’d be curious to know if Barilla’s wife’s role is in the kitchen per his ideology. There are so many other bands out there that care about selling past vs. selling ideals. I’ll be choosing them in the future.

  5. John says:

    Wow, talk about putting your foot in your mouth. What was Barilla thinking?

  6. Roberta says:

    Good on you for taking a stand.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I cannot even believe that a CEO would call out specific groups that don’t meet his ideals. Such a stupid move.

  8. Susan says:

    Unbelievable. When will companies learn?

  9. Toby says:

    Regardless of one’s personal beliefs to makes sweeping statements that isolate is just not acceptable. I don’t have to be gay to feel offended by Barilla. We are all human and should learn to respect each other regardless of our individual beliefs.

    • Yes, this goes beyond straight or gay — it is an issue of respecting human rights and being respectful of others who may be different from what you are used to. Not to mention that isolating entire groups because of personal beliefs is just bad business.

  10. Alex says:

    With all that is going on in the world when will we learn that we need to accept differences rather than isolating?

    • So true. With all that we should be focusing on comments like this really who that priorities are out of order.

  11. Erin Smith says:

    This is a wonderful post. Kudos to you for standing firm and boycotting a bully.

  12. Michelle says:

    Very well-said and thank you for saying it. Bullying is bullying and it doesn’t matter if it is in the schoolyard or the boardroom. We cannot tolerate this kind of thinking of one person placing their ideals above all.

  13. Melissa says:

    Companies need to learn that consumers “speak” with their wallets and perhaps Mr. Barilla should have thought twice before opening his mouth.

  14. Matthew says:

    I hope that this serves as a lesson to other companies who think that they can push a very narrow way of thinking. Bad for human rights — bad for business. He can think what he wants but by bringing his company into it is just ridiculous.

  15. Gayle says:

    It amazes me how something like this can happen in 2013. So many steps forward in human rights have been made only to get a black mark and several steps backward by stupid comments.

  16. Laura says:

    I really liked your comment to GLBT youth. It is hard enough even today for many and something like this could seriously make them question their identity. I echo your sentiment — be who you are. It is so important that all young people follow their passion and be whoever they are meant to be.

  17. Samantha says:

    Well said! I will not be buying Barilla. Not because I am GLBT but because I don’t like having narrow-minded ideals thrust upon me by anyone — particularly a company that I thought I respected.

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