Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
The president of the iconic culinary establishment, the James Beard Foundation, took a stand against anti-gay bigotry. Susan Ungaro returned an award she received from the Boy Scouts of America after it was revealed that the Scouts are anti-gay.
James Beard was a ground-breaker in the culinary world, having had a cooking show years before Julia Child, and bringing attention and prestige to the cooking profession and the food industry as a whole. The thing is, he was openly gay, so it’s kind of ironic that the Scouts would give an award to the president of a foundation created in his hono. Michelangelo Signorile blogged about it over at HuffPost: “It was especially troubling considering that the legendary chef and cookbook writer James Beard was an openly gay man who was thrown out of Reed College in Portland in 1922 for precisely the same reason: because he was gay.”
Yet, the Scouts offered the award to Susan Ungaro and she accepted, despite the fact that the Boy Scouts are notorious for their anti-gay stance.
But Ms. Ungaro did the right thing and returned the award. In a note to Signorile, she wrote: “While I support all the poverty and hunger-fighting programs of the Boy Scouts of America, including sending at-risk youth to camp, your report brought to my attention that accepting the Distinguished Citizen Award implied I support their anti-gay policy, which I absolutely do not. When I accepted the honor, I was focused on supporting the New Jersey chefs and restaurant community. I have informed the Boy Scouts of America that I am rescinding my acceptance of the award.”
Sometimes it takes a little nudge, but people will often do the right thing.