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Two Gay Men Take Fatburger Way Too Seriously
When West Hollywood-based spouses and screenwriting team David A. Lee and Daniel Vaillancourt walked by their neighborhood Fatburger restaurant on Sunday January 14, 2007, they were shocked to see a poster introducing the company's new Baby Fat Deal in the window. Its tag line read: "It’s for women, children and the occasional girly-man." The pair -- who feel that the homophobic and misogynistic slogan (made famous by unapologetic California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) would be offensive in any city, but especially so in the bastion of gay pride that is WeHo -- went to Fatburger's corporate web site and lodged a written complaint. "We basically told them that this ad campaign is an insult to the LGBT community, and that until it was discontinued we would not patronize Fatburger," says Lee. Adds Vaillancourt: "That was a hard promise to make, because Fatburger is our hands-down favorite. But we meant business."
Lee and Vaillancourt didn't have to stay away for long. Within 24 hours, the couple received a written apology from the company, a "thank you" for pointing out the faux-pas, and a promise that every "girly-man" poster nationwide would immediately be taken down.
The grassroots activism left a great taste in the men’s mouths. Not that they’re strangers to causing a commotion. In 2004, Lee (a former Continental Airlines flight attendant) took on his past employer when it refused to honor its contractual agreement to provide spousal travel benefits to Vaillancourt, whom he had married in Vancouver, Canada. The couple won.