Kroger’s love gay media love affair seems to be sizzling again. The Cincinnati-based grocery chain fell to gay pressure and has agreed to display gay newspaper Out and About at some of Nashville stores.
One Kroger employee alleges a religious group pushed Kroger to ban the gay newspaper, saying the group promised “unleash a fury they had never seen if they didn’t remove the publication.” Within a few days, Kroger announced it would no longer carry the paper. Gays, in turn, launched a boycott, which they say cost the chain $15,000.
Now, Kroger’s changing course, insisting it banned the paper not for political or religious reasons, but because the distributors violated a shadowy regulation.
Kroger Co. said in a news release Monday that it has a process for all free publications to be distributed at its stores, and the company that manages its free publication racks – DistribuTech – did not follow that process with Out & About.
“As we have done elsewhere, Kroger suspended distribution until the agreed-upon steps were followed. In this case, it resulted in the return of the paper to some stores in the Nashville area,” the release stated.
The distributor, which is a division of Consumer Source Inc., previously said it had canceled its deal to distribute Out & About at Nashville-area Kroger stores because the newspaper did not meet company policy.
Jerry Jones, publisher of Out & About, said Kroger officials from Ohio met with members of Nashville’s gay and lesbian community.
“They reviewed the paper and met with community leaders and realized that we publish a true newspaper for our community. It wasn’t a political or religious agenda,” Jones said Monday.
Jones said he was pleased with the company’s decision to allow the newspaper in eight stores in areas where the paper identified readership as high.
The paper is not, however, available at all local locations, which are “still reviewing” the situation.
Kroger spokeswoman Lynn Marmer also says the company’s committed to the gay newspaper cause:
We welcome everyone as customers. The free publications in our stores are intended as a convenience and service to customers. Nashville is a diverse city, similar to Atlanta, Dallas and other major metropolitan areas. The Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Equality Project, Out & About Newspaper publisher Jerry Jones and others have identified the locations where the paper may be serving local interests and needs.
Having free special interest publications, for example for seniors, families with young children or the GLBT community, is a way of serving local interests.
And, of course, keeping the queers off your corporate backs.