Word spread on Facebook faster than it takes to drink a cup of coffee. People shared the news, created hashtags and planned a boycott all within a few hours. The rumor was Sunergos Coffee had removed LEO Weekly from its three locations because of the image of a lesbian couple on the cover.
Only thing is, says Sunergos co-owner Matthew Huested, it’s not true. He tells Insider the company decided to remove the paper from the coffee shops on Feb. 1, due to what he and co-owner Brian Miller believed to be an increase in sexually explicit material in the weekly newspaper.
“We had been talking about it for a while after hearing from both from employees and customers alerting us to sexually explicit content inside,” Huested says. “We’ll pull publications and advertisements that are on the wall if there’s something of a sexually explicit nature.”
He’s not sure where the idea — that they pulled the publication due to a LGBTQ couple on the cover — came from, but he was shocked to see it spread so fast on social media outlets. And Friday, he’s been inundated with phone calls and angry customers accusing them of discrimination.
“We serve people who drink coffee, which crosses all barriers,” Huested says. “We don’t discriminate against anyone.”
In the past, Sunergos has been said to be affiliated with the Sojourn Church in Germantown, which believes that being gay is a sin. Huested says the coffee shop is not part of the Sojourn Church and is not affiliated with it in any way.
“Neither Brian or I are members of Sojourn, but we do have some people on staff who are,” he says.
And in a statement he released on Facebook this morning, Huested said, “We have always been pleased to serve everyone and will continue to work hard to show hospitality in all our stores without discrimination.”
Insider reached out to the editors at LEO Weekly for comment, and they indicated they were working on this column on the issue.
(Full disclosure: This writer was a former editor of LEO Weekly.)