by Ada Jones
The first time I went into a sex shop, I was mesmerized. At 18-years-old, I was a college freshman and a baby queer, desperate for an unknown community and slowly coming into the realization that I was not as heterosexual as I had once claimed. The bulk of my sexual history at that point consisted of PIV sex with cisgender men, and while I theoretically knew the mechanics of other forms, I was intimidated, confused, and overwhelmed by the knowledge the Internet had provided me. Never one to turn away from a challenge, however, I set out to acquire some firsthand knowledge (pun intended) and purchase my very own sex toys.
As a new Louisville resident, I checked with the Internet to review my limited brick-and-mortar local options and decided on the Adam & Eve franchise on Hurstbourne Parkway. Over the next few years, as my confidence and queerness grew, I became a repeat customer and shopped there with multiple partners of varying gender identities. We were always treated well by the staff, and I’ve continually recommended their location to many local LGBTQ+ friends.
Which is, I suppose, why it was so personally devastating to learn that this store’s owner is transphobic, homophobic, and racist.
According to Adam and Eve corporate offices, the Louisville (including the new location on Preston Highway) locations are owned by Scott and Tina Weis, who also own several other area businesses, including a newly-opened restaurant next door called Scooter’s Triple B’s. The Bs stand for “burgers, beers, and ballgames,” but unfortunately, we learned this week that a fourth B for “bigotry” might be an apt addition, based on Scott’s Facebook posts on both the restaurant’s page and his personal one. This whole saga began on Facebook, as most do, when one woman publicly shared a sign that greeted her at the entrance of Scooter’s.
As the post began to spread, Scooter’s Triple B’s began receiving bad reviews on Facebook and Google calling out their transphobic (and otherwise tasteless) sign. This prompted at least one owner to post this since-deleted statement on their restaurant’s page:
Unsurprisingly, this angered many LGBTQ+ folks and allies in Louisville. It’s also a potential violation of our local fairness ordinance, which protects LGBTQ+ people from being denied housing, work, or services because of their LGBTQ+ status. While voicing their anger about this sign and subsequent status, Facebook users found even more damning information about Scooter’s and Weis. For example, the restaurant had a Confederate flag on the wall as decoration until a few weeks ago, when an African American customer reviewed them publicly.
Instead of responding to comments by using the company Facebook page, Scott Weis instead began replying to comments from his personal account, claiming that the posting of the sign was simply a joke; that the stated position of “[transgender people] just need to use the [bathroom] that goes with the gender they were born with” was merely a courtesy ask that all restaurant owners expected of their clientele. While Weis’ comments on his restaurant’s status were even-keeled, his personal page was largely public and much more unhinged. For the sake of our collective mental health and Weis’ privacy (something he doesn’t appear trans folks are entitled to), I’ll only share one of his sentiments:
It was while looking through the comments on the various posts about the sign that I discovered that Weis also owns the Adam & Eve franchises in Louisville. While franchisee information on Adam & Eve is unavailable through the corporate website, a 2014 article about a robbery at the store identifies Tina Weis, Scott’s wife, as the store’s owner. Tina also responded to Facebook reviews of the Adam & Eve store from her personal account, while Scott has made multiple public posts identifying himself as an owner.
As of February 9th, both the Scooter’s Triple B’s and Adam & Eve Kentucky Facebook pages have been taken down, presumably a result of the onslaught of negative attention. I’ll let the team at Fairness Campaign and the Louisville Metro Human Rights Commission handle the fairness ordinance violation. Before the pages were taken down, dozens of commenters attempted to calmly explain what was so abhorrent about Weis’ sign and views, but it quickly became clear that his commitment to ignorance was stronger than any attempts at understanding. While Weis claimed his sign and statement were not discriminatory, Louisville clearly saw bigotry and responded accordingly. For that, I am grateful and proud.
But what bothers me as much, if not more, than Weis’ disgusting sign is the fact that he is more than happy to profit off of queer sex lives while spewing his vitriol in private. Truth be told, I was unlikely to spend time at Scooter’s Triple B’s anyway (and from prior reviews of the food, I’m not sure I’d be missing much). But every single queer adult I know has been to a sex store, and a whole lot of us rely on them for gender-affirming sex products. Many of my transgender friends recall shopping for their first strap-ons or pairs of lingerie at sex shops, which can be an affirming and important experience. While online shopping is obviously an option, I’m sure we can all imagine the occasional need to window shop before purchasing a sex toy. With only a handful of stores to choose from and even fewer providing quality products, Adam & Eve was the most popular local option – at least in my circles – for acquiring safe, necessary, and pleasurable accessories. Unfortunately, Weis’ bigotry has lost him at least this longtime customer, and I encourage you to boycott all of his businesses* as well. While reason appears to be a lost cause, perhaps an effect on Weis’ wallet will make an impact.
Moreover, I’d like to encourage my fellow queer folks to do our research before handing over our hard-earned money – even if it seems like a foregone conclusion that a company would support our community. In my wildest dreams, I would never have imagined the hypocrisy it takes to own a sex store and be vehemently opposed to LGBTQ+ folks, but here we are. Maybe that store hangs rainbow decorations in its windows in June, but does it fairly employ queer people? Does it donate to or partner with local LGBTQ+ organizations? Does its owner gladly indulge his greed while preaching against us and our loved ones? Until we consider questions like these on a regular basis, rainbow capitalism and the Weises of the world will continue to profit off of us while condemning us for who we are and who we love. That doesn’t sit well with me, and I’ll be taking my money (and bathroom breaks) elsewhere.