Lesbian Couple Receives Complimentary Homophobic Letter from God at North Carolina Restaurant

A lesbian couple in North Carolina were just about to leave The Sting Ray Cafe when Ed McGovern, its owner, hand-delivered them a letter he’d been asked to send them by God. The letter, delivered to Arielle and Shawnee McPhail on their way out of the New Bern restaurant, was riddled with misspellings but nonetheless conveyed the Lord’s message: that homosexuality is against God’s will.original

God said in the last days that man and wom[a]n would be lover of self, more [than] the lover of God.

That man and woman would have unnatural [affection] for one another. Then, the coming of the Son of Man, who is Jesus. So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. And ask the Lord to open your eye[s] before it [is] to[o] late.

The Love of Christ

P.S. my daughter also was gay. It destroy[ed] her life and my grandson.

McGovern admits to writing and delivering the letter “out of love,” and once delivered a similar letter to another couple. He claims he was summoned to scribe on The Lord’s behalf when he saw the two women kissing outside of the restaurant, although the couple denies having done anything more than hold hands – and feel that no matter what form their affection took, the action taken by McGovern was “inappropriate and offensive.”

The general population seems to agree; many have taken to Yelp! to express their dissatisfaction with McGovern’s overall life choices, publishing reviews ranging in thesis from “boo to you Hate Cafe” to “attend at your own peril,” and including smartass gems like “hopefully their god can explain why they’ll be out of business soon.” The Sting Ray Cafe’s average rating on the site is now 1 star, and most of the 168 reviews are negative.

“no thanks,” wrote Derek M. “i don’t like homophobia with my hush puppies.”


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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. It’s really sad that most homophobic Christians think that their homophobia is just out of the love of God. I feel bad for his daughter too. I’m glad so many people disagreed with what he did though. That makes me happy.

  2. “So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. ”

    Well..seeing two individuals loving each other hurts others? Wow. Just wow.

  3. Pretty extreme response to one (really uncalled for, hateful) action… What is everyone hating on this place going to do to make this person reconsider? I guess if it gets enough press the next person thinks twice about doing it (but I’m guessing that the people who remember that this happened will all be queer/allies).

    I grew up really defensive because I expected this all the time. I have learned that feeling defensive all the time hurts me and keeps me from getting closer to others. My first inclination is to react like everyone is to this (that response is what is, I might say, “triggered”), but maybe we should think about a more healthy way to react?

    Also, Carmen, you’re fantastic, but… “riddled with misspellings” ? http://paintingthegreyarea.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/literacy-privilege/

    • I completely agree about the misspellings. I’m glad you mentioned it, Raisa, because I think it’s an important point. I like the link that you shared, too.

      • Thank you for posting the link to that blog. It was nice to read the blogger’s personal story and it helps convey a message that I have always wanted to share, but did not want to “get into” with people on social media sites. I will be posting a link myself in other locations.

  4. For anyone that asks what this is doing, hopefully it’ll keep anyone from patronizing a business that oversteps their boundaries by preaching to change the gays. If we’re lucky, they’ll go out of business. I know I deliberately don’t patronize anti-gay business and I’m pretty sure there are lots of people like me.

    Maybe I’m a bad person, but if I got a letter that looked like that I would mock the hell out of it. I don’t see why I should give any respect to those who have zero respect for me. Also mocking it would be probably the only way to keep myself from crying. This is what I do with letters from my parents.

    • I agree. literacy privilege is nonsense.Lesbian Grammar Nazi’s live for homophobic misspelled hate mail (even from God) for at least the comedic relief.

    • Coping mechanisms are legit and necessary…this shit is a big deal and it hurts.

      Business owners definitely should know not to do that but…I don’t know if this place going out of business will going to make life any easier for the daughter and the grandson (who may or may not spell well enough to make fun of this guy’s letters) mentioned in the letter, though. Ugh, complicated.

    • Looking over that letter, I can see several markers of possible dyslexia or other learning disability (I know nobody can diagnose an LD based on one small writing sample, but several of the errors are consistent with patterns often seen in LD – so it’s at the very least a distinct possibility.)

      So here is my honest question for you, and I swear I’m not trying to be confrontational: Would you feel justified mocking someone for a physical disability as a reaction against them being mean or antagonistic towards you? And if not, why is this different?

      I absolutely think it is utterly ridiculous and laughable that this person thinks it’s okay to serve his customers with this type of letter – after accepting their patronage and money – I just think we should focus on the message itself.

      • No. Likely because a. this is something that can be gotten around with proofreading, help, etc. b. I can’t see any reason in which someone would antagonize me DIRECTLY and cruelly with their disability, which the writer has done in this case.

        Clearly there’s a possibility that the author has dyslexia. It’s not keeping him from spewing absolute bullshit.

        And like I said below, if I had an important point to get across and there was some reason that I couldn’t, I’d use help or a proofreader. Not that anyone would take this seriously based on content alone.

        Now can we switch back to the victims instead of focusing on the poor hard life of the instigator? This is absolutely ridiculous.

        • Maybe he doesn’t have a proofreader standing ready at his elbow all day. With all due respect, you are even further trivializing the struggles of people with LD by saying that kind of thing.

          This is not about defending the instigator – I said clearly that I think what he did is utterly ridiculous and offensive. There is no reason I can’t decry his actions, and also discuss a tangential issue that is in my mind equally important.

          You are perfectly free to choose to mock people’s writing ability if it helps you cope, but understand that in doing so – at least if you do so out loud, to other people – it reinforces negative stereotypes of people with LD and/or other literacy challenges.

          • while this is true, there is still ZERO proof he has LD.

            and quite frankly, it is an insult to those WITH LD to automatically group him with them.

          • I didn’t automatically group him with them. I made it distinctly clear that I am not qualified to assume he has LD. The point is that every time someone is belittled for spelling and grammar, it reinforces the idea that this is an okay thing to do – and that DOES affect other people who DO have LD, or brain injuries, or lack of access to education, or whatever else.

    • The thing is though, the content is laughable regardless of the misspelling. Pointing out misspellings is just a way to go ‘well at least I’m smarter’ when in fact it’s ablist (misspellings are common among those with learning disabilities particularly dyslexia), biased toward a certain kind of education, and classist (since wealth distribution affects education as well). Something like this is just as stupid and mockable without turning to something that is shaming to other people who struggle with spelling as well, including autostraddle members.

      For that matter, the system that keeps people uneducated is the same system that ensures that people stay closedminded, and acting snooty won’t change  that.

      • Wow, I am really loved being called “snooty.” I didn’t actually say whether I’d mock it for the content or the spelling. I would use a proofreader if I ever really wanted to get my point across, though. Someone will probably accuse me of that being ableist as well, and you know what? In this case, I don’t care.

        I have no idea why there’s so much more defense for the aggressor here than for the two queers who were accosted by a straight, cis man who clearly knows what’s right for everyone, by virtue of his being a straight cis man who loves JESUS and therefore is better than any of us.

        I always kind of hoped the queers would be on the side of the oppressed, not the oppressor.

        • I don’t think anyone is on the side of the oppressor per se — pointing out that some oppressed people have privilege (in this case, ableist and/or economic — access to education, etc.) does not erase the homophobia that exists in this letter.

        • High school drop-out rates for LGBT youth are 3x higher than the average, which is, to be bold, easy to forget on Autostraddle. If we don’t pay attention to what people with imperfect spelling/grammar say, we are ignoring a lot of our peeps. (and a lot of assholes, but I prefer to label assholes assholes instead of people who can’t spell)

        • “You” is a general you here.

          When someone does a horrible thing, and you respond by criticizing something completely unrelated to their character, all you are doing is insulting all the people around you with that unrelated-to-character characteristic. We don’t like it when people insult huge swathes of people who do not deserve it.

          Expressing that is not in anyway defending the character of the person whose unrelated-to-character characteristic you were criticizing, and it is disingenuous to suggest that.

        • What about someone pretending to be god? How snooty is that?
          This coward couldn’t even sign his own letter using his own name. I DO NOT want to feel sorry for him!

  5. I don’t remember where I read this, but every time I see nonsensical letters/articles/statements like the one above, I think of it:

    “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
    ― Anne Lamott

    Maybe you should let God speak for himself, Ed. This “image” seems awfully misconstrued.

  6. I know it is a goal for some people to point out every form of privilege ever in the world, and for the most part it is necessary in the process of understanding each other. That being said, this entire discussion has gone horribly awry by people focusing on literacy privilege instead of the hate speech that was still very clearly communicated in the letter. Also,as a person who exists in the intersection of poverty stricken, rural North Carolina public school Special Ed class product with a learning disability who is now a teacher, some people just don’t care enough to spell correctly, especially when they view it as necessary and/or when they are spewing hate. I have a lifetime of experience to prove it.

    • I think that the reason people are talking about “literacy privilege” is that it is more interesting than homophobia. It’s pretty clear that this person sucks. The real question is how we should respond to said suck-i-ness.

  7. I’m honestly surprised to see so many people, especially on a site like this one, who want to shut this conversation down. I’ve thought before that that there seems to be a subset of readers who will jump to the defense of anything and everything that’s written here, no matter what it is.

    I think it’s incredibly important that Carmen brought this story to our attention. I respect Carmen as a writer and greatly appreciate her eloquence and voice on this website. That doesn’t mean I always agree with every single thing she writes (and that goes for all the writers here).

    Yes, we need acknowledge the homophobia in the letter, and its implications for our community. But the comments are open to all, and if there haven’t been a lot of people focusing on that aspect of the story, maybe that’s because Carmen already did a pretty great job of expressing it for us. Those of us who have taken issue with a different aspect of the story could have probably done a better job of acknowledging that fact first before voicing our concerns, but being told that it’s somehow inappropriate to comment on something that was brought up by the author in the article is really not cool.

    When I wrote the post on literacy privilege I had no idea it would spread so far, and I didn’t expect or intend for it to be used as a “gotcha” in situations like this. I totally understand the impulse to tear people down who have said hurtful things, using whatever ammo you have at hand, especially something so immediately visible as spelling and grammar. This topic gets very little critical analysis in our culture, and I don’t blame people for doing what almost everyone else does without thinking much about it. But I also think that makes it even more important to talk about it when it does come up.

  8. Sometimes it’s best to just ignore things like this letter and carry on doing whatever you were doing with your loved one. But these things are everywhere. It begins to wear on one’s nerves. People need to mind their own business.Why can’t someone have a nice cup of coffee with their girlfriend without being told that they are an abomination before god? Dyslexic,literally privileged or not tear that creep down!

Comments are closed.