Bonefish Harry’s, a Massachusetts restaurant with locations in Beverly and Lynn, shared a letter this week it said it received after hanging an LGBTQ Pride flag outside its locations.
Owen Donaldson, the Beverly resident who wrote the letter, said he had eaten at the restaurant several times but would not patronize it any longer “because you have chosen to publically support activity which is immoral.”
Said the restaurant in a Facebook post sharing the letter: “To all of our loyal guests, today we received this letter declaring our restaurant immoral for hanging a Gay Pride flag from our restaurant in support of our fellow humans for Gay Pride Month. We consider this letter an attempt to bully us to remove our flag and to slander our business. We will not stand for this type of behavior and will never give in to these types of unaccepting bigoted people. We will always stand side by side with everyone in our community! We will continue to fly this flag and we are proud to show our support for all of our community members.”
The letter was posted on June 12 and immediately received thousands of shares. But some commenters questioned the authenticity of the letter, accusing the restaurant of faking it.
The Salem News reports: “The Salem News attempted to locate a person by the name of Owen Donaldson living in Beverly or on the North Shore. But a search of public records, including the city clerk’s resident lists for Beverly and several area communities, property records, available phone listings, social media, and a general search of the internet shows no one by that name living in the area.”
The restaurant returned to Facebook on Thursday, defending the authenticity of the letter, writing: “Facebook world, we appreciate the out pouring of support from everyone near and far. We want to make sure the focus of this is on accepting everyone in our community without bias and prejudgement. We are aware that there are people questioning the validity of the letter, the author and whether our restaurant had written this letter. We have no idea who Owen is or if he really exists. We 100% did not write this letter or know who did. What we do know is that we support everyone in our community and welcome everyone in our restaurants. Now lets get back to tacos and maitais!”
They have since announced a benefit for LGBTQ youth as well: “We are proud to announce that we have partnered with North Shore Alliance of GLBTQ Youth and their President Kirsten Freni for a couple of fundraisers for the group this summer. We will be selling rainbow tie die t shirts at both of our restaurants starting next week with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the group. We are also planning a couple of great nights in both Lynn and Beverly to raise money and awareness for this great cause.”