A popular bakery in Northern California is caught at the center of a heated debate on social media over a transgender “Ken doll cake” that it said it made for a customer.
Freeport Bakery, a well-known business in Sacramento, posted a picture online nearly two weeks ago showing a special-ordered cake that depicted Ken wearing a puffy pink dress, flowery sash and a tiara.
The cake triggered controversy on Facebook, with people calling it “truly disgusting” and claiming that the owners were putting their “morals n standards for sale.”
“Naively, I guess I just thought this is a really cool cake, and look at how great they did with the butter cream,” Marlene Goetzeler, co-owner of the bakery, told Fox affiliate KTXL. “What’s wrong with a Ken cake?”
In 1987, Walter and Marlene Goetzeler bought Freeport Bakery and grew it into a booming business, according to their website. Over the years, it has been named best bakery by Sacramento Magazine readers.
After Freeport Bakery posted the picture on Aug. 13, Marlene Goetzeler said, she started seeing negative comments and soon noticed that she was losing Facebook fans.
The owners admitted on social media that they first deleted the “ugly” comments from the Facebook page because they “didn’t want drama.” Only a handful of negative comments remain with the photo.
The bakery also said that, after a flood of support for the owners, some of the negative commenters took down their posts.
“I was shocked that somebody would be offended,” Marlene Goetzeler told KTXL.
“A customer requested a Ken doll cake and we were happy to make it; she loved the cake when she picked it up,” Walter and Marlene Goetzeler said in a statement. “We were especially proud of its buttercream detail so we decided to post a photo of it on our Facebook page, as we do with many of the cakes we design and adore. We got some lovely responses along with some negative feedback.”
“We reposted the picture asking for support from our Facebook friends,” the owners said. “Luckily, we have received that support and so much more from our fans, devoted customers and staff.”
Amid an intense debate the past several years over LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, businesses across the country have made news for refusing to serve same-sex couples.
Some bakeries would not make wedding cakes for them.
Some flower shops would not make arrangements for them.
Even some pastors would not perform same-sex weddings.
Last year, Azucar Bakery in Colorado also refused to bake a cake — but for a very different reason.
A customer, identified as Bill Jack, told reporters that he believes Azucar Bakery “discriminated” against him “based on my creed,” which is Christian. He filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division some time last year, though according to his statement to reporters, Jack said he wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the complaint. But the baker in question did.
Jack walked into Azucar Bakery last March and asked for two cakes, both in the shape of Bibles. That wasn’t a problem for Marjorie Silva, the bakery’s owner. It was what Jack wanted her to write on the cake: Anti-gay phrases including “God hates gays” and an image of two men holding hands, covered in a big, red “X.”
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies later ruled that the shop had the right to do it.
The past week, supporters have been urging Freeport Bakery’s owners to “ignore the haters.”
“Amazing!” one wrote. “Love this bakery and love that you are inclusive and welcome ALL.”
Another added: “With a lot news reports saying in other states refusing to make wedding cakes for same-sex marriages, you make me proud to live in a diverse and accepting community! You have my support!”
One person said such a controversy over a cake was “silly.”
“By society’s definition I’m transgender and that fact is I am also human,” the commenter wrote. “We as a educated society should stop acting so ignorant. We should be more civilized than this. Don’t hate the creator of the cake because for those who are religious and take offense would you hate our creator God? Remember God makes no mistakes. As true as that is I say he has quite the sense of humor when he created me.”
Some customers outside the bakery seemed to take a more neutral stance.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Karen Dixson told NBC affiliate KCRA.
“There’s always going to be two sides,” Ashley Nelson told the station. “People support it or they don’t.”
Chad Graham, who told the station that he attended the birthday party for which the Ken doll cake was created, said the recipient is neither transgender nor attempting to make some sort of statement.
“I thought it was a little ridiculous,” Graham said about the issue. “It was just cake.”
This post has been updated.