An Italian-American mom in Connecticut was among the first to launch a petition campaign after CEO Guido Barilla said his pasta company would not include gay families in its advertising.
Linda Ferraro is working with GLAAD to circulate her Change.org petition, which called on her neighborhood grocery to stop carrying Barillas.
“As an Italian-American mom, some of my favorite memories are of sitting around the dinner table with my husband and our three sons on Sunday after church,” she writes. “Lots of tomato sauce, lots of laughs and lots of Barilla. In fact, there are several boxes of Barilla sitting in my cabinet right now. That is about to change.
“My grandparents moved to Brooklyn, NY from Italy and taught me that family is more important than anything. I remembered that tradition when my son Rich was a teenager and cried at our dinner table as he told me he was gay. Even though my sons are adults now, no one messes with any of my boys. I shop at Stop & Shop, and now that I dumped Barilla, I think they should, too.”
Another online petition, which collected more than 10,000 signatures in 24 hours, was launched by Dario Fo, an Italian Nobel Prize winner, director and actor who starred in Barilla's first TV commercials.
His petition asks Guido to “return to the spirit of those commercials.”
His petition states, “I ask you, Barilla Pasta, to reflect the true Italy of today and become an ambassador of equality and a voice of the present. And I ask you to commit to an upcoming advertising campaign, where the family can finally be represented in all its infinite and wonderful shapes of our times.”
Barilla, in an interview on Italian radio, said he didn’t plan to market to the gay community or to feature gay families in his advertising, and if gay people don’t like that they can buy and eat another brand.
He later apologized, saying he has “the greatest respect for gays and for the freedom of expression of anyone.”