By now, it’s a cliche to state that 2016 was one of the worst years in human history. It was a time of uncertainty, of fear, of disheartening rhetoric and maddening gaslighting. It was the year that countries decided to tear themselves apart and condemn their future generations to darkness. It was a year that saw violence and racism normalized and ignored. And saddest of all, it was the year that both Totino’s Pizza Rolls and Ore-Ida Bagel Bites refused to sponsor a gender-neutral/genderqueer LGTBQIAA+ BDSM, leather, and fetish party.
Let that sink in for a moment. A few years ago, we saw an outpouring of support from every major corporation imaginable as gay marriage became the law of the land. Even Campbell’s Soup was saying that gay people were “mm, mm good.” Now that marriage equality had come to America, we knew the fight for rights was over and all LGBTQIAA+ people would finally be treated as equals. Or so we all unanimously thought.
Fast forward a few years later and we can’t even get some cheap and affordable pizza tossed our way by two of the largest food conglomerates in the world. Totino’s, Ore-Ida: I’m not asking you to provide lifetime free pizza to every person marginalized for being queer or into BDSM. I’m just asking for a couple hundred pizza rolls or bagel bites every few months so that we can come together as a queer family, enjoy a nice warm meal, and get our buttholes electrocuted. I guess when the electorate decided to “make America great again,” this is what they meant: no more butthole electrocution.
By now you’ve heard our desperate request for even the slightest show of solidarity from Totino’s and/or Ore-Ida. They weren’t interested. They didn’t seem to care about the extensive past we had together. Totino’s and Ore-Ida, I have given you my all and what do I have to show for it? Thousands of Pizza Rolls and Bagel Bites eaten, hundreds of dollars spent. The carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from your products went into building the queer body that I inhabit. You are a part of me as much as I am a part of you.
We need Pizza Rolls. We need Bagel Bites. These are dire times, but hey, we will take what we can get so, Red Baron Pizza, please. We implore you. Do not ignore this call to action. Queer youth comprise 1 in 3 homeless people on the streets. In most states, people in the BDSM lifestyle have no protections. CAN YOU PLEASE JUST GIVE US THIS ONE THING?
You can't hide behind a wall of family values. You make frozen pizza. Frozen pizza is about the deconstruction of the traditional dogma of the American family. It is about taking the central concept of dinner and turning it into an afterthought. It is about freeing people from the shackles of domesticity so that they may pursue something more transcendent. Maybe that something is creating art. Or perhaps that something is volunteering in your community. Or maybe--just maybe--that something you're looking for is getting vacuum-sealed into a rubber compression suit while a 60-year-old you've never met edges you with a room full of strangers leering at you. One thing is for sure. These people need food. So why not Red Baron?
Is Red Baron Pizza good? Of course not. But neither is 2017 and we readily accept that. Nobody chooses to eat Red Baron. But you know what: nobody chooses to be gay, nobody chooses to be genderfluid, and nobody chooses to like getting their butthole electrocuted. But you just have to play the hand you were dealt. We didn’t want to have to fight for visibility and acceptance, the same way you didn’t want to make pizza out of subpar pepperoni and shredded cheese-like product.
Queer people can make the best of a bad situation, Red Baron Pizza. Oftentimes, we aren’t given a choice. But we will always try even when the odds are slim. Red Baron Pizza, surely we have that in common. Surely we can overcome terrible odds, insufferable conditions, and a complete lack of access to quality product to come together and say, once and for all, “Sure, this is fine.”
Red Baron Pizza, please. This may be our last chance to get a pizza-sponsored sex party going. Queer lives are like the toilet bowl after you eat an entire Red Baron pizza: nobody knows what’s going to happen next but it probably won’t be pretty. Help us, Red Baron. Show us that tolerance has a place in the world still.
Or don’t. Maybe it’s just what we’ve come to expect from our frozen pizzas.
Julian Modugno was your average mid-level antagonistic queer happy to just relax until some bullshit went down in his country of origin. Now he fights the good fight by making politics seem even worse at his regular politicomedy free-for-all, Debate ATL.