This past weekend, Food Network star Guy Fieri officiated a mass wedding for 101 same-sex couples in Miami, Florida, celebrating the state’s recent lift of its ban on equal marriage. Organized by celebrity chef (and Florida native) Art Smith, the event was held on Miami Beach and ended with a celebration including a seven tier cake made by yet another celebrity chef, Duff Goldman.
But wait: Isn’t Guy Fieri a homophobe?
Back in 2011, Guy was reported to have made homophobic comments behind-the-scenes of his show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The show’s former producer, David Page, alleged that the TV personality “needed protection from homosexuals, or at least advance warning.” From a story in the Minneapolis City Pages:
“Guy had decided that the two men running the restaurant were life partners,” Page remembers. “He said, ‘You can’t send me to talk to gay people without warning! Those people weird me out!'”
From then on, show researchers were required to note any indications of homosexuality detected during pre-interviews. (Fieri declined to comment for this story through his spokespeople.)
Former field producer Kari Kloster confirms that Fieri made the odd demand about gay guests…
Guy Fieri’s publicist later denied these claims. From Eater:
As for being a homophobe, they called it an “outlandish” and “ridiculous” claim. “The fact that the only confirmation of this comes from a producer who currently draws a paycheck from Page is telling,” they said. “Guy’s own sister, who recently passed away, was gay.”
Morgan Fieri died from melanoma that January, 10 months before the alleged homophobia. Her obituary detailed her life as a “gifted massage therapist” and philanthropist, citing her work at Mexican orphanages and her passion for the environment. She also served as the founding director of her brother’s foundation, The Guy Fieri Foundation for Inspiration and Imagination, and was survived by her partner and son, then age 11.
Guy Fieri’s first cook book after Morgan’s passing was, in his words, “a very emotional thing” for him, and he dedicated it to her as well as getting a tattoo on his arm in her honor.
“‘Namaste’ was something that my sister would say to me every day. ‘Namaste,’ which means the God in me. She was such a teacher of our family. She would tell us about organics and about recycling and I’d be like, ‘c’mon.’ but she would always be in my ear about it again and again. She would always be saying that as a message, so we put that as the dedication of the book.
It gave me the biggest sigh of relief because what it does for me — and it does for my parents and my nephew — is that my sister lives on forever. My sister lives on in the book shelves and in the homes, with the families of people forever. And that’s a weird thing that that’s what I needed to do, but it’s like climbing the highest mountain and scratching her name in the world. It’s incredibly cathartic.”
Stephanie and Nicole Griffin-Swanson were one of the 101 couples to be married by Guy, and Stephanie said she had no idea Guy was reportedly anti-gay before the event.
“I honestly didn’t know anything about all that until after the ceremony and we went surfing for press articles about the event after the fact. When Nicole and I first arrived to the event, Art immediately ushered us into the private area for the chefs before the start of the ceremony. He took us right up to meet Guy and he was nothing but sincere, friendly and happy for us,” Stephanie said. “We were happy to see that his real self was quite a bit different than his TV persona. I can say that his service, dedicated to his late sister Morgan (who was a lesbian and died of cancer kind of recently), was touching and special and I was moved. He made the moment extremely memorable for us.”
Stephanie and Nicole met at a nightclub in Indianapolis while Stephanie was bartending and DJing. Although it took five years of friendship before they fell for one another, they knew they wanted to get married early into their romantic relationship.
“But we weren’t going to do it until it became legal,” Stephanie said. “We were living in Indiana at the time, so it seemed like it would never be a possibility. We moved to Florida a couple of years ago, and lo and behold, it became legal in Indiana first! Who knew? So we were honestly discussing going back to Indiana, but it really didn’t make sense considering we were now living in Florida. We kept a close eye on the legal cases that were being brought forth before the courts here in Florida. We cursed Pam Bondi on a daily basis. And then what seemed like the the impossible happened. Florida fell in line, too, in the first week of January 2015. The question became now when and where? Enter Chef Art Smith.”
The couple found out about Art’s initial tweet, inviting the first 101 same-sex couples to respond to be a part of the big day, and suddenly, they were getting married.
“Almost immediately, he tweeted a congratulations to us! It seemed like a once in a lifetime experience,” Stephanie said. ” I love the chefs that were involved, we are in South Beach a lot and we’re a little unconventional anyway, so it seemed right up our alley. Plus, it solved the when and where debate for us!”
By all appearances, it would seem that even if Guy Fieri has made homophobic remarks in the past, he is now publicly showing his alliance to the LGBT community and his love for his late sister. Couples like Stephanie and Nicole are feeling that support.
“Though our wedding didn’t happen exactly how we imagined it over the past four years and we weren’t able to have everyone that we wanted to share in the day there with us, we were given a gift that we will never forget,” Stephanie said. “And the fact that we were able to marry, legally and openly, makes me/us feel whole and equal and a part of this momentous shift in our country. It feels pretty amazing!”
People have the capacity to change and it could be that Guy Fieri is one of those people. He chose to be a part of an event like this and speak from a personal place on a day that was special for 101 same sex couples who are finally able to get married in the state of Florida. You can now feel a little better about supporting his restaurants, shows or other parts of his highly successful franchise, because he supports you.