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Huckleberries Online

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 14, 2005, 3:21 P.M.

A Controversial Cup of Joe

Huckleberries hears that ... the latest saying on the Starbucks "The Way I See It" series, Cup No. 43 by gay S.F. writer Armistead Maupin, is causing a stir at the CDA Starbucks. Quoth Maupin: "My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short."

Cup No. 43 has caused local customers to balk -- and has been a source of controversy in conservative circles, where it was condemned by Concerned Women for America here. Starbucks has tried to get around the sayings by controversial figures (including conservative National Review Editor Jonah Goldberg) by printing a disclaimer on the cups: "This is the author's opinion -- not necessarily that of Starbucks."

The statement's a bit disingenuous when it comes to Cup No. 43 because Starbucks has been an active promoter of "gay pride" parades. The top coffee chain sez it began the "The Way I See It” program “as an extension of the coffeehouse culture -- a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals.” Other notable quotables have been Quincy Jones, New Age author Deepak Chopra, film critic Michael Medved, Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan and coaching legend John Wooden.

Mebbe Starbucks appreciates the controversy. But most biz groups would be hesitant to alienate Liberals by publishing quotes from Conservatives, Conservatives by publishing the words of New Agers, and some Straights by publishing a comment of a Out There Gay. Mebbe that's the reason for the meely-mouthed disclaimer.

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Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.