Members of the US-based Westboro Baptist Church, famous for its “God Hates Fags” slogan and aggressive targeting of gay pride events and funerals, have spent the past week picketing the Aspinall Grove Milk Bar in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. The Church claims the milk bar’s owner, Mr Michael Portelli, is a “Fag enabler” because his store is the last remaining supplier of Fags, a popular candy cigarette that was removed from the market in the early nineties due to fears that it promoted smoking.
Mr Portelli says that he was confronted by the protesters upon opening his store last Monday morning.
“I open the door and a lady she push signs in my face that say ‘God Hates Fags’ and ‘God's Not Too Keen On Big Boss Candy Cigars Either’ and the other people they start chanting and yelling. I just tell them to either buy copy of Herald Sun or fuck off because I have use-by-dates to change in milk fridge.”
When questioned as to why Fags are still available at his store over a decade after the line was deleted, Mr Portelli explained that he is a “traditional milk bar owner”.
“I respect this country’s great milk bar heritage. I no wear gloves when handling mixed lollies, I no stock magazines other than hardcore porno, and, most importantly, I sell Fags. As soon as Fags were taken off the market I buy a lifetime’s supply. They are the cornerstone of my business. Today I sell a child a packet of Fags, tomorrow I sell that same child a packet of Winnie Blues. Maybe not even tomorrow - maybe same day! It is tradition.”
A Westboro spokeswoman says that aside from selling Fags, Mr Portelli engages in a range of "sinful" practices.
“We are particularly concerned about the proportion of Chicos in Mr Portelli’s pre-packed bags of mixed lollies. God hates Fags, sure, but Chicos really gross Him out."