Michigan mechanic Brian Klawiter’s anti-gay rant: Are nuts and bolts the only way to hold things together?

This Anti-Gay Michigan Mechanic Says Joining Things Requires Nuts and Bolts. Is That True?

This Anti-Gay Michigan Mechanic Says Joining Things Requires Nuts and Bolts. Is That True?

Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
April 17 2015 5:18 PM

A Gay-Friendly Guide to Joining and Fastening

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Not the only way!

Stocksnapper / Shutterstock.com

First it was pizza; now it’s cars. In the wake of the fracas over Indiana’s “religious liberty” law and similar proposals in states around the country, the latest proud American business owner to declare he no longer desires the money of LGBTQ and most other decent-minded people is Brian Klawiter, the entrepreneur behind Dieseltec, a diesel auto shop in Grandville, Michigan. In a cri de coeur posted to the company Facebook page on Tuesday, Klawiter wrote that the rights of conservative Americans are being “squashed” and that, in response, he would welcome gun enthusiasts to his establishment and “would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.”

J. Bryan Lowder J. Bryan Lowder

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate associate editor and the editor of Outward. He covers life, culture, and LGBTQ issues.

Klawiter’s statement has, predictably, garnered Dieseltec a tsunami of negative attention, from one-star Yelp reviews to reporting on the fact that he does not hold a city business license to, most amusingly, a wonderfully shady offer of assistance from a Grand Rapids bankruptcy lawyer. (It’s worth noting that Klawiter has reported threats of violence against his property and family, actions which LGBTQ advocacy groups like the HRC are actively discouraging, and rightly so.) A number of critics picked up on his earthy bolts-and-nuts metaphor, interpreting it to suggest that Klawiter would purposefully misassemble a gay customer’s car in order to make his point. He quickly clarified this (admittedly ungenerous) reading in a sic-filled update on Thursday:

I never threatened to intentionally put someones vehicle together wrong, use you sense, (although it may not have been the best way to elaborate) You need a bolt and a nut to hold something together, two bolts can not, and two nuts can not, you must have one of each, a male and a female. Get it now?
briank
Brian Klawiter.

Still from Fox17 news report.

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While we here at Outward will probably not be seeking Dieseltec’s services anytime soon, we appreciate Klawiter’s invitation to use our sense. That feels like an opening for dialogue, and so, in the interest of productive engagement, we’d like to suggest to the gentleman and others like him that there are in fact more ways of holding two things together than the nuts and bolts obsessively dreamt of in their philosophy. Indeed, given that even the lesbian among us admits to being unschooled in the building arts, we turned to Google to check Klawiter’s claim—and we were delighted to find a range of joining options beyond that venerable but limited model.

To begin, there’s the old-fashioned and appealingly straightforward practices of nailing and screwing, neither of which require nuts per se, instead simply relying on an accommodating receiver of some sort and a willingness to pound, twist, or otherwise thrust the fastener into place. There’s also a method that should be familiar to all the Scouts out there—lashing—in which two (or more!) poles are bound to each other within the firm grip of a constraining agent. Finally, the fine craft of wood joinery also offers a number of appealing techniques, such as the dovetail (in which notches in two boards are pushed tightly together), the butt joint (which a source praises as being able to “hold up fairly heavy loads”), and the tongue-and-groove joint, about which we learned that “often both tongue and groove are curved slightly so that the tongue needs to enter the groove at an angle.”

As you can see, this is fascinating stuff;  it’s a shame that a craftsman like Klawiter forgot—likely in the heat of his anti-gay, anti-government ranting—to mention them. But that’s what constructive dialog is all about! Hopefully this brief dive into the rich world of coupling will remind everyone that human beings have come up with a lot of ingenious ways to join things, and even if we don’t favor them all, it’s bad manners—and clearly bad business—to speak ill of those who prefer different ones.