I woke up one morning with the usual craving for something with a little caffeine and something sweet to go with it. As a teacher, I always have research to do, papers to grade, and am grateful to have a change of scenery instead of succumbing to the distractions at home. As I lay in bed before getting ready for the day, I took a few minutes to check the news, weather, and (with just a little guilt) peruse Facebook. A headline on someone’s timeline about a California bakery that was under fire for making a transgender cake caught my eye. Comparing it to the incident in Colorado, where a bakery refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple, I thought “Here we go again!” I assumed that some bigot is taking issue with a small business and giving them a hard time for not being haters. To my sadness and dismay, I saw that it was my local, favorite bakery. As I read on, I decided that I had to do something about it!

     I have a very lengthy history with this particular business. They were located a few blocks from the high school, C.K. McClatchy, that I attended in the mid 1990’s. Most mornings, I would go to the bakery to get coffee, for which I had a daily habit, and revel in the various muffins, cookies, pastries and rich, delectable cakes. Discovering the high quality of their products, tasting the incredible flavors, and enjoying the cozy atmosphere, I was happy to have this place as part of my routine. Upon introducing my family to it, Freeport Bakery became the place that our desserts were ordered for all of our special occasions, and it is still so to this day. Every birthday, anniversary, holiday, hosting people from out of town, and life event was marked with a tastefully decorated and potently flavored cake from the shop.

     When anything was served that was not purchased from Freeport bakery, it was swiftly looked down upon by myself and numerous members my family, for we knew the quality would be lower and the calories were not worth the consumption (especially amongst the ladies that were always counting them). I felt no guilt about turning my nose up at store bought products, and people close to me knew that my expectation for desserts was of the highest. My evaluation for an event would greatly decrease upon cheaply purchased dessert being served. People in numerous areas of my life ask my opinion of the dessert being served at an event, sometimes with curiosity, and other times with trepidation.

     Even though most of my adult life was spent in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would be in Sacramento for family functions and special occasions, all to be celebrated with slicing into a Freeport Bakery cake. I strived to find places of the same high quality where I lived, and in places that I visited; a very select few would compare. Now that I moved back to my hometown and greatly missed the foodie culture of the Bay Area, I knew that I could rely on Freeport Bakery for excellent and tasty products all year round. My twenty-two year relationship with this bakery was going to extend to my new husband and the family that we planned to have, being part of all of our celebrations for the extent of our future lifetimes. It was the last place that I would imagine controversy.

     After reading about them being under fire, the activist in me was activated. I felt anger and frustration at the muddled minds of those that would be hateful towards a business that was about making people happy. Not only were they being prejudiced about those who identify as transgender, believing that they deserve to not have the same freedom and equal treatment as the rest of Americans are entitled to, but they are threatening a small locally-owned business that filled an order for a customer delivering what they requested. They did not ask the customer about sexual orientation, gender identity or political views, they simply created the cake for which the customer asked. And I am certain that it was delicious! I felt rage bubble up in me that I tried to keep in check. I was angry and hurt at how hateful people could be, treating others as inhuman, but hurting other members of their own community who believed in equality and cake for all.

     I went in to the shop, and saw that they had made a replica of the controversial cake, which was placed neatly behind the counter, in plain view of customers coming in. This cake was requested by a customer for a birthday party. It was a Barbie doll cake, in which the doll was standing upright and the layers of cake in front of her were made to look like a full skirt. This particular cake was made with a Ken doll. I had to closely inspect the photo and the replica to notice that under frosting and flowers the doll itself was supposed to be male. The cake had rich layers of bright pink frosting that made the fluffy skirt of Ken’s dress. The owner had placed a photo of the cake on the business’ webpage, as she did with many of the elaborately decorated cakes that they had done over the years. People would like the business’ FB page and leave comments. What happened next was unexpected.

     Some of those looking at the cake, upon seeing that it was Ken doll instead of a Barbie interpreted it as a transgender cake, and left rude, critical, and even discriminatory remarks. A number of customers said that they would no longer patronize the shop, while others were hurtful and demeaning, clearly coming from a place of bigotry. I spoke with the owner, Marlene Goetzman, who was kind enough to take a few moments to speak with me. She had a warm presence and kind demeanor. I was surprised and very touched that she actually recognized me. I had been coming to the shop since I started high school a few blocks away. She said that despite the hurt of such terrible prejudice, they had received a remarkable amount of support, not just from the local community but from around the world. “We are in the business of spreading joy.” she told me. They did not ask questions about the purpose of the cake, they were just fulfilling the order for their customer. It is a nice and smart business practice to give the customer what they wanted, regardless of orientation, lifestyle, and views. People can live as they choose, and have baked goods along with a healthy dose of their 1st Amendment rights. Sometimes a cake is just a cake, until it becomes the center for socio-cultural and political controversy.

     Despite numerous insults and threats that the bakery received, they are carrying on with business as usual. They were busy as ever when I entered the shop, with the Ken doll cake replica in the background, smiling and covered in cream for all patrons to see. Though some have chosen to no longer shop at the bakery, there are many more of us that are not only impressed by the products themselves, but at the grace with which the business has handled this matter, and did not renounce their actions or service to their customers’ specific cake orders. Whether the Ken doll cake was indeed meant to be transgender or not, we do not know. But we do know that we can get the cake we want at this business, and they will not apologize for serving us, despite whom we are, love, worship, or choose to be. There is freedom and frosting for everyone!