Exclusive: Tim Wendelboe’s Gay Slur Apology

A little bit of context: Yesterday afternoon a brouhaha broke out on Twitter that embroiled your Sprudge editors, right as the final World Barista Championship announcements were set to begin. Twitter user Christopher @procopecoffee tweeted the following:

@procopecoffee was referring to some of the language used in Mr. Wendelboe’s Tamper Tantrum Live presentation the day before (this video is currently unavailable). The concept of Mr. Wendelboe’s speech was – ironically enough – what language means for quality in specialty coffee, and it’s true that Mr. Wendelboe, a noted Oslo-based roaster and 2004 World Barista Champion, used two separate gay slurs on stage during this speech. We were shocked not just because of the words, but because we know Mr. Wendelboe personally to be a tolerant and open-minded guy.

So what the hell happened here? We sat down with Tim, gave him a chance to apologize, and snapped a shot of him happily supporting our marriage equality #yesequal campaign:

Sprudge: Thanks for talking with us, Tim. Tell us in your own words what happened.

Tim: I was having a Tamper Tantrum lecture bout improving quality… and I think it was when I was talking about concepts, that third wavers are very hung up on improving concepts – especially in competition, where rules are very narrow, and sort of making things so the baristas have less freedom.

Uh, so, they have to sort of create concepts and explain concepts for the judges to understand what they serve. And then uh, it was a joke, I mean…I said “they’re all a bunch of homos”, it was a joke. It had nothing to do with gay people at all – it’s a use of the word I learned from Australians.

Sprudge: In this age, to be a gay or lesbian person, those words when said as a joke can be taken the wrong way, and people can take offense to that. There’s a lot of bullying in America, a lot of hateful speech. So to some who hear that or take offense to that, do you want to apologize?

Tim: Yes. That was really not my intent at all, and I have never thought about it like that way, and I’m actually glad that people are addressing it - I never want to offend people about sexual preference, because I don’t really care what sexual preference you have. I guess, my uh, in Norwegian we use a lot of swear words all the time, and for me, to speak English, you some times get swear words from movies and hear how those words are used, and it just came to mind while I was on stage. It is interesting to me, because I have never actually used those words in Norwegian – you know, like “gay”, in a bad way. It was not my intention to offend people.

Sprudge: I think, you know, this is something that a lot of people (and honestly we have been guilty of this) say in private, with friends, but we culturally have a different expectation when it’s in a public forum, when you’re talking live to thousands of people on the internet.

Tim:
Well I’m not here to offend people, and the message of the whole lecture was not about this at all. I will for sure moderate my language when I am doing lectures; for some reason, I got a little bit carried away, and I am sorry for using that language, and sorry for the offense it has caused.

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