By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

SOMERSWORTH, NH — A popular café and coffee shop has caused nearly heart attacks among religious conservatives in their local neighborhood over a pretty boy queer-inclusive billboard posted for Pride last month.

The ad for Teatotaller highlights a young 18-25 year old in pink eyeshadow and daisy duke shorts posing with his legs akimbo as he’s about to bite into a sandwich.

“I like my men like I like my coffee,” the billboard, which was erected June 22, reads.

One thing that this reporter can’t figure out is that the popular eye catching marketing campaign is nothing new for Teatotaller which is well known as “an oasis of queer, hipster tea, coffee, and pastry goodness” on their Facebook.

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But for some reason, this particular billboard is driving conservatives crazy to the point to where they have left nearly 160 comments on the Teatotaller Facebook page. While yes that number is seriously low, it goes to show that many are still having issues with their own insecurities of their own sexuality and know the only way they’ve been taught and that lash out at the LGBTQ community with hate for no reason other than to give a person their own warped sense of self worth.

The billboard also caught the eye of Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard, who acknowledged that while it may “push the limits” of some locals’ “comfort level,” it’s nonetheless a prime example of a free market society. “Living within a democratic society which values First Amendment guaranteed rights, discussion and discourse means that we will be exposed to opinions and sometimes ads which are counter to the way we think,” Mayor Hilliard told The Foster’s Daily Democrat.

Teatotaller’s co-owners Emmett Soldati and Palana Belken sent an email to Huffington Post defending the billboard:

“Our aim is to be “provocative, but only in a way that we, a local business and local personality, were already doing. From our modest beginnings in 2011, Teatotaller has sought to inspire, excite, and engage a community of citizens looking for vibrancy and decadence. We are a venue for everyone looking for cosmopolitan flair in a sleepy town,” Soldati and Belken, who said they received positive feedback to the ad from customers, wrote. “Over the course of our history, this has included embracing the weird, the eccentric, and the queer. Going against the tide of establishments one might expect in a small working-class downtown, Teatotaller has always ‘stuck its neck out’ and stood up for the values and aesthetics it admires.”

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The owners of Teatotaller also gave thanks to the “self-confidence, flair and fabulousness” of 18-year-old Somersworth native Michael Cummings who was the hot model in the billboard ad. “Like Teatotaller, Michael is a product of Somersworth – not some external influence,” they wrote. “This is what has made the project so special.”

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