Like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, the annual Starbucks holiday cup controversy arrives earlier every year.

The 2017 Tempest in a Venti Cup comes courtesy of BuzzFeed reporter Venessa Wong, who theorizes that the couple depicted holding hands is a pair of lesbians. “Is Starbucks’ New Holiday Cup Totally Gay?” reads the headline.

Whether they are or aren’t is a matter of artistic/social/political interpretation. The drawing — it’s part of a festive Christmas tree, snowflakes and holiday gifts design — shows only two sweater-wearing arms (one with bracelets) and clasped hands. The non-bracelet-wearing hand appears to be slightly larger.

Starbucks had no comment on the gender of the arms/hands. BuzzFeed quoted the illustrator as saying in a press release: “I like the idea of hands at the center point, a symbol of connection, love and giving joy — whether it’s wrapping presents or decorating a tree, writing cards or enjoying a mug of cocoa.”

This year’s brouhaha (brewhaha?) follows last year’s, when Starbucks was accused of being anti-religious by featuring a green “unity” theme on its cups. The chain’s holiday cup tradition dates back to 1997; that first cup was — gasp! — purple. (You can see all the designs here.)

A report on FoxNews4 in Texas on the hands cup resulted in some strong opinions and calls for Starbucks to come out with a “Merry Christmas” design. “America needs to boycott them and put them out of business,” tweeted Linda Grace Howard at @lindagrace6390.

But by Friday, much of the Twittersphere seemed to be delighting in or rejecting the new controversy.

“It’s true. I was heterosexual when I woke up Tuesday morning. But then after stopping at Starbucks for a Caramel Brûlée (seriously people….try this! So good) I became gay. Who else am I to blame but that damn paper cup?!?” tweeted Erika at @els9874.

Legendary “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings weighed in with: “Is it me or does the idiotic “holiday Starbucks” Fox News cycle start earlier every year?!?”

And Kirstyn (@kirstysimp) tweeted, “Drink your damn coffee and find something more important to worry about.”


(c)2017 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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