A Georgia cattle farmer was declined by the US Department of Agriculture when he applied for a special interstate transport license just because his address included a “banned” word.

When Paul King found out why his application had been rejected, he was crushed. “No one has an issue traveling to Gay, Georgia,” he remarked. He added that living in Gay, Georgia is no problem for him. The USDA, on the other hand, has a problem with the name Gay, Georgia. However, when spoken in a general setting,” according to King, this name might be perplexing.


“I have gay friends.”

“Here in Gay, Georgia?”

“No, not in Gay, Georgia.”

“You have gay friends outside of Gay.”

“Outside of Gay, yeah.”

Georgia’s first known gay city was named for a woman, Georgia. The name was given in 1907 and stems from William F. Gay. Around 100 people live in the town about an hour south of Atlanta. They hold a huge event twice a year, once known as the “Gay Fair.” Now it’s called the Cotton Pickin’ Festival since it used to be a cotton picking event.

This month, Gene obtained a “Premises Number” from the USDA to enable him to buy and sell cattle across state lines. He was able to do so after he completed the form. “She said it’s kicking it out saying that’s an offensive word and won’t accept your application,” King recounted.

The USDA responded with a solution that might most likely work, in light of the banned word. They decided to modify Gene’s hometown on the application from “Gay” to “Bay,” despite the cattle farmer’s refusal. “And I said no, I don’t want to submit it as Bay, Georgia,” he continued. “I want to submit it as Gay, Georgia because that’s where I live. And she said do you want a number or not.”

The USDA gave him a new number, and then King’s city was manually corrected back to Gay.

King stated, “I said, ma’am. This is ridiculous.”

The USDA released a statement owing to this problem:

“The premises identification allocator was originally developed in the early 2000s for the National Animal Identification System, using the technology available at the time. The program was very contentious and IT developers were concerned about the possibility of people attempting to create “bad” premises IDs to prove there was a problem with the program or its IT systems. They created a database of words with bad connotations that would not be allowed in the system.”

This Gay cattle rancher’s story has a good ending. He was given his Premises Number and out-of-state cattle, as promised. And they never took away his pride, no matter what the federal government claimed.

He stated, “My name is Gene King. I live here in Gay, Ga. That’s G-A-Y, not B-A-Y.”

I am a huge admirer of Gene King, who is the type of individual we all should look up to and be respected. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your roots. You should not be ashamed of any place name, no matter how unpleasant it makes you feel. Being embarrassed about your town name is akin to feeling awkward about your given name. So make yourself heard and confident, just like Gene King did.

What are your thoughts on the USDA’s regulations? Was it appropriate for them to use workarounds when Gene Kings’ application was rejected because the system would not accept his “offensive” town name?