I’d heard of Chick-fil-A before all of this shit started. There are few-to-no Chick-fil-A locations in New England (and if they do exist, I haven’t found them yet), so I’ve never had the opportunity to try their product. It’s looking less likely that I ever will, given the recent circumstances. In June and July 2012, Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy went public supporting what he believes to be “the traditional family,” arguably shooting himself in the foot by putting a widely known financial backing towards identified hate groups such as the Family Research Council. On the company’s dime.
Since all of this went public, it seems that everyone has an opinion about it. I’ve heard from people that he’s a monster and that they’ll never eat at another Chick-fil-A as long as they’re still backing anti-gay organizations. I’ve heard other people come forward and say how they agree and would gladly continue as a patron to this company. And it’s not only people that I know and trust and love. There are plenty of celebrities, politicians, and other business owners that are supporting either side of the situation. And people keep asking me where I stand on the issue. Here you go:
It saddens me deeply that equal rights are not values that are built into everyone’s hearts. There are those out in parts of America (and even here in our own backyard) that believe in marriage in the traditional sense: Holy matrimony between a man and a woman. A lot of those same people see my lifestyle as evil and corrupt, much like I would feel about, for instance, rapists or child molestors. It’s not fair, and I very much disagree with Dan Cathy’s financial support for organizations that are basically anti-me/anti-my-people.
However, I would like to add that Dan Cathy has every right to speak his opinion.
Yes, he openly supports the Christian (or should I instead say “conservative”) depiction of marriage. I support a more free-loving view on the ol’ nuptial agreements. And we both have that right. And he has never said that I don’t have the right to say what I think about it, or think what I think. He just disagrees and has more money than I do. It sucks, and hopefully there’ll be power in numbers on my side of things, but until then he should have the right to say what he wants to say, and also the intelligence to listen and try to appreciate other’s opinions on this matter. However, a lot of people often get butt-hurt when our freedom of speech doesn’t come with the Happy Meal toy: freedom of criticism.
The response to his statements has been uproarious, on both sides. Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Company, severed ties with Chick-fil-A after years of supplying toys for their children’s meals. She even went one step further and is directing any money that was to be paid by Chick-fil-A to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Political hopeful, Mike Huckabee, responded to the Chick-fil-A protests by initiating a counter-protest on August 1st, “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” The celebration was a financial success, with some stores even running out of food. Supporters of gay rights reacted with a same-sex “kiss day,” where they would enter a Chick-fil-A location and share a kiss to raise equality awareness, on August 4th. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino personally wrote a letter to Cathy, expressing his distaste for the way he conducts business with personal beliefs peppered in. He also noted that he had caught wind of Chick-fil-A’s search for a location in Boston’s metropolitan area, and informed him that the chain was not welcome to open a franchise. He said he’d personally see to it that they didn’t open a location in his city.
One protestor spoke out in a very cheeky way. Willam Belli, an actor and drag performer in Hollywood, used his recent RuPaul’s Drag Race platform and “supported” Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay efforts. Taking Wilson Phillips’ smash hit “Hold On” and rearranging the lyrics to be more appropo, Belli took parodies to the next level and used it as an unwelcome endorsement. The lyrics encourage people to simply ignore Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay stance and eat there, “even if you’re gay.” The parody, entitled “Chow Down (at Chick-fil-A),” features Belli in drag with two other queens going through the drive-thru, laying on the floor naked covered in Chick-fil-A wrappers, and in jacuzzis with muscle men feeding them chicken sandwiches. As this goes to print, the video is almost at 2 million views on YouTube.
“I didn’t really have Chick-fil-A growing up in the Northeast, so my friends Detox and Vicky from the video brought me there, and I was like ‘damn, this is good!’” Belli said at the NewNowNext Awards. “But they were telling me that they hate gay people. I was like ‘why are we eating here?’ And they were like, ‘it’s just so good!’ So we decided to make the anti-endorsement. It’s like if John Wayne Gacy endorsed a children’s toy. You wouldn’t want that endorsement! So, it’s kind of like our reverse psychology, ‘don’t eat there… but if you do, whatever, it’s all you.’”
So with all of this backlash and support going back and forth, who is really getting the raw end of the deal? Is it the gays, with their helpless struggle for marriage equality in a world that doesn’t agree? Is it the hardcore Bible-thumpers that just can’t seem to reach a happy, fruitful existence surrounded by these drastically high levels of sin? Both sides are getting so much media attention that someone has flown under the radar. Did anyone that is boycotting Chick-fil-A and walking in to get a large waters stop and think, “who is directly affected by my actions?” Because I hate to tell you, but it’s not Dan Cathy. He’s gonna be just fine with his millions. Who you’re really hurting is the guy that used his life savings to open up a branch of the Chick-fil-A franchise, thinking that he’d be able to bring in some money for the family that he and his wife are planning to start building. And if there’s enough budget cuts due to protest and that same store owner has to start making adjustments, can you guess what’s happening next? That scared 16-year-old girl with a newborn at home might be the one to get axed. Then you’d really be sticking it to Dan Cathy’s religulous beliefs and practices. Yes, I get it; there will be less money available to send to anti-gay groups. But keep in mind what you’re really doing, who it is that’s really getting the raw end of things.
The whole idea that people are going to change the world’s mind about marriage equality by boycotting chicken sandwiches sounds a little ridiculous when you break it down.
People are only hurting the franchise owner and his staff, not the big wigs. One thing it did was spark a flash fire of media attention. So good, now that we’ve got a pedestal on which to stand, try contacting Congressional representatives and let them know how you feel. Or volunteer with a gay non-profit that is fighting for marriage equality. You could even do what Lisa Henson is doing and take a slice of your paycheck directly to one of these non-profits. That’s how change will come about–not by foregoing waffle fries.
And furthermore, how is harassing an employee at a drive-thru window helping the cause? If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s all over YouTube. This dude cruised through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru and berated a poor young girl who was just doing her job, asking how she could sleep at night and telling her to quit ’cause she could “do so much better.” I get that people are angry, but acting out and smashing glasses never got you what you wanted with your parents when you were young. But rather sitting down with them and coming to a common ground, that’s how you see results. Causing a scene? Not so much.
So now that this has surfaced, it seems that people are having a huge West Side Story-style battle in their minds as to what businesses they choose to offer up patronage. People caught wind of Dan Cathy’s religious, traditional standpoint (come on, guys, it took you that long; they’re closed on Sundays), and now the shitstorm of different businesses that support certain organizations are starting to be revealed. Do you think that every business should be required to go public about what kind of organizations they’ve donated company money towards? The Human Rights Campaign has it all broken down as to which companies comply to their standards and which don’t. After all, people should probably have a right to know that the proceeds from a McRib sandwich might have either helped build schools in Uganda, or were donated to some kind of backwoods group hell-bent on white supremacy or something. Famously anti-gay rights and pro-life founder of Domino’s Pizza, Thomas S. Monaghan, financially backed a ballot initiative to have sexual orientation removed from a Michigan city’s nondescrimination ordinance in 2001.
What’re your thoughts on this tasty situation? I honestly thought this would’ve blown over by now, but the fire’s still burning, so share your thoughts.