Can we all agree that no one is happy? Chick-Fil-A certainly does not want this kind of publicity. Even if people are showing up in droves to support them, it's just not the attention a company wants. They want to talk about their chicken sandwiches and that one mysterious pickle slice. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders are not happy. It's another scary reminder that an entire network of organizations exist in this country committed to keeping them repressed, spreading lies and fear, actively denying rights that are available to anyone else. Christians can't be too happy either--those who feel that gays are "shoving it in their face" (more on that later), threatening their beliefs, and those who feel misrepresented by the anti-gay faction in the church. I read on D Magazine's Frontburner blog yesterday this comment by Edward: "What happened to the Christianity that I grew up with? I mean, as Baptists we weren’t particularly fond of the Catholics (they drank liquor!), but all-in-all we learned about loving people and spent our money on helping out poor people in America and overseas." Christians, that comment can't make you happy, can it?
I've read Facebook. No one is happy about the situation.
Here are some thoughts on the matter.
1. It's more than just the thoughts and free speech of one person. The CEO of Chick-Fil-A said "we." He is speaking on behalf of the entire company. It's also not just what he said, but where their money is going. For example, they support the Family Research Council. That organization is pretty messed up. Among other things, they spent $25,000 to lobby Congress AGAINST condemning Uganda's "kill the gays" bill. (Yes, I know it's odd wording. There's some perverse political reasoning here, i.e. we're not supporting killing gays, we're just not condemning the killing of gays in another country.) **UPDATE: In the comments section, Aaron and Kris Rhodes clarified the Uganda issue. Make sure to read about it.**
2. Let's keep the discussion on topic. This isn't about President Obama and his flip-flop on the issue. (Why does everything lead back to "NObama"? I get it. You don't like him.) This isn't about liberals having a double standard, e.g. "so open minded, until you say something they don't like." You got me. Liberals are self-righteous. I've met some self-righteous conservatives too. Can we claim a tie? However, I don't think this is a true liberal/conservative issue. I know many conservatives who are die-hards on the issue of individual freedom and removing government interference from our personal lives. As a result, they support gay marriage. Or just think "marriage" shouldn't be a legal institution at all, whatever.
3. Facebook isn't helping. Not really. At a certain point, I feel like Brick Tamland from Anchorman: "I don't know what we're yelling about!" "Loud noises!"
4. I have a lot of former students who follow me on Twitter and sometimes read this blog. If you work at Chick-Fil-A, and you feel strongly about gay rights, you should quit Chick-Fil-A. Teenagers work fast food chains. They need you. Ultimately, you'll find another job. They'll find a replacement. But years from now, you'll feel good about taking a stand. Trust me. In high school, I spoke out at the National Youth Conference for the United Methodist Church in favor of gay rights. I received my first death threat, slid under our hotel door. It's my first and only death threat. Scary as hell, but I'm proud of what I said.
5. Yes, the boycott probably won't hurt Chick-Fil-A in the long run. They will be just fine in the months ahead. However, it's okay to boycott something even if it's unsuccessful. For instance, I boycotted the movie Clockwork Orange. I watched a little bit of it, and then turned it off. I refuse to watch it. Rotten Tomatoes has Clockwork Orange listed at 91%. People love that movie. I'm not going to win, but it's a personal moral stance and I'm allowed to it. I also know that if we boycotted every corrupt and narrow-minded corporation, we'd go insane. Point taken. We're still allowed to boycott Chick-Fil-A.
6. I also think lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT) will be fine. Too many people love and support their LGBT friends and family. Too many people care. I simply won't budge an inch on the rights of others to love and marry who they want to love and marry, and I'm certainly not alone. It's a matter of faith, love, and compassion.
7. Christians. You're not going to win this one, because even if you "win" you lose. In the end, I think this only hurts Christians. I'd recommend this book. If you're not willing to read this book, you should examine why you believe what you believe--and how seriously committed you are to "God's Truth." Or do you just mimic what others have been led to believe? Be well-read on your faith. Christians are exchanging principles of love and compassion for zeal. And while we'd like to think differently, zeal impresses no one. Love one another. Don't compartmentalize your understanding of love. Lovely freely. If God isn't loving, then I'd say the God of Christainity does not exist. The only way we know about God's love is through the love we share with one another. Christians, if you took a moment to talk with someone who is LGBT, really talk, and learned how much you were hurting them, you'd change. I sincerely believe that.
8. Gays are not "shoving homosexuality in your face." I have gay friends. I have lesbian friends. I have bisexual friends. I have transgender friends. Yes, I won LGBT friend diversity bingo. You know what we talk about? Comic books, sports, work, food, our families, pets, cool TV shows and movies. It's the same goofy conversations I have with my straight friends. I don't think in terms of gay friends/straight friends. They're just my friends. I care about all my friends, and I'm lucky to have them. My wife and I went to Round Up Saloon a while ago. It is a wonderfully, awesomely gay place. My wife and I had a great time dancing to Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson. At no point was I uncomfortable or felt like anything was being "shoved in my face." I was hanging out with friends that I don't see nearly enough, and we were all just being ourselves. That's cool.
(Straight homophobic men, are you afraid that gay men will view you with the same objectified violent viewpoint that you may have towards women? Are you afraid of being emasculated? What is it that so upsets you?)
9. And my last point, which is someone else's point. I'm not gay, so I can't truly speak on behalf of gays and their experiences. And it's not as if there's a handbook of unified gay opinion on any issue. I can only speak on my own experience and my own beliefs. However, I think my friend Richard sums it up best here:
I'm tired of all the straight folks telling me their opinions about Chick-Fil-A.
You're not the people they hate. You're not the people they discriminate against while they hide behind a good Christian banner. For every sandwich, 10 cent goes to a cause that wants to cure me. Every 5 cents goes to a cause that preaches I should be banished to an island or killed.
Eat your sandwich or your waffle fries. Have your opinion.
They hate me. They would lock me up. They would deny my relationship with Chris. They would have me banished or killed.
They publicly and financially do so.
If you feel like I misunderstood or misrepresented your perspective, by all means, post a comment. I will discuss, but I will not turn this blog into a forum for ranting and fighting. Show respect, intelligence, and self-moderation. I will do likewise.