During Wednesday, August 3rd’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” a day dedicated to showing support for company president Dan Cathy’s condemnation of same sex marriage, a 24 year old gay employee at an Alabama Chick-fil-A restaurant, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisal, sat in his car smoking a cigarette and watching the crowd during a break.
“I call it hater appreciation day,” said the young man. “It’s very, very depressing.”
Cathy came under praise/fire for saying that he was “guilty as charged” for backing the “biblical definition of a family. We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” He’s also put his money where his mouth is: he has donated millions to the Family Research Council (designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and to Exodus International, a Christian ministry that endorses the “curing” of gay people.
And that, of course, is Cathy’s right. It’s a free country.
So it’s also Boston mayor Thomas Menino’s right to send a letter to Mr. Cathy stating his company was not welcome in his city, and it is also Alderman Proco Moreno of Chicago’s right not to move forward on land-use legislation that the company would need in order to open a second restaurant in that city. And if the Jim Henson Company wants to stop providing Muppet toys for the chain’s kiddie meals, and instead donate that money to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, it can do that, too.
It’s ping pong out there.
The whole kerfuffle came about when former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee declared Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” after Cathy made his comments.
On that Wednesday, the company reports, all sales records were broken.
A “kiss-in” counter protest by gay rights activists was scheduled for Friday.
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum tweeted, “With two of my boys, enjoying chick-in-strips and an awesome peach shake at Chick-fil-A. See you here next Wednesday!” In his defense, I have heard Chick-fil-A’s peach shakes really are to-die-for.
Andrew Mullen, a gay 26 year old Chick-fil-A employee, recounted going out to the parking lot and chatting with a trucker who turned to him and said, “If I see one more faggot at a Chick-fil-A protesting, I’m going to be sick.”
“I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t want to hear that,’” Mullen told a reporter. “I thought, Chick-fil-A doesn’t promote hatred, we don’t cuss and we don’t hate.” But Cathy’s actions, and those of folks like the trucker, have changed his opinion. “Honestly, I really wish they would just go out of business, I do.”
Friday’s kiss-in counter protest turned out to be a bit of a bust. In Decatur, Georgia, two dozen protestors showed up bearing McDonald’s bags, rainbow flags, and signs reading, “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not eating.”
They declined the free lemonade offered them by Chick-fil-A employees.
I think they should’ve accepted the lemonade as an expression of solidarity with the Chick-fil-A workers. It’s like war protestors: don’t get pissed at the grunt on the ground, save your righteous anger for the puppet masters, the generals and the politicians; take that lemonade and throw it at Mr. Cathy if you want.
But it may be that the low kiss-in turnout was not just a matter of apathy, but rather strategy: Mark Segal, publisher of the “Philadelphia Gay News” opined, “It plays right into the fears of the right wing and what they’ve always thought: we just want to have sex whenever we can.”
(well, I dare say we all feel that way. It’s just that most of us choose – or rather, it’s chosen for us by unreasonably prudish wives, husbands, bfs and gfs – not to act on it)
Gay rights activist Pam Spaulding mused, “Of course, it’s possible that Americans – sexual orientation aside – are simply more moved by the promise of a crispy chicken patty than they are the opportunity for a little PDA.”
Hope she’s right: I’d much prefer to think that our stomachs trump our hate, and not the other way around.