Straight Talk: Chick-Fil-A and the culture divide

Nick_columnAlmost a year ago, Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, galvanized both sides of the gay marriage debate when he sent a very strong message about his beliefs concerning the subject.

“I think we are 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,’” Cathy said. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Cathy also presented Chick-fil-A as “supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.”

This man doesn’t like divorcees either? I hope Elizabeth Taylor never ate there.

Yes, this is another opinion piece about Bigot Chicken. There’s been a billion articles about it. Hang with me here, because there is something deeper going on beneath the fryers. I’m not going to explain why I will never eat at one of these places, but I will say that Cathy’s statement isn’t what spurred my boycott the most.

As one of my Facebook friends once said so eloquently, “I don’t care that Chick-fil-A is against gay marriage. I care that Chick-fil-A donates to organizations that literally want homosexuals DEAD. AS IN NOT ALIVE ANYMORE.”

What my compatriot referred to was the Family Research Council (FRC), which has spent $25,000 dollars lobbying the United States Congress to not condemn the infamous “Kill The Gays” bill in Uganda. Chick-fil-A donated to the Winshape Foundation, and in turn they donated to the FRC. This may be a few degrees of separation, but we have to wonder how accountable these organizations should be concerning where their money goes.

Furthermore, we should care about where our own money ends up as well. I’m not saying we should boycott every company that doesn’t have our political alignment; that is exceedingly impossible.

However, there are cases, like this one, where it is so clear cut that I don’t understand how anyone who cares about gay rights could have ever spent money at Chick-fil-A. There have been times where this frustrated me beyond belief, tearing down my temper like it was never there at all.

Just like that, this is where my commitment to staying a fair and peaceful activist starts to crack. It’s not what Cathy said or what most people of his same beliefs say, but what others don’t say that burns me. With intolerance I know what to say. It’s practically a reflex to debate with an opponent of equality.

It’s the indifferent people that render me frustrated because I don’t know how to fight that, especially when it comes to friends and family. It feels strangely personal to have Chick-fil-A food bags cross the threshold of my house. I seem unheard when those close to me talk about how much they love their chicken nuggets. Loneliness sets in when others try forcing me to join the herd of the political indifferent.

Therein lies the distance between my passion and those around me—a difference which ideally would not exist. The greatest dream of a gay rights activist is that caring would become a contagious cure. In some ways it has, if the polls concerning gay marriage are any indication.

This still does not satisfy me. It never should. This conflict will never end because injustice does not die.

As I stated in my introductory column, gay rights is you. I still believe that, but it should always remain clear that you don’t have to agree. Would gay rights move forward even quicker if somehow everyone had to embrace it? Certainly. If everyone who accepted gay people stood up as one, my gay allies could breathe much better.

This won’t happen, but what can take place is a commitment on my end to treat non-activists with respect and autonomy. I don’t want to suffocate them and take away the right to control their own destiny.

I just wish that Dan Cathy and his ilk felt the same about the people I love and care about so much.

About Nicholas Ruiz

Nicholas is a staff writer on the Daily Titan. Serving as a staff writer of the Daily Titan is a requirement for all Journalism majors.