I stopped myself this morning in the middle of this thought: “Man, I’ll be glad when this whole Chick-fil-A crap blows over.”
I stopped myself because I realized that this was stemming from my own “privilege.” I am, after all, a heterosexual, cis-gendered person who is not in any danger of being told that my marriage is unlawful, sinful, or something to be deplored. I stopped myself because I realized how selfish and absurd that thought was, like, aw gee – can’t we stop talking about chicken sandwiches and go back to posting pictures of kittens?
Well, no, we can’t. As long as people continue to refuse to understand that this IS a “civil rights issue,” as long as people who — while otherwise supportive of their gay friends and family members — choose to keep going to Chick-fil-A because “supporting freedom of speech” is more important than not indirectly supporting bigotry, we need to keep talking about it.
At the risk of drawing ire, I’ll say this: I was not one of the Bostonians tickled by Mayor Menino’s letter to Dan Cathy. I don’t believe it’s a government official’s place to tell a business where to stick it. That’s our job as citizens. If we, the people of Boston, don’t want a Chick-fil-A, we’ll let them know. The students of Northeastern University successfully blocked one from opening in the Curry Center this past winter. Let me be clear: I don’t disagree with Menino’s personal feelings on the matter; I am uncomfortable with an elected official wielding the power of office inappropriately, even though I would be totally happy with NOT having a Chick-fil-A in this city.
Now, let’s talk about why. It’s not because I’m “anti-Christian.” I was raised Catholic, my parents are still practicing Catholics, and several of my nieces and nephews are being raised in this faith. I myself no longer practice any kind of organized religion. I am comfortable with my spirituality and my sense of connection to something bigger than myself. I try to always see where my religious friends and family members are correct and helpful. I do not put anyone down for believing in God, or goddesses, or nothing at all. It’s rude and distasteful. “Christianity” is not the issue here, so don’t even pull that card on me.
Dan Cathy has a right to his beliefs. No question about that. I have a right to not support his company, and furthermore, I have a right to talk about WHY I don’t support it. My not buying a chicken sandwich there is in no way infringing on his beliefs, your beliefs, or anyone else’s beliefs. I am not buying a chicken sandwich there because I do not wish to support a company that will turn around and use the money I spent to support causes that I cannot, in good conscience, simply shrug off because that sandwich is sooooo tasty.
What causes are those? Causes that perpetuate stigmatization and intolerance. Yes, there’s that word again. INTOLERANCE. Nobody likes to be called intolerant. Nobody likes to be called a bigot. I’ve read this again and again from people who say that they are merely stating their beliefs, yet are being called “bigots” because of it. Of course you don’t like being called a “bigot.” Gay people don’t like being called “evil,” “abnormal,” and “sinful.” Nobody likes to be called something they’re not. Think about it.
I don’t want my money going to organizations that, while ostensibly talking about “preserving the sanctity of traditional marriage,” are contributing to a culture of bullying and violence. Please don’t pretend that this isn’t the case. You may not “hate” gay people, but by denying them civil rights because you don’t agree with what they do in their bedrooms, you are relegating them to – at the very LEAST – second class citizenship. We cannot tell LGBT youth: “It gets better, but you’re going to be denied the rights the rest of us enjoy when you come of age.” When a majority gets to vote on the civil rights of a minority, that is WRONG. Period. We are telling our fellow citizens that they are less-than. That attitude filters down into the playgrounds and school hallways.
This is why I stopped myself in the middle of that thought this morning. The fact that it’s all over Facebook is not a mere annoyance, like repeated postings of every variation of “Call Me Maybe.” It’s all over Facebook because it needs to be discussed. My gay friends and family members are rightfully upset by it. I’m upset by it, too. My not supporting Chick-fil-A is about supporting my loved ones, nothing more.