Within the last week my Facebook feed has been blowing up about Chick-fil-A and the publicized thoughts of CEO Dan Cathy. I don’t know the man personally, but I have been aware of the flow of money, and some of his thoughts, for a while now. It is part of the basis of why I chose not to eat at the fast food establishment, long before friends urged me to consider boycotting the place. And so when the latest surge of media coverage began, I wasn’t surprised, and found myself eager to support the cause.
I’ve been eager because I am gay and Christian and passionate about a lot of causes that need to be highlighted and discussed. Mainly, the issues I personally tend to focus on are related to poverty, immigration, war, torture, and yes, gay rights. I have a stake in each one of those issues and personal relationships that guide any activist work I engage in. However, the issues pertaining to gay rights often carry an added weight, because yes, it IS personal.
I believe in free speech and I believe in dialogue. I try to engage in dialogue that is respectful, even when I am not respected. I try to be open and see the point of view of the other, even when the position is uncomfortable. And I try my very best to speak the truth placed in my heart, knowing that it is sometimes a vulnerable and courageous act, that may lead to pain (potentially mine or others).
But I also know that I sometimes fall short of this, and that only on a very good day, am I composed enough to get it all just right.
You see, I would like to say that comments like the ones that Dan Cathy spoke, are unimportant to me. I would like to say that they don’t matter, and maybe even ignore the whole thing just a little bit, because who really cares, it’s chicken and free speech we’re talking about. But it’s not.
If I am really honest with myself, and others, I would say that Dan Cathy’s comments do matter. In fact, if his voice is the only one heard, and the opposition does not speak out, then the status quo of homophobia and inequality will continue. Furthermore, the comments of Dan Casey support a side of a debate that opposes civil rights, and there are plenty of people in this country that just can’t afford to be silent. However, it is the chicken that we buy at Chick-fil-A that funds a company fueling organizations that marginalize LGBTQ people in ways that are very damaging, even to the core of their humanity.
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the argument to speak out is pretty simple to me.
However, the personal note is this:
As a queer individual, it’s hard to hear the words of Dan Casey and not feel the pain of yet another voice out in the public world that says my rights are not as important or valid as his.