|Posted by Dudgemd on July 31, 2012 at 12:55 AM||comments (3)|
Over the past few weeks, a heated debate has erupted from America over none-other-than a fast-food chicken restaurant known as Chick-Fil-A. The restaurant boasts powerful Christian values and remains closed on Sunday. Once privy only to the south, the restaurant has been expanding into the far reaches of the United States. Chick-Fil-A has now found itself in a stranglehold between those who wish marriage to remain traditional: between one man and one woman and progressive: same-sex marriage or marriage equality.
The debate, however, is not over the opinion of marriage or the opinions of those who run the company. The debate is centered, instead, around the monies spent on anti-gay legislation and measures from the customers of Chick-Fil-A. This is what LGBTQ individuals and supporters alike are protesting.
These actions of donating to anti-gay groups have been known for quite some time and many have been boycotting the Chick-Fil-A business for years. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago where president and CEO, Dan T. Cathy, told the Biblical Recorder that Chick-Fil-A is “very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit”, that entered Chick-Fil-A in the hot seat of gay/anti-gay politics. Now, there is a split between the public: those who support the efforts of Chick-Fil-A and those who don’t: a real damper for a business that sells chicken sandwiches.
While Chick-Fil-A began in Atlanta and is numerous in the heart of the Bible belt, the culture to the west, north, and northeast, have a much different view on culture and values. Chick-Fil-A could be stomping on territory unknown relinquishing future stores and customers, who may have once over-looked the unknown spending of monies for anti-gay propaganda. Facebook users, college students, blogs, websites, and media is now under attack for those supporting the boycott. Supporters are called bullies because the LGBTQ community is fighting back by protesting, petitioning, and fighting for equality. The problem: Many believe we are denying the president and CEO of Chick-Fil-A his opinion. We are not fighting for opinions here. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Instead, we are fighting because of the cruel and unusual methods put forth by the anti-gay foundations and organization Chick-Fil-A donates.
The biggest complaint, however, seems to be focused on the words of president and CEO, Dan T. Cathy. The LGBTQ community and supporters are under attack for not respecting the individual opinions of others and therefore we become the bully and the haters. Therefore, some who would not normally take sides and avoid Chick-Fil-A, are supporting their operations and handling of money because of the poor behavior and perceptions of the LGBTQ community. This is a false perception. Most of the LGBTQ community are not upset by the opinions of the family, president & CEO, and supporters of Chick-Fil-A, but where the money is going to hurt other people’s lives intentionally. This is the basis for the debate and the reason why people are boycotting.
Some may ask, “How is the money hurting the lives of LGBTQ individuals?”. In order to answer this question, we must be able to give a full scope of the problem. It is often difficult to understand the hardships of people in a group. We have perceptions or bias (prejudgments) known as prejudice toward individuals of a given group. To understand a little further, the following is a short scenario:
Yesterday, there was a boy playing with childhood friends without any cares in the world. Today, there is a homosexual boy identifying with his sexuality. Tomorrow, that same young boy will be bullied and tormented in school as well as other aspects of his life. Next week, his parents will disown him. Within a month, his boy scout troop will drop him, his teachers will make comments and refrain from stopping the other children’s ridicules. In the future, the church will kick him out, the state will not let him have children or marry the love of his life. His friends will be ridiculed themselves for befriending him. The government will take his taxes and not permit him to fight for his country. Shouldn’t his country and government be supporting him? The government will pass laws forbidding marriage and allowing discrimination against this class of young innocent citizens. When his partner (that the law doesn’t recognize) becomes ill, he is not allowed to be at his side. The boy who grew up in a society offering him only dead ends, no hope, and no goals will be left alone on the streets in despair. Death surely would be an easier path. Is suicide the answer? If suicide isn’t the answer, what if this boy grew up to be Aaron Hall who was beat by his four friends and left to die in a ditch or Matthew Shepherd on a fence? Would it be easier to end the life at one’s own hand or by the hands of friends in treachery? These children need hope, a ray of light to brighten their paths and find acceptance. Then and only then will homophobia, or the prejudice that kills, be extinguished and the plaque that brings pain release its monstrous grip upon our youth.
The above story is an exaggeration of what it is like to be gay. We struggle every single day to keep a secret prior to coming out. Many guess and assume we are gay before we, ourselves, admit it or tell anyone. Some of us are thrown out of our homes after coming out, others receive interventions and are told to go through reparative therapy through institutions like Exodus International, where one suppressed but does not remove the desire to be with the same-sex. Many national organizations have removed homosexuality from DSM-IV and still many claim it is even more harmful to try reparative therapies on people for there could be negative psychological effects.
The suicide risk for gay individuals is three to four times higher than heterosexual peers. Some argue the reason is they are not supposed to be gay. Being gay has nothing to do with the high rates of suicide attempts, but is directly proportional to the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that is displayed from the rest of society; destroying the psyche and self-esteem of the individual. The organizations Chick-Fil-A donates to, hurt our youth. Words are powerful. Words have consequences, and the words that some churches have been speaking are still creating an atmosphere where violence can be justified. I remember a quote from Mary Griffith, “Remember a child is always listening”. Children learn values, social norms, and behavior from adults. If we speak hate in the church, on the streets, and in the schools, children are learning to hate. They are always listening.
The following is a list of organizations/foundations Chick-Fil-A donates to:
Chick-Fil-A donates to:
Marriage & Family Foundation
Fellowship of Christian Athletes- “Frees” people from homosexuality. Condemns Impure
Lifestyle of Gays” (Equality Matters, 2012).
National Christian Foundation- Donates to Focus on the Family, Family Research
Council, Family Life, and Reviving Marriage in America (Equality Matters,
New Mexico Christian Foundation
The leading Christian Ministry focused on homosexuality. Their methods of
reparative and conversion therapy are meant to suppress the “homosexual” or
same-sex desires of youth and pray away the gay.
Family Research Council- Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists as hate group.
Georgia Family Council- Funded Prop 8
These groups have extensively contributed to the religious hate speech that marginalizes LGBTQ people. It is not just LGBTQ individuals at risk, but those who are seeking shelter from bullying, depression, and suicide. They have discouraged anti-bullying campaigns that seek to prevent LGBT teens from taking their own lives. Religion today marginalizes people who are different while hiding behind the Bible and speaking hate and exclusion. Every single person has the right to human dignity, no matter our opinions. The actions (giving out money), to fund anti-gay measures and legislation is hurting people and thus, Chick-Fil-A, churches and businesses that act in this manner, may as well be carrying out the cruel and unusual punishments themselves. They are giving power to hate and violence because of prejudice.
Due to my sexual orientation, this article is probably biased. However, I want to make something quite clear. My opinion on this matter is not about what people believe or don’t believe. It is based on experience: my experience as a gay man. This is personal for me and for many others. All of my life, I have been left to believe I am not “good” enough or that I should be different. As children, we are taught, to do our best and to be the best we can be. When are we taught, be the best you can be if and only if our parents think and believe that is what we should be? Isn’t this a contradiction?
I have known people to have undergone reparative therapy. I have known people to be kicked out of their homes. I have seen many tears and children who have had nowhere to turn. I have even known a few who took their lives because they gave up on hope. However, I am asked to be objective instead of subjective. In the end, my entire life and who I am and who I will continue to be will be subjective to the opinions and beliefs of those who have a false perception against me. When will the people who don’t agree with being gay and are straight understand that they have no idea how we feel or how we operate because they don’t take the time to get to know us as people. Instead, they focus on our sexuality. We are people, human beings that deserve the dignity to be loved and treated as human beings. Please stop the hate, because it is personal and it is destroying many lives: my friends and family.
By: Douglas M. Harper July 30, 2012