Today is "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" as brought about by Mike Huckabee. It is a really difficult day for me.
The point of this day is to appreciate the donations made by CfA's CEOs to anti-gay (or "pro-traditional marriage") organizations.
I have gone back and forth today - and for a while - about whether or not I should support and work for CfA. I am super passionate about LGBTQ rights. I've also loved CfA since I was a little girl (it is tasty!). I made the decision to work for CfA Sugarhouse last November fully aware that CfA is founded and run by Christian people and Christian viewpoints, which include the support of "traditional marriage." But the past few weeks the media aobut this has gotten out of control. Pro-queer people have decided to boycott CfA. In turn, pro-traditional marriage people have made a decision to spend money and eat at CfA today in their support of CfA's controversial donations. Here in America we have the freedom to do these sorts of things. It is acceptable.
Here's what's not acceptable. The media claims that CfA has donated money to Exodus International. Exodus International is an organization that strives to change gay people to straight, sometimes using reparative therapy. Reparative therapy is harmful and can cause long-term damage to clients' self-esteem and even their sexual health! (Without getting too graphic, it can permanently damage the function of sexual organs. That is effed up.) There has been no concrete, researched evidence that reparative therapy works, either. I do not believe that CfA's donations to Exodus International, and other similar organizations, is acceptable.
Although I do believe that some people are "on the right side of history" on this issue and others are "on the wrong side of history," I still believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions. But here is another thing that is not acceptable: bashing people on either side for their beliefs. A reason why I'm so passionate about LGBTQ rights is because I value love and equality/anti-discrimination above anything. It's obviously too optimistic, but I wish we could disagree on this issue and not hate each other for it. My parents are good examples of Christians who support "traditional marriage" but still show love to their daughters' LGBTQ friends and support their ally daughter. It is possible to respectfully disagree. Do I want to punch people who make ignorant anti-gay remarks? Uh yeah! But I choose to pity them and focus my energy on positive actions to express my LGBTQ support.
I almost feel guilty for working at CfA though. How can I work for a company that supports exactly the opposite of something I'm so passionate about? Something that comes to mind as I try to reconcile this is that CfA Sugarhouse has an out gay employee! There are also plenty of allies there. My individual workplace does not discriminate. (I haven't been there for a few months due to my summer job, so I guess things could be different now, but this is how it was a few months ago.) Should I ignore what Dan Cathy decides to do with CfA's money? I feel like that's what I have been doing. But now I feel like I shouldn't do that.
I feel like I'm in the middle of a fight between a friend and a significant other. I value and support my significant other (LGBTQ-ness) very much. My friend (Chick-fil-A) does not like my significant other and even donates money against hir*. But I don't want to just hate my friend. It's complicated. I'm sure many of you reading this won't understand my struggle. And that's okay. I can hardly grasp it.
Ultimately, we have the freedom to boycott or support Chick-fil-A. Just like we have the freedom to boycott or support JC Penny (for being pro-LGBTQ). I guess I have the freedom to be torn and not make a decision right now. (: But please please please please! just try to think twice before you say things and make sure they're respectful, no matter what "side of history" you are on.
I do want to make it clear that I absolutely do not support this day. If I was actively working at CfA Sugarhouse I would refuse to work today. It would make me sad for society.
*"Hir" (pronounced like "here") is a non-gender-specific term that can be used in replace of "her" or "him." "Ze" can be used instead of "she" or "he."
***UPDATE: I chose to quit working at Chick-fil-A, partly because of this, and partly because I got a job opportunity that was honestly better than working fast food. Overall I do not regret my decision.