Chick-fil-Gay: The Bitter Taste of Ideological Conflict
The verdict is in. As of March 21, 2019, the seemingly inescapable fast-food juggernaut and sacred cow of hungry American evangelicals, Chick-fil-A, has officially been banned from the San Antonio International Airport by the San Antonio city council for their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
“Wait a minute”, you stop and tell me, “isn’t this old news? Hasn’t this happened before?” It sure has. Multiple times. Perhaps you’re thinking of the well-publicized incident in 2012 where the mayor of Boston blocked Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant in the city due to their inflammatory remarks on gay marriage and financial contributions towards anti-LGBTQ+ organizations such as Eagle Forum and Focus on the Family. One would think that a major corporation such as Chick-fil-A would perhaps learn from their mistakes and not continue to enmesh their food products with their reactionary and discriminatory politics which may possibly alienate consumers belonging to marginalized or disenfranchised groups and therefore be disadvantageous for the company’s financial performance. Perhaps this all goes to show that ideology (or possibly the image of ideology) is a powerful enough drug to keep such pragmatic thinking at bay — after all, doesn’t raw demagoguery taste that much better?
This latest bit of news arrives on the heels of Chick-fil-A being exposed once again for relapsing on their bad habit of donating to anti-LGBTQ groups. This revelation, however, throws in an extra punch since it’s revealed that their prior promises to scale down anti-LGBTQ donations were simply outright lies (you know, like Jesus would do.) I can’t quite picture what it must be like to be a successful businessman and read these headlines, but I imagine it must be like watching someone who’s covered in red bumps and clearly suffering from anaphylactic shock winding up to jam their arm in the hornet’s nest a second time just to make sure there’s no honey in there. How is any of this worth it? What’s to gain from all this? Are Americans so slavishly loyalty to their fast food purveyors that they’ll overlook any and all moral and ethical transgressions just to get a taste of those waffle fries? Actually, it seems that the answer to that last question is probably a resounding “yes”.
If you live in the U.S., particularly the south, you almost certainly know at least one LGBTQ individual who, despite their personal convictions, continues to patronize an establishment that hates them and seeks to destroy their identity, solely on the grounds of their deliciousness. Sure, it would be petty of me to turn this article into a sanctimonious, finger-wagging condemnation of other members of the LGBTQ community for their taste in chicken, but on the other hand, this issue affects far more than those who simply eat at Chick-fil-A. LGBTQ activist and author Faith Naff summarizes the issue far better than I ever could:
This really should not be a crisis of conscience for the eating public. If you’re opposed to organizations that actively seek to harm a group whose members inhabit every rung of society and will most assuredly make up a portion of your friends, neighbors, and family if you aren’t a member yourself, you shouldn’t give these organizations money for ammunition, no matter how delicious the return exchange may be. DMW may have made an impassioned and catchy plea for Chick-fil-A to embrace its LGBTQ customer base and allow them through their pearly gates to dine in harmony on their chicken-fried manna, but this latest turn of events shows that the company is not receptive to this option, nor will they ever be. The San Antonio city council’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from their airport was not a unanimous decision, but it succeeded nonetheless, and I would like to humbly propose that this be a call for action for the LGBTQ community — no matter how much your taste buds may beg to differ, the only way we can enact change is by demonstrating to Chick-fil-A that we really, truly can do without them.
While I may believe that there is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism, I do believe that there is such a thing as delicious consumption under capitalism, which I’m sure most Americans can relate to. The next time you feel a craving for Chick-fil-A, stop and think for a moment: what other options do I have? What other fast-food restaurants serve good fried chicken? Naturally, one’s stance on which fast-food restaurant serves good fried chicken is naturally subjective, but Chick-fil-A isn’t the only establishment you have to choose from. You could just as easily drive past them and give your business to Zaxby’s, Church’s Chicken, Raisin’ Cane’s, Popeyes, or Chester’s; if you live outside the states, you may also have the option of slipping in a cheeky Nando’s. We as Americans may not have as much political influence as we used to in this era of runaway gerrymandering and big-money lobbying, but we still have the unalienable right to vote with our wallets, and if you ask me there’s no better place to start than with the restaurant that’s still adamantly refusing to accept societal progress and is doggedly determined to undermine the civil rights of its customers. Howard Johnson’s paid the price for refusing service to the finance minister of Ghana when he tried to patronize one of their racially segregated restaurants — how will our history books reflect the conduct of Chick-fil-A? Only we as consumers have the power to decide. As folks down south would say, “Have a blessed day.”
“San Antonio bans Chick-fil-A from airport”, Brooke Phillips, WOAI News 4 San Antonio
“Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation kept donating to anti-LGBTQ groups”, Gaby Del Valle, Vox
“Divided City Council Approves Airport Concession Contract, But No Chick-fil-A”, Iris Dimmick, The Rivard Report
“Chick-Fil-A Donated Nearly $2 Million To Anti-Gay Groups In 2010”, equalitymatters.org
“Chick-fil-A donated to anti-LGBTQ group that bars employees from ‘homosexual acts’”, Josh Israel, thinkprogress.org
“Ghana finance minister denied service, Oct. 10, 1957”, Andrew Glass, Politico