When it comes to the Chick-fil-A controversy, playwright and composer Wayne Self really says it best. His comments below are excerpted from a recent post on his blog, Owldolatrous Productions. And I want to thank my friend Adam for bringing Wayne's commentary to my attention, one that's been called a "must read essay." (Note: Dave Granlund's cartoon pictured above, does not accompany Wayne's original post.)
1. This isn’t simply about marriage. Shocker, right? It’s extremely frustrating that same-sex marriage is the great continental divide. People are judged according to how they stand on this issue, as if no other issue matters. Did you know that a person can be for same-sex marriage and still be homophobic? Did you know that a person can be against same-sex marriage and be gay? We all get categorized very quickly based on the marriage issue and maybe that’s not fair. But here’s what you should know:
• In 29 states in America today, my partner of 18 years, Cody, or I could be fired for being gay. Period. No questions asked. One of those states is Louisiana, our home state. We live in self-imposed exile from beloved homeland, family, and friends, in part, because of this legal restriction on our ability to live our lives together.
• In 75 countries in the world being gay is illegal. In many, the penalty is life in prison. These are countries we can’t openly visit. In nine countries, being gay is punishable by death. In many others, violence against gays is tacitly accepted by the authorities. These are countries where we would be killed. Killed.
• Two organizations that work very hard to maintain this status quo and roll back any protections that we may have are the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation. For example, the Family Research council leadership has officially stated that same-gender-loving behavior should be criminalized in this country. They draw their pay, in part, from the donations of companies like Chick-fil-A. Both groups have also done “missionary” work abroad that served to strengthen and promote criminalization of same-sex relations.
• Chick-fil-A has given roughly $5M to these organizations to support their work.
• Chick-fil-A’s money comes from the profits they make when you purchase their products.
2. This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because [Chick-fil-A CEO] Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.
Asking for “mutual tolerance” on this like running up to a bully beating a kid to death on the playground and scolding them both for not getting along. I’m not trying to dissolve Mr. Cathy’s marriage or make his sex illegal. I’m not trying to make him a second-class citizen, or get him killed. He’s doing that to me, folks; I’m just fighting back.
All your life, you’re told to stand up to bullies, but when WE do it, we’re told WE are the ones being intolerant? Well, okay. Yes. I refuse to tolerate getting my ass kicked. “Guilty as charged.”
But what are you guilty of? When you see a bully beating up a smaller kid and you don’t take a side, then you ARE taking a side. You’re siding with the bully. And when you cheer him on, you’re revealing something about your own character that really is a shame.
3. This isn’t about Jesus. I have a lot of Christian friends. Most of them are of the liberal variety, it’s true, but even this concept seems lost on some of you. Most of them are pro-LGBT rights. Pro-gay and pro-Christ are NOT mutually exclusive. They never have been, in the history of Christianity, though it’s been difficult at times. It’s not impossible to be both.
If someone is telling you it is, then maybe you should wonder why they’d do that. I see divorced Christians, remarried Christians, drug addict Christians. I see people with WWJD bracelets bumping and grinding on TV and raking in millions to do it. I see greedy, rapacious, vengeful people who are Christians. And these people are accepted in the Church, and the Church does very little to combat them. Sometimes it seems like being gay is the ONLY thing certain modern Christian movements won’t allow. Why’s that, I wonder?
Jesus had almost nothing to say about sexual behavior of any kind. He was too busy teaching more important things. Empathy is at the heart of his teachings. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Remember that? It’s in red. So let’s examine that:
4. If things were reversed, I’d stand up for you. Please think about this: How would you feel if KFC came out tomorrow and said they were spending money against equality for Asian Americans, or African Americans, or religious people? Really. Think about it. What would you do? How would you feel? How would you feel if, after their announcement, there was a big increase in KFC sales and I was all over Facebook supporting KFC. Please stop reading right now and imagine this. I’m serious.
You can stop now because it’s ludicrous. It would never happen.
Oh, I don’t mean the part about KFC being against some group. That COULD happen. I mean the part about me supporting them. Let me tell you something, and you can damn well believe it: I’d sign on for the boycott IMMEDIATELY.
Why? Well, because I believe in equality for all people, that’s why. But also, personally, from the bottom of my heart: because you are my friend, and I don’t willingly support people who harm you for just being you. How could I? How could I, really? But, more importantly for our purposes, how could you?
Seriously, how could you? What has Chick-fil-A ever done for you? Sold you some fatty chicken at a ridiculous mark-up? Made you chuckle at semi-literate cartoon cows? You mean more to me than KFC possibly could. If I, in turn, don’t mean more to you than a chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-A–if my life, my quality of life, and my dignity are such afterthoughts to you that you’d not only refuse the boycott, but go out of your way to support someone who was hurting me? if I let this stand, if I don’t stand up to the bullies and if I let my friends egg the bullies on, what does that make me?
Well, it makes me a Chikin.
Yeah, so suddenly it is cause for anger, ridiculous or not.
But I’m not going to stop being Facebook friends with anyone over this issue.
Instead, I will remain. And, when you see my face with my partner’s in my profile, maybe you will examine not simply what your opinions are about gay people, or gay marriage, or the first amendment, even; maybe you’ll examine not merely your opinions but your values. What is friendship to you? What is loyalty? How important are human life and dignity to you? Are they more important than fitting in with your social group? Are they more important than loyalty to a corporate brand, or a political party, or some misguided church teaching?
That’s why we’re so angry. This is personal for us. There are times in your life when you have the opportunity to stand up for your friends. When you let that opportunity pass, your friends notice. It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, but it diminishes you, and it diminishes the friendship. That’s how it is, no matter what the issue or what the venue.
So stand up. Stand up for us. Do the right thing. You don’t have to agree with us on everything, but repudiate Chick-fil-A. Unlike them on Facebook. Withdraw your support for them. Join us in the boycott. If you can’t do that, then please ask yourself whether I’m your friend. In fact, ask yourself whether anyone is.
This is all I have to say. If you’d like to debate the issue further, I’ll do it, but I’m not going to go around and around on the same points. If you’re just going to repeat yourself, save us both some time. If you haven’t taken the time to actually read this carefully and actually consider carefully what I’ve said, then I see no reason to waste further words.
The ball is in your court. Again, I urge you to do the right thing.
To visit Wayne Self's blog, Owldolatrous, click here.
Related Off-site Links:
Five Reasons Chick-fil-A Isn't What You Think – David Badash (HuffPost Gay Voices, August 1, 2012).
Chick-fil-A Dustup Shows Freedom for Fundamentalists is a One-Way Street – Wayne Besen (TruthWinsOut.org, July 30, 2012).
Chick-fil-A Anti-Gay Controversy: Gay Employees Speak Out – Lila Shapiro (HuffPost Gay Voices, August 1, 2012).
Chick-fil-A and Speech: We Are Free to Say Anything – But Must Deal with the Social Consequences – David da Silva Cornell (TruthWinsOut.org, August 2, 2012).
Chick-fil-A, Politics and Social Media: A Cautionary Tale – Beth Hawkins (MinnPost.com, July 26, 2012).
Chick-fil-A Has 'Record-Setting' Sales on Appreciation Day – Amy Bingham (ABC News, August 2, 2012).
Yes, Actually, That Does Make You a Bigot – Kristen Hotham Carroll (HuffPost Gay Voices, August 1, 2012).
Muppets Abandon Chick-fil-A Because Of Its Anti-Gay Policies – Zack Ford (ThinkProgress.org, July 23, 2012).
Dixie Chick-Fil-Ayed – Eric Folkerth (When EF Talks, August 2, 2012).
Chick-fil-A Flap is Driven by More Than Gay Marriage – The Associated Press (August 3, 2012).