True & Honest Fan
- Sep 7, 2016
Chick-fil-A is ideologically opposed to my existence
By Andrew WheelerContributor
Wed., Sept. 11, 2019timer3 min. read
This past weekend I saw something that made me unexpectedly queasy; a young woman slurping soda out of a fast food cup.
It upset me because it was a Chick-fil-A cup.
Chick-fil-A is an anti-LGBTQ2 organization, not just because the founder publicly opposed same-sex marriage (he believed in a “biblical definition of marriage,” which doesn’t exist), but because company profits are donated to charities that oppress and marginalize queer people, especially queer youth.
Young queer people are unusually vulnerable to depression and suicidal thoughts. They often struggle to find support in their own communities, and even in their own families.
They’re not miserable because they’re queer. They’re miserable because the stigmatization of queerness by family, church, and society has left them lonely and ostracized. They’re miserable because people will not accept and love them, and because the people they should be able to turn to are often the most likely to harass, harm, and abuse them.
LGBTQ2 activists protested Chick-fil-A’s opening on Friday, but people were happy to cross the protest line. Some also tried to tell the protesters that they weren’t bad people. A lady yelled, “You think I’m homophobic? I have gay friends.” One man told me he voted for Trudeau. A smirking guy hiding behind large sunglasses insisted that McDonald’s is just as bad.
I’ve devoted much of my life to advocating for media that allows queer kids to see themselves represented. It’s important to me as someone who knows the struggle of growing up queer and as someone who took to heart lessons of love and kindness from my Christian upbringing.
The folks at Chick-fil-A took a different lesson. Buy a meal from them, and they’ll use your money to increase the suffering of queer kids.
We know that moral purity is impossible in a capitalist society. Every week, you’re spending money in ways that harm the environment, spread political strife, and empower the greedy and corrupt. We all make difficult choices.
This one isn’t difficult. I will not support a company that is ideologically opposed to my existence, and that uses the money spent there to campaign against my existence. If I really want fried chicken, there are more than a dozen places to get some within a 10 minute walk of Chick-fil-A. Downtown Toronto is the Vatican City of fried chicken.
Of course, people are not just going to Chick-fil-A to eat fried chicken. They’re eating fried chicken spitefully. They’re defiantly standing in line with all the other freethinkers because they’ve been asked not to. They know that going to Chick-fil-A hurts queer people, but they’ve never thought much about queer people before and they’re not going to start now. It’s a strange form of identity politics where the identity is “a--hole.” The line to get into Chick-fil-A is the a--hole pride parade.
We’re never going to chase Chick-fil-A out of town. In Donald Trump’s America, it’s a huge success, the No. 3 restaurant chain in the country. It’s going to be huge in Toronto, too. The first location is on the edge of the Queer Village, on the route of the Pride Parade, but other locations will follow.
We can’t shut it down, but if we make enough noise and if enough people stay away, we might convince it to change its practices and stop hurting queer kids.
In the meantime, we’ll see that logo everywhere, its meaning as clear as a red hat. Those cups and wrappers will serve as evidence of how cheap our existence is; a sign that we’re easily dismissed if we come between people and their lunch. Queer kids’ lives are worth less to them than the wrappers they toss out.
Chick-fil-A has released a poison into this city that tells queer people we’re less welcome here. We’re less safe. We’re always surrounded by people who hate us, but now those people can show us how easily, how thoughtlessly, they reach for their hate.
The more they see each other, the more empowered they will be. Hate against queer people is going to increase in this city, because folks can’t walk 500 feet to Popeyes.
Watch where you step. Chick-fil-A trash is all over these streets.
Andrew Wheeler is the editor of Shout Out, an anthology of comic book stories for young queer readers.