It Hurts

Last Wednesday my Facebook feed–like yours–was filled with images of ecstatic faces jammed in long lines at Chick-fil-A stores.  “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” was a resounding success judging by the repeated cheers of record profits and stores that literally ran out of chicken.

It should be easy to brush off as yet another silly charade in the merry-go-round culture wars.  One side boycotting chicken sandwiches and the other side gobbling them up.  I’ve been a babbling part of those culture wars for a few years now, and I generally don’t take any of it too personally.  But  I must confess–those grinning faces waiting in line last week stung a bit.  Perhaps it was because I saw comments and photos about it from a wide range of folks I considered genuine pals…high school friends, college friends, family members. 

They were damn-near giddy to be sending a symbolic message that they were not on my side.  That’s what really hit home–the excitement to be lined up against people like me.  The happiness at joining the ranks and letting us know that we were wrong and they were right.

Since then I’ve been thinking deeply about what motivated those who supported the Appreciation Day.  What would motivate someone to drive dozens of miles and wait hours for a chicken sandwich?  Or to forward messages of support to the Boys Scouts for excluding a certain group of people that they don’t like?

All I could think of was Christianity.   The majority of those folks were motivated in various ways by their faith and how it informs their opinion of issues of sexuality.  All the political fights are just a proxy of that basic issue.

I am not a biblical scholar, but I’ve read the Bible cover to cover.  I am not a historian, but I’ve trudged through Diarmaid MacCullough’s celebrated  1,000 page tome, Christianity: The First Thousand Years.  I’ve attended various services in many Christian denominations.  And I’ve had many conversations about the Christian faith.  After all of that I can say unequivocally that I am not a Christian.

But I was still thinking I could use the Bible itself to discourage this sort of conduct, referencing something like this…

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself.” – Romans 2:1-2

But then again, they could just come back and spit out any number of alternatives, like…

“And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations.” – Ezekiel 22:2 (ESV)

Plucking out verses is no help.  All I can say is that the conduct of so-many professed Christians on these issues makes me so very sad.  I am not sad because I disagree with them.  I am sad because their conduct is incredibly harmful to some of the most vulnerable people.  Let me be clear: smiling at “Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day” and cheering on the Boy Scouts for banning gay people hurts others deeply.

Who is hurt?  Not me so much.  I was lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive and loving family.  And I’ve found a partner (and second family) equally as loving and welcoming.

Others are not so lucky.

There is a false perception of the gay community.  Those eating chicken on Wednesday likely think all gay people attend parades and political rallies. They may assume that all gay people are loud, vocal advocates filled with pride and without fear.  That is not true.  Those at rallies and parades are the exception.

Hundreds of thousands of gay individuals, many teens, are living in hiding, filled with self-loathing, and without hope that their own future can ever be normal.     The suicide rate among this group is scandalous.  What do you think these mass public displays of animosity  toward the gay community does to those teens teetering on the edge?

Last week there were thousands, literally thousands, of tweets like this…

Going to Chick-fil-A cause I hate fags ‪#Merica

yall faggots n dikes can serve n the military openly now yaw wanna take chick-fil-a from us. smh

Oh, I BEG you to go. Please, please, PLEASE go to Chick-fil-A and try to beat up some faggots. ‪#rudeawakening

Everybody needs to eat chick-fil a. Down with the faggots!! ‪#queerspolutingthiscountry

I love chick Fil a even more , now that they hate queers.

Hell no all this fags talking about walking in to chick-fil-a and kissing each other… Hell no whos down to shoot the place up?? Lmao

There are teens living every day around people who make these comments.  They would never dream of saying a word to anyone about their inborn sexual orientation.  They live in constant fear and often have little hope for the future.  And then they see a line out the door at their local Chick-fil-A, a forceful reminder of the contingent in their community that thinks they are disordered or sinful or disgusting or abnormal.

Those who showed pride in eating at Chik-fil-A last week should know that very vulnerable people saw it, felt it, and were stabbed by it.

I’m not sure whose lives were made better by Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day, but I know many lives that were made a bit worse.

13 thoughts on “It Hurts

  1. The individuals who wrote and sent these types of tweets are NOT Christians…. Oh they may think they are, and/or they may call themselves so— but it is doubtful. These are just people who are against the gay community and used the the Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day as a way to spew their hatefulness. The fact that these people are associated with Christianity in this way is sickening. I am not a mean, spiteful person and would not ever speak such ugly terrible things about any group. I do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle- however I am not against the persons or people– I have friends and family who are gay, and I find them to be good, kind, decent people– and I care about and love them… I do not hate them because we choose to live differently. I defend their right to choose how they want to live– it is a free country. However, I do not support the agenda item to change the definition of marriage. I believe and will always believe the biblical definition which is between one man and one woman. Which is why I supported Mr. Cathy and Chik-Fil-A last Wednesday— because this is ALL he said… that he believed in the traditional marriage— and then it was blown completely out of proportion into all of this…. I was not giddily standing in line… I was standing in line to support Mr. Cathy’s right to run a business without the interference of local or federal government telling him how or where he could do so– because of his beliefs.

    1. I know my reasoning for no longer giving my money to Chick-Fil-a isn’t because Mr. Cathy spoke his mind, but because he donates millions of those dollars to anti-gay groups. He is entitled to donate to whatever he wants, but I don’t want my money to be a part of it.

      Paul, once again, great blog.

      1. oh… my reply was regarding Renee Sanders comment, not the article. The article is erroneously lumping all “christians” into some hateful group, which is NOT TRUE.

      2. Hi Glenda-

        I don’t quite follow your assertion. The article was written to make a few very specific points…

        (1) Many use their Christian faith as an argument against the “morality” of same-sex relationships.

        (2) This belief led many of them to attend the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

        (3) There are some who espouse violent animosity against those born gay—as evidenced by the select tweets.

        (4) This animosity causes immense pain to many gay individuals struggling with their sexuality.

        (5) The mass participation at the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was a very harmful symbolic act against those already struggling daily.

        Put most succinctly: Whether or not you attended because of your Christian faith OR because you legitimately want to do harm to this minority, the effect of the action was the same–vulnerable people were hurt.

  2. Really well written, Paul. I was a camp
    counselor this summer and last summer. My favorite camper is struggling with her sexuality. She kept telling me she wished she was ‘normal’. It breaks my heart. Thanks for writing this.

    1. Oy. Well thankfully she’s got an understanding ear on your end. I know several in the same situation, and I’ve been thinking more and more about how they are the invisible sufferers in all of this culture war nonsense. The one’s most affected by the mass dogma-driven confusion about human sexuality are those who would never attend a gay pride parade, a political rally, or feel safe admitting to friends what they know to be true about themselves.

  3. @paulalanrichardson…you’re speaking in the same generalities as Paul. You note “many” use their faith as an argument. Well, not ALL, so don’t lump them in one box. What about the people who attended to confirm that people can say whatever they want? Remember: people can’t DO whatever they want. When Chick starts turning away gay job applicants or potential customers- start raising hell then. The folks who wrote those ugly comments are LOST, but not followers of Christ (my opinion). It’s too bad the gay community gets their feelings bruised, but life is tough. Every body on the play ground will not like you or want to be your friend. I’m sorry Paul or anyone else was hurt and I hope they get through it…

    1. Hi Glenda-

      I’m still a bit confused by some of your thoughts.

      First, I used the word “many” specifically instead of the word “all.” At any point did I say “Every Christian thinks…?” Do you disagree that many Christians are against same-sex relationships because of their interpretation of sexual morality gleaned from their faith?

      Second, I wasn’t for a moment talking about anyone’s right to attend this appreciation day or right to speak their mind. I was quite obviously discussing the consequences of those actions. At no point did the post challenge anyone’s right to hold an opinion or attend the appreciation day. It simply pointed out the consequences and suggested they were incredibly harmful to a group of young gay individuals who are quite vulnerable.

      Third, with all due respect, this has nothing to do with “bruised feelings.” The law actively treats gay individuals differently under the law based solely on their sexual orientation. This post was not spurred by a need to be “friends with everyone on the playground,” but to be treated equally under the law.

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