A Powerful Comment on Chick-fil-A

About a week ago as the controversy around Chick-Fil-A was just beginning, I wrote a blog on it. I later deleted that blog because as the situation changed, I was no longer holding to some of the points I originally expressed. But before deleting it from this site, I got the following comment on my old blog site. While I deleted the post, I felt like this comment was much better than anything I had said and I wanted to keep that shared.

Dear Ryan,

Fellow Urban Mennonite here. (Chicago) I should say, non-practicing. But you know how that goes. Mennonite gets in the blood and it stays there. (Happily!)

I think this is a really hard issue. I am a gay man. As a junior high school boy (before I got included in the loving embrace of the Mennonite community) I was taunted, threatened, attacked and bullied for being gay. (I say “for being gay” but I should say “for seeming gay” which ended up an accurate assessment anyway.) What this whole Chick-fil-a thing is bringing back are the boys in the locker room holding me by the neck until I say, “I’m a fag.” When I see pictures of people holding Chick-fil-a bags and grinning at the camera, or tweeting horrible, hateful things about faggots and HIV, I can’t help but shut down again like I did in the locker room of long ago.

Now, this isn’t supposed to be a sob story. But I think you have to know that this is not a political issue. This is an intensely personal issue for every gay person who has ever been bullied or hated for being who they are.

Dan Cathy, in his statement, may have “never said he had anything against those who thought otherwise,” but he sure did imply that he does not support other “non-biblical” definitions of family. (I put it in quotes because I don’t think creating Adam and Eve meant that a) they were married or that b) that is the only God-sanctioned family structure.) What this boils down to, in the real world, are same-sex relationships that are not allowed the same legal privileges as their opposite-sex counterparts. To break it down more, it means people not being able to be at the bed-side of their dying partners, of no financial security for those partner’s whose lover has died, etc. Which, to withhold these rights from certain citizens, seems like an adult version of bullying. There is a bit of a double-whammy here when a corporation backs legislation that establishes inequality for the citizens of our country. It becomes capitalism at it’s worst. Not because it backs something I disagree with (a one-way view of family), but because it supports something that continues to marginalize and oppress REAL PEOPLE.

That may be a good cause for an uproar.

I see little difference between the images of people holding their Chick-fil-a bags and holding “God Hates Fags” signs. But maybe that symbolism is lost on straight people. But whenever human rights and social justice are on the line, I think we Anabaptists need to step into the shoes of the people whose real lives are being affected and see the world from that perspective. Not a theoretical one.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.