12:44 p.m. Downtown Decatur Chick-Fil-A
Two back to back arguments, demonstrating not only my ‘inner conflict’ on the protests but how idealism can sound silly on either side. I talked to a black woman holding a multi-colored protest sign.
Me: “I understand the problem, and I get not wanting to support Dan Cathy, but it’s not like this is Dennys in the 90’s. They were actively discriminating against customers and employees. These local operators don’t’ necessarily have anything to do with Dan Cathy.”
Protest Woman: “I know, but people should do research on who they’re purchasing from. I mean, before they bought the Chick-Fil-A franchise they should’ve seen what kinds of things the ownership stands for.”
I thought that was a pretty high standard to hold someone to. I am pretty sure that “Do you support anti-gay marriage policies?” was the last thing in a potential franchisee’s mind when buying a chicken joint in 1990. Once back inside the store, some 17 year old white kid with bad skin, overhearing me and my friend Jason discussing the protests decides to chime in.
Pimply Faced Teen: “The people out there are harassing me,they harassed me as I walked in here. I don’t see what they’re all screaming about.”
Me: “They aren’t screaming, they aren’t keeping anyone from coming inside and I haven’t seen them harass anybody. They have a right to protest just like we have a right to eat here. That’s how America works. There are people dying in the Middle East right now for us to have the right sit here, and them out there.”
The kid shut up, the old people behind us stopped talking and stared. Here’s a hint, whenever you’re arguing rights with conservatives, just throw in a “People are dying in the Middle East so that we have a right to _________” and you’ll win the argument. Even if you don’t believe it. After those fights, I finish my lemonade and move on.
1:50 p.m. Chick-Fil-A Colony Square Downtown Atlanta
No real action here, it’s a small Chick-Fil-A located in a mall at the busy intersection of Peachtree and 14th street. Managers who clearly weren’t used to being on duty sat around, security guards made jokes, but no one seemed to care. It was like waiting for a storm that not only wasn’t coming but that you were fully prepared for anyways.
2:39 p.m. Chick-Fil-A Lindbergh Station Buckhead area of Atlanta
Still more nothing. The one employee I asked about the protest looked confused and kept repeating the words “gay” to me like he didn’t understand. I think he was mentally slow. No kissing, no glitter-bombs. Nothing, I’m getting discouraged.
2:59 p.m. Chick-Fil-A Druid Hills
I’m starting to wonder what’s wrong with this movement. You can see gay people kissing and holding hands in Atlanta everyday of the week, but on a day of nation protest I had literally not seen anyone kiss, anyone hold hands. All I’d seen was a lesbian couple stuffing their kids with McDonald’s, and some grinning manager. Fortunately Pikachu saved me.
Outside of this Chick-Fil-A I ran into 5 high-school students who apparently had shown up just a few minutes before me, and were ready to show their support. The chubby leader girl was dressed in a bright yellow Pikachu outfit and told me that she was a Pikachu-sexual and that Chick-Fil-A probably didn’t support her lifestyle either. A curly-haired Justin Guarinilooking kid was wearing a rainbow shirt, daisy dukes and women’s lace underwear on the outside. They were all part of Lakeside Highschool’s GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) and were determined to have a good time.
First, I was impressed, there certainly was never a Gay Straight Alliance when I was in high-school. We just called it the Drama Club and left it at that. More importantly it was so encouraging to see a group of kids just protesting with joy in their hearts. To them, gay kids are just normal, this whole protest almost seems silly to them, and it was good to see that whatever queer students there were at Lakeside, they clearly had a clique to run with if they were willing to be down with Pokemon. Even the reluctant brunette Duncan (not his real name) told me that while his Mom told him “Not to get in trouble” he was out there and his sister was making out in front of some other Chick-Fil-A. I’m not sure if that was part of the protest of if that’s just how his big sister got down, but it was a nice touch.
4:38 p.m. Cobb Parkway Chick-Fil-A and Beyond
I went to a few other Chick-Fil-A’s throughout the day and didn’t see much happening. A few people mumbling support, managers looking nervous but protests were just not in full effect today. When I finally sat down at a local Barnes and Nobles to blurt out my thoughts a few things really stood out.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I cannot honestly call myself a gay rights advocate or even an ally. I think those terms should be reserved for people who really put their own privilege on the line for others and are willing to go to bat for the gay rights movement. I’m move moved by race, poverty and environmental issues, but I am would you could call aconscientious sexual libertarian. The LGBT community should be allowed to marry, adopt gets, get healthcare and have the same rights, legally and socially as anyone else. I respect those who disagree with homosexuals on religious grounds they do actually have some scripture to back up that belief, but ultimately I believe in live and let live amongst consentingadults.
And for that reason I remain somewhat ambivalent after my day of protest watching. So Dan Cathy is a bigot? Don’t eat Chick-Fil-A anymore, and protest his personal office. But unless there’s a policy or pattern of discrimination going on (like you had with Denny’s or Mobile oil), unless there’s a story out there of a Chick-Fil-A refusing to cater a gay wedding, I really couldn’t find myself fully supporting these protests even though I support people’s right to do so. In the end I got to tour around Atlanta and eat fruit-cups and get free lemonade. I probably won’t eat Chick-Fil-A for awhile, partially out of solidarity and partially I’m on that no carb diet thing. I may not be the best advocate for gay/straight alliances but I will do my own small part. Sorry Cows, it’s back to Burger King for me.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.