Eat More Words
A Gay Chick-fil-A Employee Speaks Out
So when people boycott Chick-fil-A, it means I don't get hours. Which means I don’t get money. Not just me, but ALL of the LGBT employees at Chick-fil-A. Yes, CFA hires LGBT people. No one’s been fired for being gay or coming out. It’s a job. A job that can’t be taken for granted when work is scarce across the country. We have to eat too. So sure, boycott Chick-fil-A because you don’t agree with the CEO. Will you change his mind? No. Will it change the amount of money my LGBT peers and I can earn? Probably. Boycotting Chick-fil-A doesn’t hurt the company. It hurts the employees. And it’s hard enough working for a place that doesn’t think you should get married. But it’s work. Don’t take it away because you feel righteous.
That’s what I said four days ago. I meant it then. After today, though, I take it all back.
After all, I’m still a closeted gay woman working at a Chick-fil-A in the southern United States. And things these days, well, they’re complicated.
When Monday was dead, I was harboring hope that it was because so many people were boycotting Chick-fil-A. Apparently I was suffering from delusions, or temporarily forgot I live in the Bible Belt. Sunday, all the ministers at the evangelical churches in town told their congregations to show support to Chick-fil-A by eating there. The day? Today, Wednesday, August 1, 2012.
We were so busy we nearly ran out of food. We did run out of some things, like nuggets, strips, lemonade, and waffle fries. Though we didn’t have to close early like we feared, by 10 p.m., we barely had anything left. Never before have I been so grateful that I have tomorrow off.
Customers sang “God Bless America” in the dining room. They vocalized their support for “family values” in a way that made me want to vomit. We had two protestors outside, and I took five minutes to run out, hug them, and tell them: if I weren’t working here now, I’d be out here with you.
They said, “It’s okay, we know what it’s like to have to work for a paycheck.” Hearing that was ten times better than hearing from my acquaintances on the other side of the coin: “How do you work there and still sleep at night, knowing their stance against equal rights?” I sleep with a roof over my head, which is about all I can ask.
I can’t tell you much more about the customers today, because of my limited contact with them. I work in the kitchen, so I don’t see much of the clientele. What made today so difficult—more difficult than always being behind on food, running out of one thing or another, needing to be in two places at once, etc—was the attitudes of the other employees.
No one really stopped talking about the reasons why today was as busy as it was. The people I work alongside kept going on and on about how powerful it was to be part of such a righteous movement, and how encouraged they were to know that there were so many people who agree with Dan Cathy. They went on at great length about how it was wrong not just for gays to marry, but to exist. One kid, age 19, said “I hope the gays go hungry.”
I nearly walked out then and there. That epitomizes the characteristics of these evangelical “Christians” who are so vocally opposed to equal rights. Attitudes like that are the opposite of Christ-like.
When these preachers told their congregations to support Chick-fil-A by eating there today, no one called the restaurants and said “Hey, you may be flooded with customers. Thaw extra chicken.” Not one of the employees in those congregations gave the restaurant a heads-up. That sort of consideration wasn’t even an afterthought. The ministers, and through them the congregants, didn’t think about the consequences of their actions, or who it might screw over. And it ended up screwing us rather thoroughly.
I think that’s the mentality that drives them—the evangelicals on a quest to take over America, one law at a time, without thinking of who their actions may be harming. Because they disagree with something, it means everyone should disagree with it, and that’s a good enough reason to make it illegal. That’s not the way it works, folks. Disagree with equal marriage rights? Then don’t marry someone of the same sex, and you’re fine.
Just because you think your God says gays can’t marry doesn’t mean you have the right to make a law saying that. This is a republic, not a theocracy. If this country’s lawmaking were ideal, you’d have to have a reason to make something illegal, not to have to fight to make equal civil rights legal.
I remember thinking, under stress, “I hope they choke.” That’s not true. Even though I did my best to make the salads and wraps extra-gay, I don’t want to harm the customers. (Otherwise I may have been moved to spit on their food. I didn’t, because that’s going too far.) The only thing that kept me going without screaming or storming off was simply knowing that I’m right. These people won’t choke on their food—I wouldn’t wish that, just as I wouldn’t wish anyone go hungry—but they will end up hurting. It’s going to be a long fall from the saddles of their high horses, once we do have equal marriage rights. Their descendants will be ashamed of them, just as I’m ashamed of my grandparents’ support of segregation. When their children and grandchildren ask, “How was it possible to be Christian and oppose equal rights?” their own words will choke them. They don’t need food to do it for them.
When they go on about “family values,” it’s clearly only their families they value. That arrogance, self-righteousness, and desire for their opponents to suffer: that’s the least Christ-like attitude of all.
The evangelical bigots have their ignorance bases covered. Chick-fil-A employees, LGBT or not, will be absolutely fine. Bible thumpers are going to voice their support with greenbacks, as they always have done.
When this first started, I implored my friends and allies not to boycott. Now, if I didn’t work there, I’d be boycotting too. That much hypocrisy and hatred leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and the last thing I want to eat is their chicken.