In what many may see as a shocking twist, the leader of an LGBT organization has spent the past few months developing a relationship with Chick-Fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy, and now calls him his friend.
In the olden days, aka the 1950′s, and ’60′s, it was not at all uncommon for leaders of political parties to socialize. There was civility and even statesmanship in politics.
When I was growing up in the 1970′s and ’80′s (OK, the ’60′s too,) we never knew our neighbors’ political affiliations. Heck, even my father refused to declare he was a Republican (in his later, wiser years, he became an avowed Democrat.)
Shane Windmeyer, the founder and head of Campus Pride, an LGBT students’ right group, had lead strong attacks against Dan Cathy and his Chick-Fil-A corporation for their funding of anti-gay groups and strident opposition to marriage equality.
Now, after calls, texts, and even a trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl as Cathy’s guest, Windmeyer says, “I am coming out in a new way, as a friend of Chick-fil-A’s president and COO, Dan Cathy” because his view of the man was “flawed.”
In “Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A,” at The Huffington Post, Windmeyer also says Cathy has opened the books on Chick-Fil-A’s charity, the Winshape Foundation, and no longer does he see contributions to extremist anti-gay groups, like Family Research Council (which was never a huge recipient of Chick-Fil-A money).
But Windmeyer also acknowledges that Cathy, while seeking to understand him and gay people better, will “never change.”
And that’s OK.
The “culture wars” and the battle to extend marriage to same-sex couples was never about Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A, chicken sandwiches, or — as too many on the right falsely claimed — Dan Cathy’s “First Amendment” rights.
But they are about funding anti-gay hate.
Until Dan Cathy, the Cathy family, Chick-Fil-A, the Winshape Foundation, and any other non-profits the Cathy family funds stop funding groups that are working to oppose equality for LGBT people, the LGBT community should not support Chick-Fil-A.
Every dollar donated to groups that actively oppose the rights of gay people is a dollar that feeds hate, which fuels the anti-LGBTQ suicides of our youth and teens at rates quadruple those of their heterosexual peers.
It’s great that Shane and Dan are friends. I hope that more gay people take an active role in reaching out to those who oppose us, and try to get to know them as human beings. And I hope more people like Dan Cathy do as well.
Those friendship are important, and part of the larger equation to a world where discrimination and hate end.
Friendships are important. Words are important. Deeds are important.
When Chick-Fil-A stops funding hate, I’ll be happy to have a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Maybe even a deluxe.
TODAY AT 2:30 PM ET The Huffington Post is hosting a live chat on Windmeyer’s “coming out” and the LGBT community’s relationship with Chick-Fil-A.
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