I am not naïve to the discriminatory practices of corporate businesses or new to the tactless and thoughtless behaviors humanity engages in to protect and promote their moral superiority. I began advocating for the equal treatment of minorities back in my conservative private high school in Detroit, Mi where I, along with a band of committed students, ran a diversity council attempting to bring awareness and understanding to a number of sensitive and divisive issues. My experiences there led me to work for two statewide LGBTQ organizations, battling against discriminatory amendments aimed at denying rights to their citizens; citizens of all ages, races, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. As I traveled around the state, appealing to the compassion of people and informing these individuals about the potential ramifications of such legislation and how pervasive the consequences would be, I was often met with fervent support or ardent opposition for my cause. More often than not though, I was met with bland indifference. People often did not care or were blithely unaware of the issues at large, or some even gave me the “governments are corrupted and therefore I am not going to participate in politics” shtick – these same individuals would complain endlessly about raising tuition prices, climbing unemployment rates, or lack of health insurance coverage.
As I logged onto Facebook this morning, I was inundated with friends’ frustrated statuses regarding the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day and the overall controversy. My friends were outraged that a business donates money to anti-gay causes and organizations and dismay that people, knowing full well the hateful politics of Chick-Fil-A, would continue to support Chick-Fil-A and more so now because of their anti-marriage stance.
Corporate boycotts based upon religious and moral ideology seem to be the current trend in the ongoing Culture War phenomenon. With greater accessibility to news information and greater ability to share said information through social networking sites, individuals are more in tune and waking up more to the social injustices that exist. More than ever before, people are concerned about where their food is coming from and how it is prepared, the ethical policies of businesses, and the political, social, and cultural values that corporations and the leaders of said corporations uphold. We have known for awhile that businesses have funded political candidates, charities and organizations, as well backed political candidates. The President of Urban Outfitters donated money to formal presidential candidate Rick Santorum while Best Buy donated money to the campaign of socially conservative Minnesota candidate Tom Emmer. We also are aware that a number of states and businesses allow for workplace discrimination and termination based upon actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The Boy Scouts of America openly bars queer people from serving in positions in authority and Exxon Mobile earned the Human Rights Campaign’s first-ever negative score on their annual Corporate Equality Index. We also know corporations explore loopholes in legislative regulations to reduce costs and profits at the detriment of consumer health and environmental sustainability. So my question is, “why do the anti-discriminatory comments of Chick-Fil-A come as a shock?” Also follow-up question, “what are you going to do about it?”
Boycotting Chick-Fil-A is an ok start. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A and there are none in the city of Reno, so I couldn’t indulge in the genetically modified, hormone-dripping, chicken byproduct even if I wanted to. So what’s next? I could write a scathing Facebook status about the awful practices of Chick-Fil-A and encourage all of my friends to not eat there. Check! So far I have received thirty-two likes and ten comments of enthusiastic support. However the majority of my friends are (A) Queer (B) Activists (C) Queer Activists and therefore my comments would probably be read by like-minded individuals. So what’s next?
I feel that for the majority of individuals, their political activism ends there. For many, there is a belief that liking a Facebook status or generating one your own is the equivalent of voting or sending a letter to your local representative. In my opinion, they are not the same thing and in no way equivalent to one another. Chick-Fil-A is a very small drop in a much larger bucket. We are outraged today by Chick-Fil-A but what about all the other businesses that promote, fund, and/or encourage anti-queer policies, initiatives, and beliefs.
We are in the midst of an election cycle where citizens will have the ability to determine which political leaders will guide this nation into the future. Do not assume your vote is pointless or lack of knowledge of local candidates/ordinances is a justifiable excuse for not voting. Do not assume that everything will work out with little effort or initiative on your part. Do not assume someone else will fight your battle for you nor assume that others’ battles do not concern you. Get mad, get educated, get madder, and then go out and do something about it.
Tabling at events, registering neighbors to vote, and educating yourself on the issues seems daunting and time-consuming; far more time-consuming then simply clicking a “like” button. However, these methods are certainly more impactful. So, as a queer man, I understand the frustration of my fellow community members and allies, however I then challenge us to question “What else could we be doing to help, to organize, and to protest?”
Post written by Christopher Daniels. Christopher Daniels has actively been involved in the LGBTQ community for the past twelve years, majoring in Psychology, Women’s Studies, and LGBT Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Currently, Christopher works as a Community Educator in Reno, NV and is a firm supporter of social equity and true social justice for underrepresented communities and populations.