Fla. Chick-fil-A Tagged with Homophobic Slurs
Gay-hostile eatery Chick-fil-A was the object of attention by a trio of vandals in Davie, Florida. But the spray paint-wielding taggers evidently didn’t get the memo that the popular chain restaurant opposes full and equal legal rights for GLBT Americans and their families; messages left by the threesome on the building were anti-gay in content, just like the sentiments espoused by the chain’s owners.
Local newspaper the Sun Sentinel reported on the incident in a June 7 article. "Around 1 a.m. June 8, surveillance cameras recorded the group walking to and from the Chick-fil-A at 1900 S. University Drive in Davie. Video also showed one of the men facing a wall and spray-painting anti-gay slurs on it, police said," the article reported. The Sun-Sentinel article also said that a female accomplice served as a lookout as the tagging took place.
Cleaning the anti-gay messages off the building cost the business in excess of $1,000, the story said. Other area publications, including the South Florida Gay News, picked up the story, which also appeared at the Huffington Post.
"Last year Chick-Fil-A franchises across the country were vandalized with messages of marriage equality after the chain’s president [Dan Cathy] came out against same-sex marriage," the Huffington Post reported in a June 18 article.
After Cathy’s anti-gay remarks, "an artist in California created a Banksy-esque mural of a cow painting the message ’Taste Like Hate’ on a Chick-Fil-A," the article added.
In contrast, the graffiti left this month at the Davie location took on a different tone. "Fags," one legend, spray-painted in green read; another, in blue, declared, "We love cock."
Cathy -- scion of the family that opened the chain’s first restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1967 -- sparked a national outcry with his anti-gay remarks, including comments to the effect that gay couples and their children do not deserve the benefit of marriage and the more than 1,000 rights and protections that the legal contract of marriage provides.
"I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ’We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about," Cathy said during an interview.
Cathy has said that Chick-fil-A "operate[s] on Biblical principles," and when religious conservatives, responding to an initiative started by right-wing politician Mike Huckabee, rallied to the chain for a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" last Aug. 1, marriage equality advocates called the chain out on its perceived hypocrisy.
The Bible contains a half-dozen passages widely interpreted by anti-gay Christians to condemn gays. But the Bible also instructs the faithful to supply water to anyone who might ask for it, even an opponent -- so when a young woman named Jackson A. Pearce posted a YouTube video that encouraged marriage equality supporters -- or, in this case, sipporters -- to visit the restaurant and ask for a free cup of water, it was one way of underlining how the practice of cherry-picking biblical passages can be a two-edged sword.
"I love Chick-fil-A," Pearce testified in her video. "I mean, I really, really love Chick-fil-A.... Now, I’ve always known that Chick-fil-A operates off some pretty strict religiously based principles," the young woman adds, going on to say, "I’d also always heard that they supported organizations that were, among other things, anti-gay marriage."
After noting how she’d been willing to "look the other way" for a while, Pearce went on to describe how, in the wake of Cathy’s antigay comments, she could no longer do so. After taking exception to some of Cathy’s comments about the nature of the "traditional family," and noting that the "biblical definition of marriage involves a man and potentially more than one woman, and as many concubines as he wants to hire," Pearce went on to note other biblical admonitions imposing standards of conduct on relationships that, by today’s standards, would seem outrageous -- a rapist being forced to marry his victim, for instance, or a widow being compelled to marry her dead husband’s brother. Biblical chapter and verse citations appeared in the video as references to Pearce’s commentary.
"If you’re going to claim that you stand up for biblical principles, stand up for them," Pearce added. "But that means stand up for all of them. Don’t just stand up for the ones that give you a person to hate..."
Toward the end of the five-and-a-half minute video, Pearce cited Proverbs, 25:21: "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink." Pearce then encouraged her listeners in favor of marriage equality to visit Chick-fil-A on August 1 and "ask for a large water. If they say that you need to order something, cite Proverbs 25:21. I mean, technically, if they’re operating on biblical principles, they should give you an entire combo meal if your stomach growls, but let’s keep it simple: Just ask for a large water, and nothing else."
Chick-fil-A enjoyed a surge of business last Aug. 1, as anti-gay religious conservatives dined out in droves, but even without the additional revenue generated from the day requests for water seemed unlikely to put much a dent in the company’s profits. Chick-fil-A has such deep pockets that its largesse to anti-gay groups is noteworthy.
In 2010, according to EqualityMatters in a July 2, 2012 posting, the chain provided almost $2 million to groups that work against civil equality for GLBT Americans. The business has lent its financial support to the Family Research Council and Exodus International, the latter being a religious organization dedicated to the idea that gays can be "cured" through prayer.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.