|Mind your own|
“”To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
|—Official Chick-fil-A statement of corporate purpose|
“”Now for years, Chick-fil-A has donated millions to anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council, the National Christian Foundation, and Exodus International, but always denied they were anti-gay. Then, two weeks ago, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy came out of the tolerance closet and said, "Well, guilty as charged." No surprise there. Dan Cathy is the farthest thing from gay. Even his name is boy-girl!
|—Stephen Colbert on the August 6th, 2012, edition of The Colbert Report|
Chick-fil-A is an American fast food restaurant chain. In July 2012, the company's owners were called out for having close ties to anti-gay organizations throughout the United States. The company was founded by deeply religious Southerners, and the restaurants are closed on Sunday. Their chicken, though a tad pricey, is pretty tasty, as is their lemonade, and their restaurants tend to be well-kept and they provide good pay and benefits to the workers. Chick-fil-A is also known for its silly advertisements featuring cows attempting to convince people to eat more chicken. They're dairy cows, so they don't need to worry about becoming burgers, at least not until they hit middle-age, but it's good for them to be showing solidarity with their bovine relatives.
Gay marriage controversy
In July 2012, the company's COO, Dan Cathy, went on the record with his and his company's opposition to gay marriage, based on his firm belief in the (probably whitewashed) Biblical definition of marriage and implying that people who refuse to let religious fanatics tell them what to do are "prideful and arrogant".
Municipal politicians in both Chicago and Boston expressed the desire to block the company's expansion in their cities (which, unfortunately, gave ammunition to those trying to frame the issue as "free speech" rather than bigotry).
On 1 August 2012, activists running the gamut of the political spectrum, from "Isn't it nice that we have something that gay people don't?" to "Isn't it too bad that there are laws against beating gays to death?", flooded their local Chick-fil-A to eat a tasty sandwich and to show their support for Cathy's stance in an event which Mike Huckabee dubbed "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day". In response, gays and their supporters held a less-popular but relatively uncontroversial "Same Sex Kiss at Chick-fil-A" day on 3 August 2012.
Internet in uproar
The internet and social media responded to the news quite vigorously, despite attempts from the company to backpedal on Cathy's statements. Image-sharing sites were flooded with photographs of the heavy crowds on 1 August 2012 as well as images of the signature Chick-fil-A billboard cows erroneously defending Cathy's statements as a First Amendment issue or comparing the company to the Westboro Baptist Church. Blogging sites and forums revealed the misunderstanding of many Americans who believed that calls to boycott the restaurant were because of Cathy's statements when in fact they were responses to the many charitable donations that Chick-fil-A had made to anti-gay/"marriage protection" groups.
Suddenly the center of attention
A few days after Cathy's statements, in a fashion reminiscent of Kenneth Lay, Chick-fil-A's PR executive was summoned to the side of the Lord through natural causes. Some grave-dancing occurred, but not in the same volume as occurred when, say, Christopher Hitchens died.
In response to Cathy's statements, the Jim Henson Company backed out of an upcoming promotional deal, stating quite unambiguously that they could not continue their relationship with Chick-fil-A based on their anti-gay stance, and donating the money they had received from Chick-fil-A to the gay rights support group GLAAD. Chick-fil-A, however, related to their customers that the cancelled promotion was due to a "safety issue" with their toys.
Additionally, within days of Cathy's statements, a Facebook account for one "Abby Farle" began actively defending Chick-fil-A and citing Bible verses on the company's Facebook page. Some savvy users pointed out that the account was only a few days old and that the profile picture was a ShutterStock stock photo. The account later disappeared into Facebook oblivion and accusations of sock puppetry became widespread.
As early as a week after everyone had their fill of homophobic chicken, a majority of individual Americans still regarded Chick-fil-A favorably, despite calls for a boycott. The company's brand index (a metric used by marketing agencies to score popularity and exposure among businesses and consumers), however, did not fare so well, as economists and business experts have come to recognize the financial risks with openly supporting an ideology that alienates a large portion of its potential consumer-base. But it's fine and dandy to single Chick-Fil-A out while literally hundreds of other businesses have failing records on LGBTQ causes[note 1] and donated to openly anti-gay organizations, while changing their logos rainbow during some month in the summer and only in some countries.
Chick-fil-A goes woke
|—Turning Point USA influencer Morgonn McMichael|
Chick-fil-A's bromance with the homophobes ended a decade later. In May 2023, far-right personalities on social media (notably including Charlie Kirk), fresh off of a right wing cancel culture campaign over Bud Light, discovered that Chick-fil-A had a diversity, equity, and inclusion department… as well as a web page for the department, headlined by the management-speak slogan "Committed to being Better at Together". As concepts on the web page like "creating a culture of belonging" and "a great company is a caring company" were thoroughly distasteful to many modern Republicans and American Christians, this led to an uproar, with many on social media threatening boycotts over what they saw as Chick-fil-A going "woke".
It was unclear why the social media mob noticed this department only then; Chick-fil-A had DEI policies for a long time, and the vice president that was the subject of much of the uproar (Erick McReynolds) had been in Chick-fil-A's DEI management since 2020.
- Even those with passing scores by the HRC are suspect.
- Stephen Colbert mocks defenders of Chick-Fil-A. Daily KOS, 7 August 2012.
- Emma Green, Chick-fil-A: Selling Chicken With a Side of God. Archived from The Atlantic, 8 September 2014.
- Chick-fil-A Kiss Day: Gay Rights Activists Hold Kiss-Ins At Restaurants Nationwide, Huffington Post
- Investigation Reveals Depth of Chick-fil-A's Ties to Anti-Gay Causes
- Jim Henson Company And Chick-fil-A: 'Muppets' Makers Sever Ties With Anti-Gay Fast Food Chain, Huffington Post
- Chick-fil-A now lying for Jesus that the Muppets are unsafe, Daily Kos
- Chick-fil-A Accused of Setting Up Fake Facebook Account, Mashable
- Keely, M. (June 23, 2019). "These 9 Pride-celebrating companies donated millions to anti-gay Congress members". LGBTQ Nation. Accessed January 2, 2022.
- Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Corporate Equality Index. (2019). Cited in Fiorillo, V. "Boycotting Chick-fil-A? Here Are 243 Other Companies You Might Want to Avoid" Philadelphia Magazine. Accessed January 2, 2022.
- Taylor, K. (June 5, 2021). "Walmart, McDonald's, and Amazon are among companies celebrating Pride after donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who voted against the Equality Act". Business Insider. Accessed January 2, 2022.
- "‘No Longer the Lord’s Chicken’: ‘Christian Woman’ Says She’s ‘Grieving’ Over ‘Woke’ Chick-fil-A Hiring a Diversity Officer" by David Badash, New Civil Rights Movement, 2023 June 2.
- "How Chick-fil-A became a target for going ‘woke’" by Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business, 2023 June 2
- "Why Chick-fil-A Is Drawing Fire Over a ‘Culture of Belonging’" by Jesus Jimenez, New York Times, 2023 May 31
- "This Is Why Conservatives Are Outraged And Calling Chick-fil-A 'Woke'" by Candace McDuffie, Root, 2023 June 1
- "Committed to being Better at Together", Chick-fil-A diversity page