I found an interesting article when I was doing research for another post on the quasi-Christian Chick-Fil-A brand, which has just opened a Canadian branch in the Calgary International Airport. One of the reasons I’m so vehemently opposed to this company not just that they denigrate my own faith, that of Christianity, by painting it to be religion of dogma, discrimination and rules. Mine is not so as rigid as they make out, and I believe they damage other’s faiths by propagating out-dated ideals. They do that not only in the churches and Christian marketplace, but by holding this perspective aloft, they anchor the American culture to old practises: and since the world follows U.S. culture, they anchor the world.
To illustrate: this article tries to explain why “neither Dan Cathy nor Chick-Fil-A have much to lose in offending Gay and Lesbian couples.” (Nate Riggs, 2012) He says, essentially, that the LGBTQ market just isn’t big enough for the company; and it’s not the one they’ve targeted. Riggs describes Chick-Fil-A’s “focus on premium-priced, health-conscious menu options and stellar service” (Ibid) as not really being appropriate (?) for same sex couples. “These chains typically invest millions of marketing dollars to target middle-class or affluent moms between the ages of 24-45, who live in households that have 1-4 kids under the age of 12” (Ibid). Because gays and lesbians aren’t really into good food or good service; we’re probably mostly single to begin with, but even as couples (“couples with no kids (gay and straight alike)”) would rather go to a place that has alcohol (and, perhaps, is thus free of toddlers).
Wow. Can you say “stereotype”? Apparently Mr. Riggs used television sitcoms as his reference in figuring out what gays and lesbians are like, the standard “Will and Grace” model that has no family and little external interest. But the demographics are changing: or perhaps, more importantly, the proper demographics are being recognized. Even when this was written, a couple of years ago: there were plenty of male and female couples who were raising children. They were just doing so under the radar (and without legal support). The numbers have exploded since, as more and more institutions have come to recognize these families’ existence and rallied around them to protect the children. And beyond that, there are a growing number of people (including Cathy’s “target audience” of straight women mothers) who are not gay themselves but gay supportive: who are themselves as offended as gays by the restaurant’s stand against support of the emerging family values.
As I write this, I’m preparing for a Symposium next week on precisely this issue: “Redefining Family: The LGBTQ Experience” (BrownPaperTickets, 2014). It is a day-long event that addresses some of the changes that are happening in our general understanding of family, and we can all work to support people in challenging situations regarding traditional gender roles. There are a variety of topics during the day: ranging from queer parenting to travel as same-sex partners. I will be part of a panel that will be discussing the changing perspective of faith regarding same-sex relationships: precisely the issue that Dan Cathy has such a problem with. Because the status quo is changing: and it is being recognized as changing. Hopefully this will result in better protection for the most vulnerable people in this story: working same-sex couples with children. And hopefully it will also make certain chicken-selling franchises so uncomfortable that they leave the country.