Complicit consumerism

photo by Kara Rieger

Kara Rieger

photo by Kara Rieger

Logan Crews, editor-in-chief

I’ve heard a million times that I’m lucky. I’m lucky I was born in 2000 to the Crews family in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. I’m lucky I came out as queer and transgender to open arms and only slight awkwardness. I’m lucky I don’t have to shield myself from violent discrimination. I’m grateful, and I want to make that clear. But I also want to make clear that just because people don’t spit in my face for being myself doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Sometimes I’d rather strangers beat me up than watch friends come in with Chick-fil-A bags, family put coins into a Salvation Army bucket at Christmas or worst of all, continue to do so after they learn their money is funding anti-LGBT organizations. Organizations that systematically tear down LGBT rights, eradicating queer culture in ways that make a spit in the face sound delightful. And for you Chick-fil-A fans reading this: yes, I’m going there, and you’re going to put down your waffle fries to listen up.

According to Snopes, Chick-fil-A has donated more than $1.7 million (about a sixth of their total grants) to Christian organizations such as The Marriage & Family Legacy Fund, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the National Christian Foundation which all uphold heterosexual marriage. Now, if that was all, I wouldn’t care. Over two-thirds of the country believes in the right to marry no matter your sexuality according to USA Today, so organizations with religious beliefs like that don’t bother me. But Chick-Fil-A has also donated over $200,000 in 2015 alone to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a residential home in Georgia that attempts to purge boys of homosexual desire or identification. It’s conversion therapy, a practice condemned by the American Psychiatric Association because of the psychological, sometimes physical, harm it causes. Back in 2015, CEO Dan Cathy said Chick-fil-A would stay out of LGBT issues, but their IRS returns still showed a steady stream of money into the same anti-LGBT organizations, such as the Salvation Army. The evangelical organization known for ringing bells around the holidays to raise money for people in need won’t accept the LGBT homeless, especially transgender people, into their shelters or services. No, Chick-fil-A isn’t the one kicking these people to the curb, but they’re complicit. You are too if you spend your money there. How would you feel if one of your dollars funded the door that closed on a cold, starving person? I hope you would feel equally as violated. So excuse me if I get a little angry when I see anyone spread that underground web of bigotry just because they favor chicken and a “my pleasure” over the safety of queer people.

It means nothing to be pro-LGBT on social media if you walk in after lunch with your chicken sandwich and waffle fries.”

The thing is, this isn’t news anymore. There’s no excuse. Media started buzzing about Chick-fil-A and other questionable organizations years ago, so unless you’re just really out of the loop, you can’t exactly plead ignorance. Students seem to be able to stand in a line outside their counselor’s office forever to change a class in their schedule, but they can’t afford to go another quarter-mile down Manchester to purchase their chicken elsewhere. Ironically, a good portion of the people I see frequenting Chick-Fil-A are the same people who went to Pride for the photo-op and retweet shallow “love is love” tweets. It means nothing to be pro-LGBT on social media if you walk in after lunch with your chicken sandwich and waffle fries. If you were a true ally, you’d give the money you’d usually spend on Chick-Fil-A to a local LGBT organization that helps people way more than your tweets ever could. You’d choose to stop being complicit.

Unfortunately, there are countless corporations and people in our society who quietly fund negative societal change. According to Paper Magazine, Philip Anschutz, owner of the music festival Coachella, is one of the biggest donors of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian organization that sponsors over 200 anti-LGBT bills in 34 states. Before this news came out, though, it’d be hard to imagine an event like Coachella with a predominantly liberal audience watching mostly liberal celebrities like Beyoncé supporting anti-LGBT anything, especially governmental influence. But that’s something big. Think of all the small businesses who might not donate money to anti-queer organizations but have upheld bigotry by denying service to or discriminating against LGBT people. A Christian baker in Colorado gained media attention from CNN to BBC after going to the Supreme Court because he refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Think of all the queer customers who were turned down or slandered but haven’t gone to the Supreme Court to gain public awareness. I’m sure even I have purchased something from a local business that, if they knew I was transgender, would want to kick me out. We don’t know about all those places, but we should try to. As consumers, as allies, as humans, we should know where our money is going. We should care where our money is going. We should choose to stop watering the roots of discrimination that gives hatred a platform above ground.