Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: Still won’t eat mor chikin

Have you ever taken a stand for something you believe in? If so, did it last?

I stopped eating at Chick-fil-A right after its so-called Customer Appreciation Day. Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was behind the effort, urging people across the country to “affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse” by showing up at the chicken chain on Aug. 1, 2012. This event followed Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy’s public comments that he opposed same-sex marriage.

Lines snaked from the chain’s locations that day, seemingly “affirming” that many customers of the restaurant also opposed same-sex marriage and supported other conservative “values” of those behind the fast-food chain. That’s when I said no more.

That was five years ago, yet I may be the only person left without the remnants of their chicken sandwich or shake in my car. Almost on a consistent basis at work, Chick-fil-A delivers food and everyone takes part but me. Colleagues who know about my protest still offer me a sandwich, even defending the chain on being different than back then. I remind them that if a business publicly celebrated the fact they didn’t have the same legal rights as their seemingly superior customers, they would never take another bite of the offensive food. A passing sad smile crosses their face before they partake in their free lunch, almost feeling sorry for what they must perceive as a delusion on my part.

It’s not just straight people. I know plenty of lesbians and gays who still eat at the restaurant. They joke that the food is just too good to pass up, and I say no food is worth self-hatred. Yet again I am left alone, as if I am out of style and life has changed enough to justify my fellow LGBT consumers to return to their old habits.

Of course, there are plenty of companies that are not supportive of our community, and it can be exhausting to make sure to remember them all and not spend money with them. Yet, I am a firm believer that you vote with your dollar, and if there is a company like Chick-fil-A with executives who blatantly let you know how much they do not like you as a human being, can you seriously continue to do business with them without losing your integrity?

Not everyone has opposed my views of the company. As a morning show co-host years ago, prior to its Customer Appreciate Day, Chick-fil-A wanted to do a promotion with us, but suggested I be left out of it because of my sexuality. My host and co-hosts said we were a team, and if I wasn’t included, we wouldn’t do it. I have no idea how much money had been turned down for the station as part of that failed promotion, but I was never so proud to stand next to that group of people. Integrity over money.

I will no doubt be offered a chicken sandwich or a spotted cow toy at work sometime soon, I am sure, but because I believe in myself and love who I am, the answer will always be, “No, thank you.”