Fowl Play: How Chick-Fil-A Almost Ruined My Family

Raising My Rainbow is written by the mother of a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son. She’s chronicling their journey right here on Queerty. Read up on RMR‘s cast of characters.

At one point last week I was pretty sure that Chick-Fil-A had ruined my family.

When the anti-gay controversy about Chick-Fil-A broke out over the summer, it was a no-brainer for C.J.’s Dad and me to have a conversation with our sons about the company’s beliefs and decide as a family that we weren’t going to eat there anymore.

Most people assumed our anti-Chick-Fil-A stance was based on our love and support of my gay brother.  It’s a correct assumption, but a limited one:  My husband, my sons and I decided to boycott Chick-Fil-A in love and support of the entire LGBTQ community. And, more importantly, because in our house we believe that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated that way.

To us, there is no excuse for hate and discrimination, not even the go-to “the Bible told me so” explanation.  Call us crazy.

We also wanted to use the situation to teach a life lesson: sometime you have to sacrifice in order to stand up for what you believe in. Chick-Fil-A has long been a favorite of C.J. and his brother.  They would miss the food for sure.

Our kids agreed with our decision.  Our 9-year-old son, CJ’s brother, actually wrote a letter to Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy. Even 5-year-old C.J.,  who is gender nonconforming, understands that the fast-food chain is mean to some people and that’s not okay.

My husband and I made it quite clear to those close to us—especially those people who, on occasion, feed our kids when we are not around—that we would not be eating at Chick-Fil-A.

That was our decision, though—if someone we knew didn’t make the same decision, we were disappointed but we didn’t un-friend them. We just asked them to get their fill of those homophobic nuggets, sandwiches and waffle fries when we weren’t around. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.

We’ve learned that sometimes that’s easier said than done.

Last week, a member of our family had a few moments alone with our oldest son and engaged C.J.’s brother in a conversation about Chick-Fil-A.  That lead to this family member explaining the biblical definition of marriage and what the Bible says about homosexuality to our 9-year-old.

We. Were. Pissed.

We felt like we had been purposefully betrayed and deceived, like our son had been part of talk that was inappropriate because of our beliefs, his age, the topic and the family member’s knowledge that we are LGBTQ allies through and through.  And that’s not even taking into account that our son’s beloved uncle is gay and his brother has a very high likelihood of being gay or transgender.

Once we took a few days and few steps back, we realized that we assume that people in our family’s lives will behave as we expected them to.

“The easiest way to get your expectations unmet is to fail to communicate those expectations to the person who is supposed to meet them,” someone said to me recently. We had never clearly communicated how we expected the adults in our lives to conduct themselves around our children when it came to matters of religion and being LGBTQ.

So we sat down with this family member and, for the first time, said out loud what we expect of them and others.  Initially, it felt weird to do it.  But afterward, it felt weird that we hadn’t done it earlier.

We had never said out-loud to the people in our lives:

1.  Please do not talk about religion to our children. We believe that God is more about love, kindness and inclusiveness than he is about fear, hate and shame.  We believe that He created each person perfectly and without flaw and that, more than anything, he wants each person to be treated that way.  And, if judgment is necessary for entrance into Heaven that it is God’s to give, not ours.

Whether you agree with our religious views or not, let’s all play it safe and refrain from engaging children in conversations meant to sway them.  If you feel like it’s your calling to spread the word of your God or your religion, please don’t spread it onto our children.

2.  If you have something unkind (at best) or hateful (at worst) to say about the LGBTQ community we have to insist that you do not say it around us or our children.  We’ve ended friendships for less and do realize that sometimes family ties are a little trickier to deal with.

All that being said, anyone—family or not—who teaches our children that their uncle and other LGBTQ people aren’t equal, are sinful, and should be excluded from things like civil rights will be eliminated from our lives.

3.  When our family is around, please conduct yourself as if a member of the LGBTQ community is in your presence. Because our child is gender nonconforming and has been for more than half of his life, statistically speaking he has about a 75% chance of being a member of the LGBTQ community.  

4.  Bullies aren’t just at school; all too often they are in the home. Because of his gender nonconformity, our child has a much higher likelihood of attempting suicide, experiencing major depression, abusing substances, developing addiction and practicing unsafe sex and behaviors.  We can lower the likelihood of all of those things being in his life if we protect him from bullies.

Our home and family has to be a safe, loving and accepting place for him. Always. If you can’t help create that kind of environment then you are probably helping to destroy it —which means you shouldn’t be a part of it at all.

Thankfully, our family member listened to our expectations and agreed to meet them in the future. We agreed to forgive and try to move forward.  We also agreed that Chick-Fil-A wasn’t what almost ruined our family–that family member’s actions and our failure to communicate our expectations did.

Would you allow someone with different religious beliefs to talk to your children about religion without you around?

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  • Cam

    That other family member seems very sneaky and manipulative. The author’s family attitudes could not have escaped their notice, and they did not have this discusssion in front of the entire family. They waited until they were alone with a child and then attempted to tell them that members of the family were sinners and evil.

    That is a sneaky, hateful and a complete breach of trust. Be careful with that family member in the future. They are the type that will be saying things around town leading to unkind things being said or posted about your family.

  • Taliaferro

    We all have two families, the biological one and the one composed of people we care about and who care about us who share the same values and beliefs. Sometimes, even in 2012, members of the LGBT community must choose one over the other. If your biological family creates problems with THEIR intolerant beliefs, then you have the right to separate yourself from them. Many I know have.

  • NotStr8Acting

    Family no longer means…blood to me. I mean that’s such an outdated notion. That family is automatically the people you are born into. My good friend who is gay, had a family where his brothers had a violent track record with a criminal past and his parents stood by his brothers side. His sister got pregnant at 15, and his parents loved her and the baby for it. And when he came out of the closet? ALL of them shunned him, made him feel like bacteria, and eventually he was kicked out of his home and left to be homeless at 16. 16! His parents would rather their child die of hunger in the streets for being gay than be under their roof. Is that a family? I mean, should my friend go around saying “Well, I have these people in my life who share some DNA with me, but told me that I am evil, and left me homeless as a child. But they are family”….No. They are not. Family is his group of friends who supported him, helped, him, loved him, encouraged him, and allowed him to be the professor at a University he is today. Too often, some gay people have a relationship with their heavily homophobic biological family- not for themselves or because that homophobic biologicl families presence enriches their lives (which is one thing) but they do it as a favor for the biological family. Sometimes without even knowing it.
    It’s 2012. Family is truly anything you want it to be, and what dosters LOVE in your life.

  • NotStr8Acting

    @Taliaferro: LOL I pretty much wrote exactly what you did without reading your post. Hahaha. And I concur with your heartfelt sentiments!

  • Seth

    In this country, for the time being anyway, we have a thing called freedom of religion. This means we are free to believe whatever we want, and to engage in lawful practices that vary far and wide, including having no religious beliefs. Our freedom to share our beliefs and advocate our practices is not a power to impose our beliefs and practices on others. Just as you are free to speak about your beliefs and practices when asked, you cannot obligate others to remain silent on your behalf. You can try as hard as you like, but you are not entitled to raise your children inside a carefully orchestrated vacuum.

    I WILL tell your child what your scriptures say. I WILL explain to your child what horrible consequences they have for some people. I WILL tell your child what I believe and that other people believe different things. If they’re old enough for exposure to religion, then they’re old enough to be exposed to as wide a variety as possible.

  • schlukitz

    “I WILL tell your child what your scriptures say.”

    “I WILL explain to your child what horrible consequences they have for some people”.

    “I WILL tell your child what I believe and that other people believe different things.”

    Do you not hear how intimidating and threatening you sound telling the parent of a child what you will do, despite having been asked not to? Can you not even respect the wishes of those who choose not to have religion used as a cudgel with which to batter and maul people with? You are abuse your freedom of speech to abuse those who do not support your religious beliefs. And that is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    You are no better than an unwelcome guest who has been asked to leave someone’s house and not come back because you have abused your guest privileges and who then turns around and tells his host that he will come back whenever he feels like it, even if it means crashing through the door.

    You are nothing more than a bully who uses the bible to attack, verbally abuse and hurt people. And you wonder why Christians like you are so hated and despised by those who hold different beliefs than you do?

  • LaTeesha

    @Seth: You wouldn’t do any of those things around my kids because you’re a coward. One look from this grizzly momma and you’d tuck tail and run. I’ve met your sorry ass kind and they’re always chicken pussy.

  • Ruhlmann

    If I had a kid there would be no conversation about religion except in the destructive superstition context.

  • Seth


    “Do you not hear how intimidating and threatening you sound”
    To someone who is desperately trying to raise their innocent pups in a nice, pat little vacuum, perhaps. Besides, intimidation would appear to be a virtue, to hear LaQueefa tell it.

    “Can you not even respect the wishes”… “You are abuse [sic] your freedom of speech”
    Firstly, I cannot be asked to give up my civil right to free speech for your supposed need for respect. How can you call yourself an American (or member of any free country, assuming you are), if your neighbor’s civil rights must be truncated in order to give you the comfortable gap to stretch your tentacles into? I will not be intimidated or guilted into leaving your little breeding project immaculate.

    Secondly, it’s in the best interests of the children. Your wish is that I be muzzled and their ears be plugged. Now, you’re entitled to compete with your own dogma (try applied faith for once), but you have no right to eliminate me. The problem is that what your kids hear from me is going to make a lot more sense than your sacred gobbledygook, and you don’t have the freedom nor will to evolve. You do violence to the human condition.

    “You are no better than an unwelcome guest”
    No ma’am. We all live in the same big, bright world. Wild horses couldn’t drag me into your dark little fortress of ignorance. Unless you keep your kids locked up at all times (which sadly, IS becoming a dominant strategy lately), they’ll have an opportunity to rap with me at a time and place of their choosing. This street, this neighborhood, this city is MINE just as much as it is yours, and I refute you for suggesting that I have no right to live among you if I am not alike or beholden to you.

    “You are nothing more than a bully”
    No, I am nothing more than a person violently scorned for effortlessly demonstrating that the world works in ways beyond and contrary to the imagination of any one person or philosophical movement. Your entitled tone and hurtful aim is bullying.

  • Seth

    @LaTeesha: OOoh ghirl, you is bad. You is bad. Rawwwr.

    And you must be trolling, because your argument doesn’t even make sense. If it’s cowardice to contradict you and tell your kids that actually, most people in the world do NOT care if someone is gay, then it would make it bravery to be silent for fear of your… Alaskan bluster?

    Chickens have cloaca, not vaginas, but your closing sentence is lost on me. While suggesting that I won’t stand up to you, you also seem to be saying that anyone who doesn’t stand up to you is somehow inferior. Hello, here I am! And I bet you don’t say that to people you know will stand up to you. Picking your opponents for their presumed vulnerability is bullying. Your kids will learn this from you. Shame on you. Bad bear!

  • LaTeesha

    @Seth: You know you wouldn’t say that ridiculous crap to someone’s child cuz you know they would kick your butt. Plus, my 12 year old would rightly spit in your face if you got up in hers with your nonsensical self. Instead you troll internet chat boards screeching your nonsense. I stand by my original assessment – People like yourself are nothing more than chickenpussy and you know it which is why you are so defensive about being called out for having chickensnot for brains.

  • Seth

    @LaTeesha: So you proudly grant yourself and your children the right to physically assault people for expressing their religious views. You’re a lovely specimen, The Teesha. I’m sure your daughter, Bidet, will turn out just fine.

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