Elessar Younglove (they/fae)
Over the holidays I participated in events like decorating cookies and gift exchanges. I was prepared for warm times with family and friends. But the homophobic gifts exchanged under my nose reminded me just how cold December can be. It was Saturday, December 17th and my family and I were hosting our annual white elephant. Our family Christmas party is notorious for pushing stupid arguments. Whether my uncle is drunk and dismissing our dead relatives’ and any concept of the afterlife, or my grandma will just have to vote for Trump in the upcoming election, conflict is nothing new.
While our gift exchange has upset my homophobic and delusional Aunt Sarah (the tragedy of being stuck with a Taylor Swift ornament brought her to tears) it's typically a place of peace. This year the limit was $20, a rule on which we no longer budge after the infamous Gift Exchange Fight of 2015, thank God. But this year the issue was wrapped in red and white paper snug under our tree: two $10 gift cards to Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A is a notoriously homophobic fast food restaurant. They have lied about changing their donations for over 10 years. Back in September 2012, Chicago’s LGBTQ+ rights advocacy group The Civil Right Agenda (TCRA) reported that Chick-fil-A penned a letter stating that their charitable organization The WinShape Foundation was “now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” This lie was intended to placate Boston’s then-alderman Provo Joe Moreno, who had threatened to block the chain from opening a restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square. “It's one thing to say that's the way you feel — it's another thing to put it into a company policy and an official company statement,” he told the “Tribune.” Chick-fil-A’s lie assured Moreno that he’d achieved his goal of “getting Chick-fil-A to 'affirm that they do not have discriminatory policies.’” According to Buzzfeed Politics, Chick-fil-A “did not contest” this claim, nor did they clearly confirm it. But their numbers speak for themselves.
In 2017, ThinkProgress analyzed Chick-fil-A’s tax filings. Researchers found that over $1.8 million was donated to infamously queerphobic organizations. The first organization was Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This religious organization forbids its employees from any “homosexual acts.” FCA calls homophobes true Christian; they also say “tolerant” Christians are the result of a “sinful mindset.” They oppose the LGBTQ+ community include the following as one of nine points in their “Statement of Faith.” Applicants and leaders must agree and sign by the following statement: “God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness. The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.” This group has received backlash from high school students for its discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. It also received $1,653,416 from Chick-fil-A.
Another infamously queerphobic, the Salvation Army, also received donations. Chick- fil-A’s 2018 2018 tax documents show over a hundred thousand dollar donation to the Salvation Army. I don’t know if I could summarize why the Salvation Army is bad in one article, but transgender and writer Zinnia Jones can, though I will offer some highlights. In 2001, the Salvation Army of the United States made an effort to reach an agreement with the Bush administration that would have exempted religious nonprofits receiving federal support from any municipal laws prohibiting anti-gay discrimination. The church did not want to provide medical coverage to the same-sex partners of its employees, according to spokesperson David A. Fuscus. Finally, according to ThinkProgress’ 2017 data, Chick-fil-A donated $6,000 to Paul Anderson Youth Home. Paul Anderson Youth Home is a boy’s Christian home and private school. Their teachings include that homosexuality is “a rage against Jesus Christ.”
I don’t believe my aunt, uncle, or cousins are homophobic. But knowing they contributed towards an openly homophobic organization left a bitter taste in my mouth. A gift card was able to divide my family and I. While I can’t speak for their beliefs, I do have resources to offer them in the future. There are ways to research queerphobia. You can research individual contributions to political committees online. You could also research local queer friendly restaurants. I don’t believe they had any ill intentions. They just don’t know how deep homophobia bleeds. A gift is from the heart and, hopefully, the heart doesn’t have room for homophobia.