I am a Liberal, Gay-Loving Person who works at Chick-fil-A

chick fil a

(Please note: This is purely my own opinion. I do not represent anyone except myself.)

For a very long time, I’ve wanted to make a Facebook status about this identity crisis that I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

I’ve finally been pushed to actually write something after the President of Chick-fil-A admitted that he was against gay marriage. (Didn’t we already know this? I’m shocked people didn’t already know.)

I work at Chick-fil-A. I absolutely love my job. Let me repeat that: I love my job. I get to work with all of my friends in a safe and fun environment, while also giving great customer service and being proud of the work that I’m doing. Plus I’m making a decent wage.

I am also an intern at the Obama campaign. I am the Director of Media Relations for UNI Proud, the University of Northern Iowa’s LGBT Group. I have been to two pride festivals. I have more gay male friends than I have straight male friends.

As you can assume, my job that I love and the people that I love don’t always coincide, but they both have made me the person that I am today.

Likewise, with both “sides” of my life, I have hidden the real person that I am.

When I told one person at work that I might intern with the Obama campaign, I was immediately debated and battled. After interning over a month, I have finally told a small section of the people that I work with about my internship.

When I tell people at UNI that I have a job in my hometown, I don’t say Chick-fil-A. I always say the name of the mall I work in, or I just say I work at a restaurant. The instant I say Chick-fil-A at my school, the response is “You know they’re homophobic, right?”

And recently, my Facebook feed (and Tumblr…and Twitter) has been blown up with people boycotting Chick-fil-A and assuming that everyone who goes there or works there are all bigoted.

It makes me extremely confused about what I should tell people. When I present my conservative mother with this issue, she tells me to get over this “gay trend.” When I tell my gay friends about this, they tell me to quit my job.

Today I told one of my friends about this idea I had for the blog and she asked, “I’ve known you for a long time, but I have never understood why you as a liberal actually like your job at Chick-fil-A.”

And for over two years, while I have always known that the corporation was against an issue that I feel strongly about, it was not until recently when The New York Times and even KCCI  decided to cover the controversy that I ask myself,

Is it possible to have pride in your job, even when it doesn’t agree with your morals?

It seems that in the argument over Chick-fil-A, there is no gray area in between. Either you despise the establishment and vow to never let those delicious chicken nuggets touch your lips, or you’re Mike Huckabee and you’re a gross bigot who hates everything that’s not conservative and Christian. (And don’t get me started on Rick Santorum…)

However, it’s not all like that. There is a difference between a corporation and it’s people.

At my store, we’ve had multiple openly gay employees. While I’m pretty positive I’m the only democrat, I know that some of my co-workers don’t really care whether gay or straight people get married. And of course, there are many of my co-workers who believe that marriage should be between a man and a wife. That’s no issue, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.

And I don’t blame the people who are boycotting our store now. After all, if I only had the media’s perspective on the issue, I would be one of those people as well. But there’s so much more. One person does not represent hundreds of stores and thousands of employees, even if he is the president.

I agree that donating millions of dollars to anti-gay marriage organizations is wrong, and I understand people don’t want their money going towards that. I wouldn’t either. (Source: NY Times: Gay Rights Uproar Over Chick-fil-A Widens)

However, it also makes me sad that there are people out there who aren’t going to experience our great service and delicious food. They’re not going to understand why I think our store is so great. And it makes me extremely upset that there are going to be people out there that will automatically assume that we’re all homophobic people, when in fact, I work fantastic people, and while some may have their beliefs that are different than mine, I still respect them.

I’m definitely biased because I’m viewing this from “inside the trade” and I see it more locally than corporate wide. But my bias towards wanting the most happiness for my friends and knowing that they should get the right to get married, no matter, what also creates a rip inside of me.

And so after all of that rambling, to answer my question about whether it’s possible to have pride in your job even when it’s against your morals…

I honestly don’t know.

I know that I’m happy with where I’m working, but I know that it sucks that the president of the company doesn’t agree with my views and would purposely try to block off the happiness and equal rights that so many in our country deserve. (Though he does have every right to do so.)

I know that I’m proud of the great service that we give and the emphasis we have on treating everyone with respect. I wish that my job would stop feeling like a political statement these days.

I am proud of where I work at and the people I work with. They respect my views and I respect their views as well. I am not proud of  the corporation’s stance on marriage equality.

And so I ask, oh lovely readers of mine who have graciously read the ramblings of confusion that I have felt for so long:

Is it possible to have pride in your job, even if it’s against your morals?

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28 thoughts on “I am a Liberal, Gay-Loving Person who works at Chick-fil-A

  1. You’re an amazing young woman, Linh, and I applaud you for writing this post. We share many the same views (and political affiliation) and I’m a straight but gay loving gal who can always be counted on to stand up for gay rights.

    I’ve watched this situation unfold and hated every part of it. And I’ve also felt for the franchisees because they, like you, are by association labeled homophobic, whether that’s the case or not.

    I love Chick-Fil-A. I love their food. It’s pretty the healthiest option for any kind of fast food and while we don’t eat there often, it’s a good solution. The staff that works at our local CFA are awesome and the service they deliver is first rate. And I’m pretty sure they don’t hate gays.

    It’s a tricky situation. It’s unfortunate. Your owner has every right to have the beliefs he does and to support the political parties and ideals in which he believes. So do you and I .. and for that we are very fortunate. I don’t know what the ‘right’ answer is. For you or for me. Do you keep working somewhere that you love, or leave on general principle? Do I keep patronizing someplace that delivers both a product and a service that I like, or boycott on general principle?

    The good thing? Neither one of us are making a hasty decision – we are thinking about it, weighing the pros and the cons and thinking about all sides – and being adult and rational about it. And having conversations and writing blog posts. That, my friend, is what intelligent, well-rounded people do. They don’t call for boycotts without thinking things through and thinking about everyone OTHER than the CEO who makes up that organization–and great employees like you.

    I’m not sure yet what the answer is for me. But I know that I’m very grateful to have read this insightful post and, in some small way, to have gotten to know you. You seem pretty doggone awesome.

    Thank you again.

    • linhta7 says:

      Wow, thank you so much! Your kind words mean a lot to me. I never looked at it from a customer stand point, but it seems you are in the same boat as I am. I think you make a good point about general principle. Like most people, the instant they hear “for gay marriage” or “against gay marriage” an automatic decision is already made. I often make the same quick decision, but sometimes, it’s more complex than that.

      And you seem pretty awesome as well! Thanks for your insightful comment!

  2. Lorne Pike says:

    Great post. I love the way you think. My opinion — and no one knows better than me that I could be wrong — is that there is a broad range of jobs that go “against your morals.” If your employer were asking you to prepare the company’s anti-gay materials or organize events to openly protest against what you believe, then that would certainly be against your morals.

    But to work for a company that disagrees with your stance, well that’s a whole different level of working “against your morals.” I’ve worked as a marketing consultant for over 20 years, and one of my policies is that I won’t work for breweries, tobacco companies, or bars. I’ve stuck to that policy since 1989. Yet I don’t screen new clients to make sure their policies agree with mine. They have their decisions to make in life, and I have mine. We respect each other, and hopefully we’re each better because we’ve connected.

    Who knows… your influence among your co-workers without being confrontational may be the voice most likely to help them realize that there are good people with good minds and good morals on the other side of the debate. If you love your job, and you’re not being asked to do anything to directly oppose your beliefs, I think you have every right to hold on to your job and do it well with a smile, and yes, with pride.

    But like I said… I could be wrong. 🙂

    • linhta7 says:

      I think you’ve hit it right in the head! Respect for different opinions is essential in any issue. Sure, we have our different morals but as long as we are respected for our different ideas and viewpoints, then hopefully we’ll understand each other a little bit better.

      I also agree that there are different levels of working “against your morals,” and that is definitely something to put into consideration when doing a job.

      Thanks for your great feedback!

  3. clairecelsi says:

    Linh: Hi, I read your post through Drew McLellan’s Facebook page. First of all, I think you are a great writer. Congratulations on taking a stand on this controversial issue.

    I have had many moral dilemmas like the one now facing many Chick-Fil-A customers. I think the thing that made this particular situation worse was that the owner was so publicly adamant about his stance. When an employer who serves and employs gay people takes such a public stand on a controversial issue, he’ll risk alienating many people.

    Also, I’ve learned from experience that a private business is an entity that cannot be fully separated from the persona of its leadership. I also learned this during the Catholic Church priest sex abuse scandal that many people could not separate the actions of the leaders from the institution.

    So, you have a choice to work for this company, even though you disagree on a very fundamental issue.

    However, your argument that people should want to eat tasty chicken and experience the great customer service of dedicated employees will fall on deaf ears. In fact, some people will find that downright insulting. I know many people who take their decisions on where to eat, shop and live very seriously, based on deeply held principles and beliefs. Especially in a fast food retail space crowded with chicken sandwiches, it’s not that hard to walk away and never think about them again.

    As a fellow liberal, I know Mr. Cathy is wrong. He’s on the wrong side of history, as well. Attitudes toward gay marriage are rapidly changing. There are people like Zach Wahls who are using their influence to break down walls and challenge the power structure to affect change.

    I encourage you to continue to use your voice to do the same.

    Keep thinking, speaking out, and writing. Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

    • linhta7 says:

      You’re definitely right, sometimes it’s hard to separate a private business from the people who lead it. I wish that it could be easier, but unfortunately, there are always tough decisions to make. I also agree that people have the right to stick to their beliefs when choosing where to spend their money. It’s tough trying to figure out what is right for a situation. Thank you for the advice and for the comment!

  4. The Great and Powerful Trixie is rather SHOCKED that some ponies were unaware that Chick-Fil-A held this stance! They’ve never tried to hide it before, so she figured that it was rather OBVIOUS. She might even go so far as to say that they anypony who couldn’t see it is blindly ignorant (just like that stupid filly Twilight Sparkle.) However, Trixie must admit that she has been a bit bigoted herself in the past, particularly to zebras and buffalo (but who can blame her?)

  5. […] I’m a Liberal, Gay-Loving Person Who Works at Chick-FIL-A […]

  6. BeccaW says:

    Linh–I would like to say how much I appreciated reading this blog, and reading your opinions. It is very reassuring to be reminded that people in our great country are not simply making rash, impulsive decisions, based solely on emotion. THANK YOU for your willingness to battle through this, with all of the pros and cons, along with the rest of us. I must say, that by principle, I tend to be a “compassionate conservative” (as I like to call myself!). I disagree with homosexuality, but I am not afraid of, nor do I hate, homosexuals. I have worked with them, worked for them, learned from many, etc. Just because I disagree with someone’s life or choice, doesn’t mean that I am bigoted, hateful, or afraid. I simply disagree. And as you so aptly stated, you can disagree with someone but still respect them. We all deserve that. YOU deserve that. The situation does not have a simple answer, in my opinion, but I do believe that we will all come closer to a place we want and need to be by remembering that continued 2-way conversation (filled with mutual respect) is necessary by both sides. That’s part of what makes the human race so great. we are all different, unique, and vitally important with something to contribute to the surrounding community. When we all take the time to honestly be in community with EVERYBODY around us, we all are better off for it.

    • linhta7 says:

      This is really great, I agree having dignity and respect is definitely a great importance in any conflict. 2-way conversation and honest communication is the best way to deal with situations like these.
      Thanks for your advice!

  7. BigHetero says:

    “And of course, there are many of my co-workers who believe that marriage should be between a man and a wife. That’s no issue, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.”

    So why is it an issue if the owner is openly expressing HIS beliefs?

    • linhta7 says:

      The owner has every right to express his beliefs, but there’s a big difference between a CEO donating millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations and a few co-workers not believing in marriage equality.

      I’m not saying that he shouldn’t express his beliefs. He is entitled to them, but I also have the right to disagree with them, especially since he is a major representation of a company I am a part of, thus his views affect me.

  8. […] blog by University of Northern Iowa sophomore Linh Ta, the headline of which says it all: “I am a Liberal, Gay-Loving Person who works at Chick-fil-A.” We loved Linh’s blog because she not only raises several valid points and questions (including […]

  9. NoChickFilA4Me says:

    As a former Chick-Fil-A customer (because of all of this), let me simply say this: Yes, he has a right to his personal beliefs, the whole Cathy family can do whatever they want at the ballot box; but the organizations that received millions of dollars have their hand in state and national elections and only seek to deny rights. Organizations like Focus on the Family might simply fly under the radar if they were in fact doing something to stop divorce, but they don’t; they focus almost exclusively on the gay issue. Exodus International, on the other hand has been proven a fraud even by the person that started it. Michael Bussee is now in a relationship with another co-founder. These kinds of ‘ministries’ are not only hurtful, they are distrustful and shameful. The fact that the Cathy family has given millions to these kinds of hate-mongers cannot go unnoticed. The groups they have donated to spread lies and misinformation against an already marginalized sect of society.

    And while I am sure you are a wonderful employee, I cannot support this kind of business; that takes profits off the dollars I give them and donates them to hate-mongers who seek to deny people rights and further divide our country. I don’t see how anyone can call themselves a ‘Christian’ when they seek to deny people rights by investing in organizations that lobby against human rights. It seem so un-Christlike. And while the conservative Christian movement and every bigot from Sarah Palin to Haley Barbour and Marcus Bachmann (the latter whom seem awfully ‘light in their loafers’) continue to support Chick-Fil-A, their business and growth is simply unsustainable if they are going to cater exclusively to that market.

    I still have a hard time walking into a Cracker Barrel because of their scandal – and it’s been years since that happened. I suspect it’s going to be a long road for Chick-Fil-A – and this will not go unnoticed. At a minimum, Dan Cathy owes the LGBT community an apology and an assurance that this will never happen again. President Obama is very right on one thing: Businesses are supported by the local community that not only gives them infrastructure support, but also their hard-earned American money, which is especially more important in a down economy.

    Chick-Fil-A has a lot of work to do, and they don’t seem to be in a hurry to take reparative action. I do feel bad for their franchisees. Who knew their business model focused exclusively on pandering to conservative, right-wing ‘Christians’ with a tolerance problem? Now we know.

    • clairecelsi says:

      A franchisee would only have to Google Dan Cathy’s name to see his hatred on display. Why someone would choose to buy a franchise after knowing his background is beyond me. And I just realized…that excellent employees like Linh are just making him more money to give away to the hate groups. Good customer service = more money for hate.

    • linhta7 says:

      I agree, the corporation definitely has a lot to do if they ever want the support of a large majority of the community ever again. It’s difficult because while they have the right to voice their opinion, it’s their donations to these organizations that manipulate the public that make things more difficult.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  10. kstaxman says:

    As in all cases that deal with both civil rights and free speech it isn’t easy to truly make an informed fair decision.

    So I applaud your open discussion of what is a very complex question and it’s nice to see reason win out over emotional discourse in your post.

    I guess the real problem with this issue is that it shows just how hard and unyielding discussion and discourse have became in this country.

    For as I see it agree or disagree with Chic-fil-A they have a right to express their opinion. And they have never came out against gays having rights just the one right their right to be “married”. They aren’t asking that a gay’s right’s to work, go to school, or even to live and love be abridged only that marriage be maintained as the union between a man and a woman as it has always been.

    And while disallowing marriage does affect many benefits that married people enjoy and thus these benefits would be denied to gays if they can’t marry we deny lots of other groups these and other benefits under the law.

    But with the hate rhetoric being thrown at them you would think they advocated something akin to a total lost of rights for gays. And this is a company that as you point out hires gays and provinces a good working environment for all it’s employees. And Chic-fil-a has made no attempt to discriminant against the hiring of gays or other actions besides this one “opinion”.

    And of course I have no problem with those that disagree with Chic-fil-a’s stand on this issue not eating there. Nor do I have a problem with them expressing their displeasure with their stand. Again that is their right to free speech and free speech has to be provided to both sides in this or any other argument.

    But I do have a problem with denying Chic-fil-a’s opening new restaurants or facing actions by city’s to punish them for exercising their right to disagree with gay marriage as a policy.

    For any attempt to force or punish the free and liberal expression of thought and ideas in this country weakens this country. And as gays love to point out at one time they couldn’t express openly their ideas or expect to be accepted in this country. Why is that different than Chic-fil-a’s right to say something that many don’t agree with as long as it stays withing the bounds of stating an opinion.

    • overit says:

      This is almost a perfect response. Mens religous beliefs are what prompted this country. A marriage is SUPPOSED to be a vow between a man and wife and whatever god they believe in. Thats what I believe and Dan Cathy as well. Hes acting on his beliefs. Dont we all want to do that? Somewhere along the line, marriage also became a legal matter, which is the gay community really wants gay marriage for right? It cant just be about the principal, or about love? People can get “fake” married whenever they want. i.e. having a ceremony and some rings and vows, but it never being legally recognized. My grandpa did this. He’l be with that woman til he dies. But he doesn’t have the legal “benefits” or recognition of a legal wedding. So if its all about love why isnt that good enough? I believe in the Bible and am against gay marriage. per se. I am also a strong believer in the constitution and believe that all citizens should be entitled to the same rights. Therefore, i think the country can come up with some kind of compromise here where gay couples can enjoy the legal benefits and recognition without it necessarily being called a marriage or forcing pastors/churches to perform such. I think the whole chick-fil-a thing has been blown way out of proportion and the hate mongering on both sides is been too much. Dan Cathy is a man who acts on his beliefs. Like the author states, its a wonderful place to work with wonderful people to work with. The company has never shown any discrimination towards openly gay employees, and generally does a lot to support its communities. Lets all remember that boycotting and trying to prevent a business from opening hurts the people at the bottom the most.

      • linhta7 says:

        You definitely have the right to your own opinion, however I disagree about not allowing marriage equality. I believe it has evolved past merely a religious thing, since it is government regulated. If it were merely a religious thing, then regulate it within the religion, but when the government is involved like it is in the United State, it is necessary to show equality to all consensual adults.

    • Bonzilla says:

      kstaxman, you might want to do a bit more research about the groups to whom Chick-fil-A gives millions of dollars. They advocate making homosexuality illegal. They advocate shipping all homosexuals out of the country. Seriously? You say “They aren’t asking that a gay’s right’s to work, go to school, or even to live and love be abridged.” Dude, that’s EXACTLY what they’re asking.

  11. clairecelsi says:

    Excuse me, gay people’s right to marry is the only right in question? You are entirely missing the point. The constitution will be the only arbiter of this dispute. Not Dan Cathy, and certainly not you. Thank goodness! Rights are won. The minority would never have the rights they have now without the courts stepping in. It would still be illegal for black people to marry white people in some states. At the time, more than 70% of the population disagreed with that Supreme Court ruling.

  12. Alex says:

    As a gay male, I can tell you that I believe there is absolutely no excusable reason in my mind for someone to financially support Chick-Fil-A. Their charitable donations are attrocious and undercut what it means to be American. By funding such deplorable organizations as Focus on the Family and Exodus they have lost any shred of respect.

    The only support I’ve heard for Chick-Fil-A are 1) I’m homophobic 2) the food is good and 3) in your case, I like my job. One of those reasons is disgusting. The other two are nothing but pure laziness. There are hundreds of fast food restaurants in the US. There is lots of great tasting food in the world. And there are tons of great jobs (barring the economic situation we’re in). I love my job. And it doesn’t support hate groups- go figure.

    It disgusts me how people so easily excuse homophobia. If this were an issue of race it would be completely different.

    • linhta7 says:

      I also disagree with their donations. However, my reason for staying is definitely not pure laziness. It’s not black and white, each person is different and each case is different.

      I’m not excusing homophobia at all. I’m against it. But people’s actions cannot be purely “this” or “that.” We are human, and there is much more to us than extremely left or extremely right.

  13. clairecelsi says:

    Linh: I ran across this article today and thought you might appreciate another perspective. Best, Claire http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/07/30/opinion-why-im-celebrating-chick-fil-gay-appreciation-day/

  14. jakewobegon says:

    “And it makes me extremely upset that there are going to be people out there that will automatically assume that we’re all homophobic people, when in fact, I work fantastic people, and while some may have their beliefs that are different than mine, I still respect them.”

    Finally! You’ve made your stance clear regarding homosexual marriage, but you also make it clear that people who do not agree with you are not automatically horrible, nasty, mean-spirited people!

    It is refreshing to hear a voice of reason in the din of hyperbole & rhetoric. I worked for a job where I could not STAND my CEO. There is a significant difference between the company & products it produces and the corporate execs. Chances are if you work for a company or consume their products, you can follow a trail that leads to some nastiness. Just Google “The Illusion of Choice” to see.

    If people would vilify you for working at Chick-Fil-A, I hope those same people do not purchase any gasoline considering the OPEC nations actually execute homosexuals.

    I actually respect Chick-Fil-A because they do have their beliefs, but they do not force those beliefs on their employees. They do not fire people who don’t vote with the company line, and you are able to work their without pressure from your employer because you are an active advocate for gay marriage. That is actually not a typical work environment.

    Dan Cathy has a right to voice his belief. You have a right to be vocal in your belief as well. That is the beauty of the country in which we live.

  15. jakewobegon says:

    *there
    (I haven’t had my coffee yet.)

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