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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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Old School Meets New School

As time and technology tinker on, they either leaves us in the dust or we run alongside them, trying to improve ourselves and evolve our standards.

We’ve seen this in the realm of journalism. Major newspapers are enforcing paywalls, newspapers are cutting days from their publishing week and readers have such a vast variety of choices when choosing the news that we struggle to keep up.

Some see this evolution into the age of technology as a stab to newspapers. Other’s see this as a wake-up call, urging journalists to revolutionize and appeal more to readers.

Whatever you may choose, right now the most dangerous thing to do is remain stagnant.

Ignoring change and continuing on like it’s 1980 is doing nobody any good. It’s not giving readers the full experience that can come from quality journalism and creative technology.

Likewise, ignoring the past and assuming knowledge of HTML and embedding videos are all you need for journalism leave you without the solid background of good writing and high journalism ethic.

But what is the next thing that is going to make the reader’s head turn?

Is it interesting interactive features or more “soft news” type articles like celebrity gossip or house cleaning advice?

And when is that you care about viewership too much and lose the integrity and hard news that once appealed to readers?

Whenever I tell people that I’m interested in journalism, some of the most common responses are, “Oh, you wanna be on television? Kind of like Good Morning America?” or “The news is so sad/boring.”

It’s obvious that reader’s (especially younger one’s) have a distinct opinion of the news. It’s either that thing that pops up on your local channel at five o’ clock, or it’s a newspaper story that involves tragedy and war.

What is the next big thing we can do that attracts readers of all ages that doesn’t bore them but also retains integrity?

Putting more emphasis into online journalism is definitely essential. Sure, hard copy newspapers are nice to have and advertisements are more expensive, but more and more people are reading or watching the news on their cellphones and tablets. I admit that I only pick up a hard copy when I get a newspaper for free when I buy a tank of gas. Otherwise, it’s all read on my iPad or online.

I’ve seen many atrocious small local newspaper websites that don’t contain any special features or interactive part to their online site. Also, the interface is clunky and hard to look at.

There are other sites however that overdo it with videos that automatically play, obnoxious backgrounds and pop-up advertisements that show up with each page click.

Keeping a balance between the old and new is essential, just like with any job. It’s no secret, and it’s advice we hear everyday.

Yet why is hard news journalism so slow to change?

Don’t stand still. Think of what the reader likes right now, and be set and ready for what they’re going to want in the future. Use creativity and think of the next big thing– don’t wait for technology to blow your newspaper out of the dust.

It all seems like obvious statements, but why are we in the current state of newspaper purgatory right now?  We’re neither alive nor dead, neither needed nor unwanted.

We need to make ourselves alive and wanted. Think of what your readers want, and then one up that.

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Summer Time Goals

As a student, summer is the time of year that I use to try and give myself some, “methodical self-evaluation,” or in less pretentious terms, “Hey, let’s figure out what we should do this summer so you don’t eat and sleep all day.” Summer is the season to look back on what has been done and either try to build upon that or let the knowledge dry up like a wrinkled whale on the beach.

For myself, I hope I don’t end up like a beached mammal this summer.

Unfortunately, unless I actually write something down and truly flesh out an idea, the millions of thoughts swarming in my heard drastically turn into a conglomerate of mushy forgotten aspirations.

And even then, I cannot count the exasperating amount of goals that have been thrown aside for things that I deem more important at the time; such as taking a leisurely nap or watching terrible shows on the television.

I mean, what’s more satisfying than making a dent on a comfy couch and stuffing yourself with stale Cheeto’s?

But this summer, my goal is to remain adequately productive while also enjoying the three months of free time that I am desperately clinging on to.

And so with that, I present my summer plans and invite you to also share yours. After all,  one is more likely to complete a goal if they have shared it with another. Or they can both procrastinate and sit in their own glory of not completing something (which can sometimes be satisfying all by itself.)

Summer Goals:

1. Blog more often and enjoy it

I enjoy writing. I really do, as hopefully made obvious by the theme of this blog, the title, etc etc. However, during the school year, I found myself remaining stagnant and everytime I came up with an idea, it would only turn into a paragraph and then I would quickly give up.

I feel like people often have this when it comes to writing. Whether it be essay or fictional story, people are quick to give up on writing. This may derive either from being forced to write in our jobs and at school, and so when we actually have free time, writing is the last thing in our mind mind. It also stems from our lack of endurance and concentration. Writing is one of the most difficult things to do; requiring complete concentration and large amounts of time.

That doesn’t sound appealing at first, but stemming off from my existing love of the written word, hopefully I’ll practice and become a consistent blogger.

2. Write Better

Writing a bunch of junk doesn’t really hold much in comparison to writing a high quality piece. However, improving is just so difficult. I’ll read a piece someone else has written and swoon over it, making it a goal to have my writing reach the same level of capability.

But like everything else, it takes practice and persistence to achieve quality in a skill. I wish that it was as simple as reading a book or spending a rigorous few weeks following step-by-step instructions, but it is so much more than that. While in college, it may have been difficult to find time for this, so hopefully the summer will bring a breath of fresh air into my work.

3. Be kinder to myself

As cliche as it sounds, we are our own worst critic. Sometimes I question how this happened to us. Is it because of our self-centered society that we think everyone is analyzing our every move? Or is it because we end up with such low self-esteem that it’s difficult to properly recognize our accomplishments?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been beating myself up over decisions I’ve made such as: not going to journalism school, not applying for a writing job, not having any internships under my belt… literally the list could go on and on. And when I whine and complain about my problems, it’s easy for my friends to point out my accomplishments but still impossible for me to recognize them. Sometimes, it gets to the point where I question everything I do and I start wondering, why bother?

Like this blog post for example. I thought of the idea, then told myself it was dumb, then wrote a paragraph and then quit because I felt stupid writing this.

Beating yourself up does not progress you as a person; it makes you give up. Embracing your flaws and feeling proud of your accomplishments builds yourself up to the point where you feel like you deserve to better yourself.

Think of a person that you know who always has negative things to say about themselves. Where are they in their life? Now think of a person you know who is proud of themselves. Where are they in comparison to the other person?

Now I just need to take my own advice.

4. Get physically fit

I hate exercising. I hate going outside and running. I hate doing sit-ups. I hate everything about physical fitness.

However, I can’t deny the nice feeling that I get after working out in the gym for an hour. Nor can I deny that a large percentage of the population is overweight and that this is costing our country a lot of money.

A lot of the things we hate doing better ourselves in the end. Laundry, studying, exercising; the list goes on and on. It’s these things that we need however, the stuff that sucks but is good for us. It weeds out the strong from the weak, those with endurance and persistence and those without.

When it comes to cleaning however… That’s a whole different story.

5. Try out food style photography

Along with doing things we hate that are good for ourselves, sometimes we need a dose of something that we love but does not have much beneficial value (or at least in the eye of the beholder.)

I grew up in a restaurant and I’m an avid foodie. I will literally eat about anything that you put in front of me, no matter the style or type. In The New York Times, the dining section is one of my favorites for a prime reason alone:

The pictures of food.

If someone tries to tell me that the pictures of food in The Times are not gorgeous, I will turn a deaf ear and continue to stare at the exquisiteness of the pictures.

The lighting, the colors, the contrasts of sharp and soft and the beautiful dining equipment; it all makes my heart pitter-patter.

And so I want to try out food style photography (as seen by my picture of my exquisite breakfast of eggs at the top.) I won’t get anything out of it other than enjoyment… unless NY Times wants me to be their newest food style photographer, to which I will say, I am more than willing to move.

But its just the mere pleasure of trying something new that I’ll enjoy that makes it a good summer goal. After everything is said and done, isn’t enjoying yourself and bettering yourself really what summer break is all about?

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