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Gay 'Campus Pride' Leader Befriends Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, Says Funding of Anti-LGBT Groups Ceased

Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer writes about his months-long dialogue with Chick-fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy which led to an invitation to hang out with Cathy at the Chick-fil-A bowl, and the suspension of Campus Pride's boycott and protest of the chicken chain.

WindmeyerWindmeyer says Cathy called him out of the blue and began an extensive dialogue of trust-filled exchanges:

Chick-fil-A also provided access to internal documents related to the funding of anti-LGBT groups and asked questions about our concerns related to this funding. An internal document, titled "Who We Are," expressed Chick-fil-A's values, which included their commitment "to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect," including LGBT people. Dan and his family members had personally drafted, refined and approved the document.

Through all this, Dan and I shared respectful, enduring communication and built trust. His demeanor has always been one of kindness and openness. Even when I continued to directly question his public actions and the funding decisions, Dan embraced the opportunity to have dialogue and hear my perspective. He and I were committed to a better understanding of one another. Our mutual hope was to find common ground if possible, and to build respect no matter what. We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.

Windmeyer says Chick-fil-A has kept its promises to stop funding anti-LGBT groups and explains that's why they suspended their boycott back in September:

This past week Chick-fil-A shared with me the 2011 IRS Form 990, filed in November for the WinShape Foundation, along with 2012 financials. The IRS has not released the 990 to the public yet, but the financials affirm Chick-fil-A's values a year prior to the controversy this past July. The nearly $6 million in outside grant funding focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment and local communities. The funding reflects Chick-fil-A's promised commitment not to engage in "political or social debates," and the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed.

Even as Campus Pride and so many in the community protested Chick-fil-A and its funding of groups like Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International, the funding of these groups had already stopped. Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A could have noted this publicly earlier. Instead, they chose to be patient, to engage in private dialogue, to reach understanding,and to share proof with me when it was official. There was no "caving"; there were no "concessions." There was, in my view, conscience.

Read Windmeyer's full piece here.

What do you think? Should LGBT folks stop their protests against Chick-fil-A?

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    "As an ass kissing Aunt Tom, I hung out with Dan Cathy, but I did not take my husband, for the obvious reasons"

    Posted by: Bob | Jan 28, 2013 6:34:40 PM

  2. Growing up in Atlanta the Cathy family was very well known. My grandmother knew Jeannette Cathy socially and always has had nice things to say about the whole family.

    They are devout Christians and while they may believe homosexuality is a sin that doesn't make them bad or evil people. When I came out to my grandmother it took her almost a year to fully accept it and while she loves me I am sure she is still concerned for my soul.

    Everything is a learning curve and peoples acceptance is not necessary. Nice but not necessary.

    I really do wish we could get over having to brand all people that have a problem with homosexuality as evil. If they just think its a sin and are compassionate thats fine with me. I am in no way giving a pass to hate groups like WBC or the rest, but I think we have to stop whining about acceptance all the time.

    Maybe its shortsighted of me but I just don't see why we as a community seem so desperate for approval from the straight world in a cultural way.

    Posted by: Tyler | Jan 28, 2013 7:06:41 PM

  3. Interesting that only two folks so far even bother to appreciate the move forward on the part of CaF and its COO.

    is it perfect? of course not, but it is a start.

    Most of your comments are the fuel for the haters fires. You demand all and give nothing. that is pretty pathetic and makes you all less than adult.

    Posted by: mikenola | Jan 28, 2013 7:12:10 PM

  4. Tyler, your own experiences (alas) show the real problem. You blame the WBC? why? The WBC didn't convince anyone to vote against your rights and freedoms as a gay man.

    The real enemy, believe it or not, are those sweetly-smiling people that you want everyone else to give a free pass to.

    They're the ones who smile and act kind, and then convince millions of young LGBT people that not only are they worthless, but that they need to respect and accept bigotry against them.

    You have my deepest sympathies for your personal life experiences, but you need to wake up now. It's not about whining for acceptance, it's defiantly standing up to prejudice and bigotry.

    The groups, and individuals, you're giving a pass to are the reason that anti-gay prejudice is alive and well.

    Your focus is off: the problem is not that, uh, "gay people brand all anti-gay people as evil", but as you just explained those sweetly-smiling anti-gay Christians still think you're a hellbound sodomite who doesn't deserve equal rights.

    yes, for now you're making extremely shortsighted statements. but i have hope that over time you'll learn to get some real sense of perspective.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 28, 2013 7:25:01 PM

  5. or, Mikenola, we're speaking from experience and would encourage other people to not feast on scraps. when you do that, you only appear to be a groveling dog, not a human being of worth and dignity.

    great. they (claim to have) stopped publicly funding hate groups.

    now what are they going to do to rectify the harm they've already done?

    nothing? well. then that's barely impressive. surely folks, your standards for human decency aren't THAT low.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 28, 2013 7:27:50 PM

  6. I smell astroturf.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jan 28, 2013 7:49:17 PM

  7. Former dueling media whores, and the dueling media whore wanna-bees commenting on the dueling media whores...

    How funny.

    Posted by: Buckie | Jan 28, 2013 9:41:02 PM

  8. What bothers me the most in this whole discussion is LittleKiwi's quoting of RENT.

    So 1994. Painfully so.

    He could have made his point (and did, many times, quite eloquently) without resorting to Jonathan Larson's dated & flawed musical, obsessively venerated by teen girls of every generation (adoration comes after their horse-loving phase and simultaneously with the onset of their first menses).

    Posted by: ic_stud | Jan 28, 2013 10:42:52 PM

  9. Well said, Daniel. I agree with you:

    "I feel the need to bring some balance here. Regardless of why Cathy ceased donating to anti-LGBT hate groups, the bottom line is this: he did. So regardless of anyone's personal opinion of Windmeyer, it seems that his friendly approach worked in this case. And for that, I commend him. This doesn't mean that I will eat at Chick-fil-A again (I haven't decided), but I would like to take this moment to thank the chain for ending its support of anti-LGBT hate groups. To quote King, "the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Today was a small bend in that direction."

    Posted by: Joe in CT | Jan 28, 2013 10:53:30 PM

  10. To paraphrase Craig earlier, the CFA company may have stopped donating but what about Cathy himself? He still makes his $$ through the company, so if he does make anti gay donations & you eat at a CFA, your still contributing to anti gay groups. He may do what he likes but I'm not helping him.

    I recently found out a local food chain, Pizza Ranch, was founded by Christians who contribute to anti gay causes & donates to anti gay politicians, so I won't give my $ to them.

    Posted by: Bill S. | Jan 28, 2013 11:00:26 PM

  11. As I have stated before here on Towleroad, I hold in high esteem the opinion of LITTLEKIWI. In this instance, however, and until further fleshing out of what might be a turn of events, I must say that I am a bit disappointed with some of LITTLEKIWI's comments that seem like those actions of a recalcitrant puppy refusing to release the bone. In my personal experience, when a bully in junior or senior high stopped being a bully, we didn't demand that he pivot on a dime and become a hero. We were just glad that he in his personal life had changed and moved on. For some offenders of our sensibilities, that in itself can be a milestone of "our" progress. From where would we command the authority for another American to promote our sensibilities to "atone" for their past transgressions? Sounds awfully Roman Catholic to me as a survivor of that fantasyland realm of belief. I'd rather see that another American gives up their baseless support of baseless beliefs than insist that they atone for their past "sins." This is, after all, America governed by the US Constitution, which requires no such apology for wrong-headed ignorant "free speech" of the past. Dan Cathy's possible present and future silence is gift enough for me, if indeed Mr. Windmeyer's assertions are accurate. No pound of retributive flesh need be butchered from the sacrificial lamb for my satisfaction. If Mr. Cathy has once again resumed his political silence, then Allah Akbar! ... and LITTLEKIWI Akbar, too!

    Posted by: Thomas Cardellino | Jan 29, 2013 12:27:31 AM

  12. This is no different from Elton John performing at Rush Limbaugh's wedding. It may not improve CFA's image, but it will probably disprove CampusPride's image as "gullible".

    CFA will not stop their donations to anti-LGBT organizations. They will simply donate to less politically-charged organizations like Salvation Army. Has Dan Cathy lifted the ban on the GSA at Berry College that their Student Government Association approved? Has he decided to stop threatening the college with funding losses should they allow the GSA on campus?

    I think this is very sad and annoying that CampusPride is putting out deceptive information on this. Even the official statement at HRC reads that they have stopped funding the "most divisive" groups, not all groups.

    I think "some gays" even powerful ones are looking for excuses to eat their favorite hate food, and not feel bad.

    Posted by: Drew Murray | Jan 29, 2013 12:51:42 AM

  13. Whether you decide to continue to boycott Chick-Fil-A or not, watch those calories!

    Well, maybe we can compromise: we'll let bears eat there.

    Posted by: Bill | Jan 29, 2013 2:54:33 AM

  14. As a brown-skinned non-hetero male, I continue to be stunned by the groveling apathy and Stockholm Syndrome of some in the gay community.

    I cannot imagine cozying up to someone who hates my skin color, praising them for "incremental steps" towards thinking my race doesn't disqualify me for freedom, and slamming other minorities for taking a stronger tack.

    Similarly, I just don't understand why, in 2012, gays should be expected to play nicey-nicey who people who not only actively seek to deny us freedom and equality but also think we are subhuman and deserving of death. When you condemn someone to hell, you are wishing them death.

    When you wish someone less freedom, less equality, and even death for being born with a trait that does no harm to anyone else, you deserve nothing but contempt.

    Maybe it's because I came late to the gay game, and didn't grow up feeling inferior. Maybe it's a generation gay. But I, a 30 year-old law-abiding artist, citizen, educator and educated professional should bow and genuflect now that some raggedy old bigot is now "open" to to POSSIBILITY that I deserve equal rights? Bahahahahahahahaha.

    Posted by: Kelbro | Jan 29, 2013 4:35:20 AM

  15. So the Cathy's are a nice family, la-tee-dah, everyone so super-happy! B.S. I don't like people who smile in my face while stabbing me in the back. Sorry, I don't trust them. Violate my trust once, shame on you. Violate it twice, shame on me. Never, ever will I set foot in that abode of hate to eat their awful food. Never. Hate gives me terrible indigestion. If Mr. Cathy wants me to believe he suddenly realized how un-Christian he is, and he suddenly is now looking for forgiveness, let me see him make a few sizable donations to PRO-GAY groups. Just a few. Until then, no. I have far too many other choices than to eat an overpriced heart attack on a plate. The stupid fool should have realized this before igniting this firestorm, to which I am sure he is suffering financially. Good. Hit him where it his wallet.

    Posted by: millerbeach | Jan 29, 2013 5:11:32 AM

  16. There's no point in demanding change if you aren't prepared to be satisfied at some point. It's a different place for different people. I think I'd feel queasy with guilt if I ate there at the moment, so I'm not going to. But I may someday. We'll see.

    Posted by: Yeek | Jan 29, 2013 8:41:17 AM

  17. I have never bought anything, or even entered one of Chick-fil-A's stores. And my policy goes back to the very early years of the company's existence.

    Posted by: Jerry6 | Jan 29, 2013 10:56:08 PM

  18. Where are the more profound voices of our movement- HRC, GLAAD, GLSEN- on this issue? Certainly not in harmony with Windemeyer. Cathy's cronies saw campus locations of his chain at greatest risk and figured they'd find and exploit a wide-eyed dullard with some acclaim and influence over the opposing forces. Mission accomplished. In spades.

    Posted by: Nomoremrnicegay | Feb 1, 2013 4:39:10 AM

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