Political Chicken: What Queer Chefs Say About Chick-fil-A

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com October 16 2012 4:00 AM ET

While we had some of the country's most prominent gay and lesbian chefs on the line, we picked their brains about the latest in food-related politics: The melee surrounding Chick-fil-A's $5 million donations to antigay hate groups, and its COO Dan Cathy's stated opposition to marriage equality and claim that he runs the family business on "biblical principles." When the edible becomes political, where do these queer chefs stand? Read on to find out. 

Art Smith:

"I'm going to build my own version [of fried chicken] that's going to be kinder — organic, small farms, etc. You see how they give millions of dollars to groups who harass the LGBT community? I'm going to give that and more... to promote equality."

Yigit Pura:

"One part of me says, 'kudos to you.' At least they didn't back down about the fact that they're ignorant. And when people confronted them about it, they said yeah, we really are that bigoted and we really don't like gay people and we don't want to have anything to do with them. I sort of personally appreciate people or companies or policies who are that blatantly clear in their personal ethics. Because then that really sets a tone of like, 'we don't want to have anything to do with you.' And then I think it's up to our community, and people who are behind our community to say, 'You know what? We don't want to support this business.'

"[Chik-fil-A's antigay donations] make my stomach turn, and I think it's absolutely horrendous and I think it's really stupid business. But if that's their choice, that's their choice.”

Susan Feniger:

"I absolutely mix politics and business. I take it as my responsibility. I think it's absolutely critical. Every HR person tells you not to do that as a business owner, but I can't help myself. I'm going to give my opinion about who I am, and I'm going to talk about it whenever I can, because I think it's important to make strong statements. I want the 400 kids that work for us to understand a bit more. They can make their own choice, but I'm going to do what I can to educate them about what I think is the right thing."

Elizabeth Falkner:

"That's ridiculous. I went to a Chick-fil-A for the first time this summer — I was driving across the country in Amarillo, Texas. And I think the people in there recognized me because when my mom and I got around to the drive-thru, which I never even do, and they're like 'Oh, the food's on us.' And I was like, 'What? Why would they do that?' And my mom was like, 'well, they must know who you are.' And I was like, 'why would they give away their Chick-fil-A?' I was like, 'well, thanks!'

"But that's a bummer. Food is usually a more unifying force. I think it's stupid when it gets too aligned with anything hateful. That's just really unfortunate."

Candace Walsh:

"I actually made this really snarky comment on Facebook, about people have to be eating in an attempt to undermine gay rights, but at least it’s unhealthy and they'll get sick.... I was posting about Chick-fil-A on Facebook and this person got offended, looked me up, found out who my boss was, and sent it to him. My boss was like, 'This is your personal life, I don’t want to know about it,' in a good way. But wow, this Chick-fil-A thing could’ve gotten me fired, if I had a different boss. And that is violent. I feel skittish even talking about it, but I feel like it’s important talking about it, because it made me self-conscious in a way that made me kind of sad.... We live in interesting times. It can be a political act to eat from the farmers’ market. It can be a political act to boycott Chick-fil-A. I hope that there are more opportunities to make positive food choices, not just personally but societally."