Despite Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's refusal to reconsider his religious-based opposition to marriage equality, there's at least one franchise of his fast-food chain that's committed to supporting LGBT patrons.
The Chick-fil-A franchise on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood hosted a daylong fundraiser Saturday, donating 20 percent of the day's proceeds to LGBT student group Campus Pride, reports Frontiers L.A. news editor Karen Ocamb.
The Hollywood store's owner, Jeremiah Cillpam, reached out to Campus Pride's executive director, Shane Windmeyer, seeking ways to build bridges and trust between LGBT people and Cillpam's franchise. Last year the Hollywood store served as a sponsor for the pro-LGBT faith-based film festival Level Ground, notes Obamb. Hollywood Chick-fil-A manager Josiah Brown confirmed to Ocamb that his store employs LGBT workers and that there have been "no problems" with those employees.
The Saturday event was scheduled to coincide with Chick-fil-A's Spirit Night and benefit a monthlong campaign by Campus Pride that seeks to raise funds for a $10,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. From 5 to 9 p.m., Campus Pride and the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation hosted tables with pamphlets and antibullying resources directly outside the Hollywood location.
Windmeyer told Ocamb that Saturday's event was the first in which Campus Pride had worked directly with Chick-fil-A, though Windmeyer stressed that his organization "has not received any money from Chick-fil-A." It's currently unclear how much money the event raised, but it seems Windmeyer had larger goals on his mind.
"Campus Pride works with all allies," Windmeyer told Frontiers' Ocamb. "The Hollywood Chick-fil-A store came to us and wanted to do something positive that supports anti-bullying. We partnered with Stand Up Foundation, which is one of our ongoing partners. So this is a good thing. We have to move forward as a community and we have to be willing to do the work that’s necessary and sometimes that work means trying something that maybe not everyone sees as popular. But at the end of the day, this is what winning hearts and minds are all about."
It's an interesting statement from Windmeyer, whose organization once led the charge to boycott Chick-fil-A after Cathy's 2012 comments opposing same-sex marriage and, more important, the revelation that the company had donated millions to certified antigay hate groups, including the Family Research Council. Despite assurances from Cathy and other executives that the company's charitable arm, the Winshape Foundation, ended its support for radical antigay groups, the foundation does still support religious-based organizations that could discriminate based on sexual orientation.
As Ocamb reports, however, last year Windmeyer held a series of meetings with Cathy and built an unlikely friendship, where neither man entirely changed his position, but each "expanded his world without abandoning it."
"Dan and I, in our personal relationship — we stand firm and strong on issues such as antibullying, on issues such as homelessness," Windmeyer told Ocamb last weekend. "And so why not focus on these common ground issues? … Sometimes not everyone takes the same path or journey to create change. I totally respect those who disagree with me — but that doesn’t mean we all have to march in the same line on every issue."