In the wake of the Chik-fil-A silliness, the word “hate” got thrown around a lot. Was it a hateful act to eat at CFA on August 1? Was it hateful for the mayors of Chicago and Boston to say that the chain is not welcome in their towns? And, of course, was it hateful for the CEO of that chain to make statements about his company’s stance on same sex marriage?
At HuffPo, David Duran is convinced that the way many Christians treat gays is, in fact, hate:
I use the word “hate” and get a lot of criticism for it, but, I only call it like I feel it. This isn’t just about same-sex marriage anymore. It’s about Christians not being Christians. Going out of your way to eat a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich in the name of the First Amendment is a false truth to everyone and to yourself. Do you realize how hurtful that was for us on the other side of the battle? Was eating a sandwich so important to you that you had to hurt your friends, your family members, just to prove a point? All that was accomplished that day was the creation of even more hostility between the LGBT community and the faith-based community.
But Duran is missing something. I’ve talked to some fellow Christians who ate at CFA on August 1, and here’s the thing: They don’t know any gay people. They don’t have gay friends, and they don’t have gay family members.
Two years ago, the ELCA fully welcomed openly and practicing GLBT persons into their church, voting to do so at their summer convention here in the Twin Cities. Prior to the vote, pro-GLBT groups did something wondrous and loving and relational: they purchased hundreds of meal tickets and had GLBT people sit at every table at every meal during the convention. They weren’t there to proselytize, they weren’t angry, and they had no axe to grind. They just broke bread and had conversation.
What they did was normalize themselves with the voting members of the ELCA, many of who didn’t know a gay person, at least not well. By destigmatizing themselves in conversation, their humanity shown through all of the politics and weird sexual awkwardness that shrouds the GLBT debate in our culture.
Of course, some people who ate at CFA on August 1 know gay people, but in general the church blew it on that day. And I think the church blew it because a lot of Christians have been able to dehumanize GLBT people; and they’ve been able to dehumanize gay people because they don’t know any gay people.
I don’t think that Chik-fil-A supporters hate gay people, I just don’t think they know gay people.
There’s a way to fix that. I bet you can figure it out.