Several LGBT rights supporters and same-sex couples smooched outside the River North neighborhood Chick-fil-A Friday in protest of the company president’s recent comments in which he reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“We saw the scandal going on about the anti-gay marriage comments, and so we came out in support of the community,” said David Pavon, 33, of West Lawn, who posed mid-kiss for photographers with his partner of eight years, Samuel Machado.
Although the franchise owner of the city’s only Chick-fil-A location, 30 E. Chicago Ave., does not oppose LGBT rights, advocates and allies in the LGBT community continue to rally against the Atlanta-based fast-food chain to build awareness around the recent controversial statements and the company’s millions of dollars in donations to ant-gay groups.
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” said Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A in the Baptist Press July 16. He said he was “guilty as charged” for supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
About 50 people participated in the demonstration around 7 p.m., as pedestrians passed by — some stopping to watch — on the crowded sidewalk.
Heidi Truax and partner Jana Tyler stopped by the kiss-in as part of their 1-year anniversary celebrations.
“We have a right to kiss wherever we feel like it,” Truax said, adding that it’s interesting that the firestorm has come down on Chick-fil-A, when there are so many other anti-queer corporations out there. The couple shared several kisses near the entrance of the restaurant, garnering the support of those passing by.
“But I’m totally OK with it being Chick-fil-A,” Truax said.
In a smilar fashion, Rachna Sheth, of Niles and Amanda Andrews of the Lakeview neighborhood, came to the event for their second date.
“It’s hard enough for gay people,” said Tyler before kissing in front of the cameras. “We’re already not welcome in a lot of places. All of this is just unnecessary.”
Richard Streetman, a longtime Boystown community personality, however, took a more serious tone about the message of the protest.
“I think what [Chick-fil-A] is doing is hate,” Streetman said. “They have the right to do so, God bless them, but I want to make it clear to our allies about all of the contributions from the corporation to anti-gay groups.”
Streetman, too, stopped to kiss in front of the restaurant, but spent more time explaining the reasoning behind the ongoing protests against the company to reporters and other participants.
Despite the positive tone of the event, the protesters were not met without opposition. One man sat on the railing of a planter and read aloud from a Bible, which at times, led to heated arguments with LGBT supporters.
Another participant, Josh Winters, 28 of the Edgewater neighborhood, questioned the both the anti-gay sentiment from the company and the method used by Christians to support it, flocking in droves to its restaurants for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” Aug. 1.
“I think it just shows how lazy Christian Republicans are,” Winters said. “To just get chicken sandwiches… They should be going out to homeless shelters and contribute their time to those causes.”
Another protest is planned to take place outside the same location Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 4:30 p.m.