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Chick-fil-A’s participation in sports is still a big ‘F-you’ to LGBTQ people

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Chick-fil-A gives millions of dollars each year to a group that espouses discrimination against gay athletes.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Washington v Alabama
The Peach Bowl is now sponsored by an organization that donates millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ causes.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Chick-fil-A makes incredibly tasty chicken sandwiches. No one can take that away from them. Their chicken sandwich, topped with their special Chick-fil-A sauce, is one of the best-tasting sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.

Yet every year I cringe when I see the Chick-fil-A brand name blasted across college football, the sponsor of the Peach Bowl. This year the bowl game takes place on Dec. 29 and features the Florida Gators and the Michigan Wolverines.

Why do I cringe?

Years after Chick-fil-A family man and CEO Dan Cathy tried to distance his company from the anti-gay positions he and the Chick-fil-A brand had taken, promising to make changes, Chick-fil-A has doubled down on the support of anti-LGBTQ causes, one of which takes direct aim at gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer athletes.

Because of that, events like the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and the company’s support of events like the Pittsburgh Marathon, represent a sports world that too often continues to put money over the well-being of a demographic whose suicide rate and rate of self-harm should be alarming to everyone.

Chick-fil-A cannot separate itself from its Foundation

The company Chick-fil-A tries to distance itself from the behavior of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, which is the entity through which donations to anti-LGBTQ causes are made. They claim the company just makes chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, while the foundation is completely separate and engages in other activities.

Sorry, that doesn’t fly. The two entities have the same name, the same logo, and are cut from the same cloth. In fact, the company Chick-fil-A is so religious that all franchises are banned from opening on Sunday, “the Lord’s day.”

To be sure, Chick-fil-A has recently made at least one positive step. By offering support for Covenant House, the organization will indirectly help LGBTQ youth. Hey, at least it’s something.

Yet here’s the fact that I just can’t seem to get past: Chick-fil-A gives millions of dollars to an organization that actively demeans LGBTQ people, invalidates our relationships and brings untold mental harm to gay, lesbian, bi and queer athletes.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes is anti-gay

Fellowship of Christian Athletes is an anti-gay organization. The group’s nine-point “statement of faith” makes it very clear that gay people are to remain celibate, they are not allowed to marry, and they are not welcome. From the organization’s Web site:

We believe God’s design for sexual intimacy is to be expressed only within the context of marriage. God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

Again, FCA tells gay people they are not worthy, their self-expression in sex is not OK, their relationships are not valid... and they should stay far away.

The organization feels so strongly that the very existence of gay, bi and queer people is wrong that they listed this as one of their top-nine beliefs of faith. Not up for debate. Written in stone. The group’s student-leader application also mandates that the applicant adhere to the group’s anti-gay perspectives on sex and marriage.

Chick-fil-A has donated millions and millions of dollars to this organization. The company and the foundation, including the CEO Cathy, support this marginalization of one of the most disenfranchised communities in all of sports.

Chick-fil-A recently deleted the page where it touted the organization’s $1.5 million support of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I can only believe it has done so to mask its support of this anti-gay organization. But don’t worry, the Wayback Machine has the page right here.

Chick-fil-A supports various anti-gay organizations

On top of Chick-fil-A’s multi-million-dollar support for a group that hates gay people, it has also given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a youth organization in Georgia that calls homosexuality “all kinds of evil.”

For three years I have taught a class at the Univ. of Florida. My husband earned multiple degrees from the Univ. of Michigan. We at Outsports have written about Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh’s love for his gay son. I want to watch this game above all other non-playoff college football games this holiday season.

But I won’t. Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship presence at this game precludes me from watching one second of this game. And that’s a shame. Sports should bring us together, not divide us.

Until Chick-fil-A abandons its financial support of anti-LGBTQ groups like Fellow of Christian Athletes, and instead state the Foundation’s support of equality, I simply will not watch that bowl game. It’s a shame that the Peach Bowl, and the powers in college football who have elevated the profile of the anti-LGBTQ bowl game, would subject an entire community to this prejudice.