A few weeks ago, I traveled south to spend the weekend with some old friends. (This is where I should clarify that I mean ones I've had a long time, not old as in age. My friends would appreciate me doing so.)
Anyway, on our drive from the Atlanta airport to the lake house, we pulled off the interstate to grab a quick lunch. Our dining options upon exiting? Oh, you know, just a sketchy-looking gas station that sold wood-carved statues of black bears alongside an assortment of beef jerky, and Chick-fil-A. Now, because Dan Cathy, the CEO and president of the Atlanta-based chain, had recently admitted to donating $2 million to anti-gay organizations, I immediately felt a tinge of guilt at the thought of chowing down an eight-piece nugget (extra Polynesian sauce, please) and an order of waffle fries. But, here's where I'm going to be really honest with y'all: I did not feel guilty enough to stoop so low as to eat expired beef jerky. (Yes, that stuff does go bad.)
So, into Chick-fil-A I walked, placing my order and diving into my nuggets and fries. Although I'd be lying if I said my lunch didn't taste delicious (seriously, how do they get that chicken so juicy?), the tinge of guilt I felt earlier grew with every chew. Here are the two things I remember thinking as I ate...
One: Why would anyone spend $2, much less $2 million on an anti-[insert any person here]? This, I just don't get. With all the hate and heartache and sadness in our country (case in point: The day I ate my nuggets, 12 innocent people were hours away from being killed in a movie theater), what type of person would dole out seven figures to fight against love and equality for their fellow man? Blows my small mind. And not in a good way.
And two: Why-oh-why is Dan Cathy using the Bible to justify his actions? Now, I have to admit, as an active, church-going Christian this truly breaks my heart. Because I know, deep within my chicken-filled gut, that the God I pray to would not approve of the hate and prejudice surrounding this social issue. (Listen, before someone points out that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman, please know that I'm well aware of the verse. I'm also aware of the verse that says if my husband dies, I am to marry my brother-in-law and perform "wifely duties" with him. And, uh, yeah, that's not happening.)
Fast-forward a week: I'm back home in Chicago chatting with a different group of friends and we get on the subject of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, the absurdity of it all (seven-freakin'-figures, people!) and I admit the week prior I had eaten Chick-fil-A. Now, I gotta say, I know my friends love me but the look of disgust they gave was enough to make me lift my arms and give my pits a quick sniff-test. (All clear.) They were -- how do I put this? -- you-just-clubbed-a-baby-seal-horrified. And that guilt I felt seven days earlier came rushing back.
(Side note: Because I don't want you assuming otherwise, it's worth mentioning that my friends were not horrified because they are gay. They're not gay, actually. They were horrified because they're tolerant people.)
"Listen, I know I shouldn't have eaten it," I started. "But it's Chick-fil-A! I grew up on the stuff! Loving the Polynesian sauce is practically a southerner's right of passage!"
My friends just stared at me.
So I continued on, "Did I mention it's FRIED CHICKEN!?! Sometimes, fried chicken visits me in my dreams literally asking me to eat it!"
Realizing I'm not getting anywhere with them, I decide to simply apologize. "I'm sorry I ate the deliciousness that is Chick-fil-A."
Then, one friend finally spoke up, "Well, thank you for confessing. We forgive you."
We then all broke into laughter at the ridiculous banter we had just enjoyed. (And, yes, I know, we think we're way funnier than we are. That's why we're friends.) During our snickers and snorts, someone said, "Man, Chick-fil-A confessional is intense."
[Insert "ding" sound effect here to imply a lightbulb moment.]
And just like that, the idea for a website where people can confess their Chick-fil-A sins was born. From that moment, it took exactly seven days to write, design, develop and launch www.ChickFilAConfessional.com. There, you can admit to the world exactly what you ate at Chick-fil-A. The site then calculates approximately what you spent and asks you to donate the equivalent to either the Human Rights Campaign, the It Gets Better Project or GLAAD, three not-for-profit organizations dedicated to fighting for what's right: equality.
Reaction to the site has been mixed, of course. For the most part, response has been overwhelming positive. Though, we know we have made more than a few people uncomfortable and upset, too. (Friends and family members included.) But that's okay. (First Amendment rules!) In the end, we hope that ChickFilAConfessional.com serves as proof that equality has a support team too. That, together, we can always undo what has been done. And that it's okay if you slip and eat Chick-fil-A, so long as you right your lightly-breaded wrong. Because, let's face it, NO ONE -- straight or gay -- wants to eat the expired jerky.