Dear Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno,
Emily Dickinson said, "Hope is the thing with feathers." She never dealt with Chick-fil-A.
You got it right when you called their latest statement to Mike Huckabee "disturbing." After all, the statement denied any "concessions" it had made to you in negotiations to end its harmful giving practices so that you'd support a new restaurant in your ward.
Just last week, you brought us hopeful news. You announced that Chick-fil-A executives had given you a letter stating that "the company's non-profit arm ... will not support organizations with political agendas," adding, "We were told that these organizations included groups that do political work against the rights of gay and lesbian people." You even said that you had seen documents confirming that "the company in 2012 has not given money and will not give money to those groups."
But how quickly hope has faded! Chick-fil-A's public statement late last week called its giving "mischaracterized" and your claims "incorrect," in a denial that you say "muddied the progress we had made" and "at worst, contradicted ... the promises Chick-fil-A made to me."
Oh, I see. This is starting to look familiar. In fact, I think a lot of us gay guys can tell you exactly how this goes:
Some fella comes along. He's all-American, straightforward, powerful, rich. He pretends he's not into you, but a hint in his eyes says it: You have something he really, really wants. Typical closet case. So you get together on the down low. It's awkward at first, even icy, but he soon begins to change. You get closer. He meets your friends. He makes promises in the dark, starts writing you little notes to read. Then, one special night, he even opens up his ledgers. You can't wait to tell your friends how you wooed this man, how he finally surrendered, how he promised to stand up to his friends and risk his reputation just to get what only you can give him, so you get on the phone, and pretty soon the news is everywhere.
But he isn't ready to go public. The nighttime promises he made can't bear the harsh light of day, and when the moment of truth comes, he proves chickenhearted. Worse still, his failure to stand with you isn't proof enough to satisfy his friends, who'd heard rumors, you see, and who hate it when birds of their feather do any forbidden flocking. Desperate to know that you hadn't become bedfellows, they cluck and crow their disapproval, practically threatening to peck his eyes out, so he issues a public denial, calling your claims "incorrect." Now you're hurt, confused, and frustrated, but deep down, do his actions really surprise you? Sure, he saw you in private, but he never took you out anywhere. Sure, he met your friends, but you never met his. Sure, he wrote you notes, but he never signed his name. Did you really think he had it in him stick his neck out, or change his (wide) stance?
This is what happens when you date into the closet. No matter what you do, he's going to handle his coming out in his own time, if he ever comes out at all. The only question is: How will you handle him? Will you give him what he wants, no matter how he treats you in public? Will you keep trying to win him over, hoping against hope that you may have a future together? Or will you just wait and wait and wait, no matter how long it takes him to decide?
Frankly, I was never sure about your involvement with him in the first place, but take it from those of us who've been there: Now that he's pulled this stunt and shown you his true nature, your self-respect is at stake. So I'm telling you what I'd tell anyone else: If you value your dignity, if you have any pride at all, do not yield, do not wait, and do not let him in unless he can publicly shout from the rooftops all the things that he privately whispered in your ear.
Follow Wayne Self on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ewayneself