While Wednesday’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day inspired an apparently record-setting number of people to display their commitment to bigotry by waiting in line for fast-food sandwiches, the demonstration designed to protest it — Friday’s National Same Sex Kiss Day — turned out to be less of a draw.
Organizers expected a couple hundred protesters to converge on New York’s single (and closed for the summer) Chick-fil-A outpost, located in NYU’s Weinstein dining hall, at 8 p.m. Unfortunately, we’re having trouble finding reports on the event besides that of the New York Post’s Andrea Peyser (frequently to be taken with a grain of salt), who wrote that only about 20 people showed up for the demonstration and that “just three pairs of guys kissed on the street.” We expect more Chick-fil-A backlash there come fall, when the University’s generally calorie-conscious and gay-friendly students get back into town. (An NYU spokesman has already promised to “reexamine” the chain’s presence on campus.)
Outside of New York, the National Same Sex Kiss Day founder hoped to see at least 15,000 people demonstrating at the restaurant’s 1,600 locations. Again, the numbers seem to have fallen short: In Decatur, Georgia, about two dozen demonstrators gathered outside a Chick-fil-A bearing McDonald’s bags, rainbow flags, and signs reading, “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not eating,” and “Eat More Equality.” While they declined the free lemonade offered to them by Chick-fil-A employees, they made it clear to reporters that they were there to oppose management, not the restaurant’s workers.
Members of Fairview Community Church showed up at a Costa Mesa, California, Chick-fil-A to “stand on behalf of love and inclusion and gay couples.” Added Reverend Sarah Halverson, “Love is love, and God has given us love to be shared.” Elsewhere in the state, someone scrawled “Tastes Like Hate” on the wall of a Torrance outpost. The protest seemed to fare slightly better online, with individual couples sending in photos of themselves kissing to the group’s Facebook page and posting them to Twitter.
So, what’s with the low turnout? Many in the gay community seem to feel that the form of this particular demonstration will be less-than-effective when it comes to fostering communication: “It plays right into the fears of the right wing and what they’ve always thought: We just want to have sex whenever we can!” said Philadelphia Gay News publish Mark Segal. Gay rights activist Pam Spaulding concurred, calling the kiss-in a “stunt for shock value.” Of course, it’s possible that Americans — sexual orientation aside — are simply more moved by the promise of a crispy chicken patty than they are the opportunity for a little PDA.