Emory alumni still want Chick-fil-a kicked off campus.
National gay leader’s friendship with Dan Cathy not enough to end efforts
LGBT alumni and students as Atlanta’s Emory University won’t back down from their call to kick Chick-fil-A out of campus dining, despite a national gay activist’s revelation that he has formed a friendship with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy.
Shane Windmeyer, executive director of national group Campus Pride, drew headlines with his Jan. 28 column posted on Huffington Post, “Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A.”
Windmeyer wrote that “after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings,” including attending the Chick-fil-A bowl with Cathy on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, he now considers Cathy a friend.
The personal relationship, which began when Cathy called Windmeyer in August, is what prompted Campus Pride to suspend its “5 Simple Facts about Chick-fil-A” national college campaign last fall, Windmeyer explained.
After reviewing Chick-fil-A’s 2011 IRS Form 990 and 2012 financials, which have not been released publicly, Windmeyer said he also believes the organization no longer gives funds to “the most divisive anti-LGBT groups.”
But Windmeyer’s word is not enough to convince Emory’s LGBT alumni group, GALA, to withdraw their demand that the campus sever ties to the Atlanta-based chicken chain.
“We believe that the ‘Dan and Me’ article by Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride, does not change the funding issue. Winshape continues to fund anti-LGBT organizations, albeit, according to Mr. Windmeyer, less evil ones,” GALA’s steering committee wrote in a statement to GA Voice.
“Emory GALA continues to stand behind our previous statements and until Chick-fil-A and Winshape release a statement that they will no longer fund any anti-LGBT organizations, we will continue to push for and support the removal of Chick-fil-A from Emory University’s campus,” the group stated.
The executive committee of Emory Pride, a student LGBT group, agreed.
Emory Pride leaders said Windmeyer and Cathy were “very brave” to engage in dialogue, and they are “heartened” that the company did not give to the most egregiously anti-gay groups.
However, “Chick-Fil-A has already become a symbol of hate that causes active harm, and this symbolic meaning will not disappear be- cause of one man becoming friends with another,” the students said.
“We, as the Emory Pride Executive Committee, will not cease our campaign against Chick-Fil-A until all traces of homophobia are gone from it and all those who work for it and all those who patronize it.”
Emory won’t ask Chick-fil-A to leave
After controversy over Chick-fil-A heated up last summer, GALA sent a letter Aug. 23 to Emory President James Wagner raising concerns about the company’s millions in donations to groups that oppose LGBT rights.
In October, leaders from seven student LGBT groups sent a letter to Emory administrators decrying the ongoing presence of Chick-fil-A.
Emory’s Student Government Association also passed a resolution in early December urging Emory to reconsider Chick-fil-A as a campus vendor, and LGBT rights supporters have protested the campus restaurant, located in the Cox Hall food court.
The Emory University administration issued a statement Dec. 17 that Cathy’s stands don’t reflect Emory’s values on LGBT issues, but Emory also values “open expression” and would not force Chick-fil-A to leave.
Concerns and conversations
Emory’s Office of LGBT Life, which is part of the administration, supports the official statement of the university on Chick-fil-A, according to Michael Shutt, director of the office.
Asked his reaction to Windmeyer’s column, Shutt declined in the name of LGBT unity.
“Although there are many concerns that come up for me, it is critical that we do not spend our time tearing down leaders in this movement.
“If we have concerns, we should have conversations within our community, not in public,” he said. “Those who work against our liberation will stand by and watch while we fight each other and destroy our own movement.”
Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer posted this photo of him with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy (right) at the Chick-fil-A Bowl to illustrate their friendship. (Photo via Huffington Post; posted by Windmeyer on Twitter)