By Ollie Gratzinger | Assistant Features Editor
It all started with a chicken sandwich.
Well, maybe not really, but that’s sure what it looks like to the thousands of critics and commentators who’ve bought into the recent uproar surrounding the Chick-fil-A coming to Duquesne. It exploded into a mess of divisive commentary when members of Lambda, Duquesne’s gay-straight alliance, voiced their concerns regarding the installment of the restaurant because of its corporate ties to organizations that have a history of supporting anti-LGBT rhetoric.
After gaining momentum from right-wing news outlets like Fox & Friends and Breitbart, and even earning a contemptuous tweet from Donald Trump Jr., the story released a few weeks back has gone national. But sadly, I don’t think I lot of people understood where those who stand in opposition to the restaurant were coming from.
It’s one of the issues that’s a lot like an iceberg: you see the top and it looks kind of silly, and you think that there’s no way it could possibly do damage to anything. Then you hit it and you sink, because you didn’t see the larger picture just beneath the surface.
With that being said, the whole Chick-fil-A fiasco is the tip of an iceberg that members outside of the LGBT community have been hitting for ages. Below the surface, it isn’t about safe spaces or the views of some big-wig CEO. It isn’t about the chicken sandwich or the shakes and fries, no matter how tasty they’re supposed to be. It’s about the hateful rhetoric and the divisive commentary that this dialogue has sparked, perpetuated and encouraged, both online and now on campus. It’s about feeling like you have to hide an important part of you or else your friends won’t be your friends anymore.
It’s about feeling like you can’t be yourself because someone, somewhere, decided they don’t believe in it.
This is something that most non-LGBT individuals haven’t experienced, at least not to the same degree. Being told that you don’t exist, that it isn’t natural to love who you love or feel how you feel, is the real issue that’s being overshadowed and buried alive by talk of restaurants, safe-spaces and snowflakes. And that’s the issue that needs to be addressed, especially on a campus like Duquesne’s.
For the most part, the comments I’ve heard in passing around the Bluff are as ignorant as they are unpleasant, ranging from the age-old, “We Christians don’t believe in same-sex marriage, and therefore the whole world should refrain from it,” to the more timely, “Millennial snowflakes are so pampered that they don’t have anything else to do with their lives but protest a fast-food joint.”
I’m not offended by chicken nuggets. In fact, I don’t even care if the restaurant opens or not; I don’t have to eat there if I don’t like what it’s all about. But I am offended by the responses this discourse has engendered. I am offended by the seemingly widespread notion that my rights are less right than yours, and I am offended by the university administration’s silence and passivity surrounding the comfort of its students, all in the name of something as abstract as faith.
Don’t get me wrong — I believe in faith, and I believe that faith can be beautiful, but here’s the catch-22: It can unite the divided or it can divide the united, depending on how one chooses to use it. In this case, it has largely been a proponent of division, with individuals who identify strongly with Duquesne’s Catholic Mission speaking out against and suppressing the LGBT voices that already struggle to be heard over the sounds of opposition. When faith is used as a tool of hate, it stops being beautiful and starts to become something toxic, contentious and, frankly, dangerous.
“We attend a Catholic university,” read one comment on website for The Duke. “Chick-fil-A is simply running its business in a Christian way.”
Are they, though?
I don’t know very much about the Bible, but I do know that Jesus spent a great deal of time around the prostitutes, the physically ill and the criminal offenders of his time. He talked about loving your fellow humans, and he stressed the importance of being kind and gentle and forgiving, even to your enemies.
The passage that supposedly condemns the act of same-sex relations can be found in Leviticus, right alongside others that many Christians rightfully chose to ignore. According to the Bible, you’ve booked yourself a one-way ticket to Hell if you’ve eaten pork (Leviticus 11:4), worn that cotton-polyester blend (Leviticus 19:19), gotten a haircut (Leviticus 19:27), shaved (Leviticus 19:27) or picked out a tattoo (Leviticus 19:28).
Why ignore these? Because they’re ridiculous. Because they’re old and outdated. Because the New Testament popped up and Jesus swooped down to die for mankind’s sins. With all that being well within the realm of Christian belief, why is Leviticus 18:22 still used as a way to justify hating people that are just the slightest bit different from you? What would Jesus say if he saw you write that comment mocking a bunch of twenty-somethings you don’t even know?
There is so, so much hate in this world. Why condemn love? Members of the LGBT community feel a unique and unprecedented tension every day, from the mass-murdering of gay men happening in Russia to the bathroom laws targeting transgender folks in America, to the silent opposition felt on campus.
Before you call out a college kid for being made uncomfortable by the thought of an organization that might be bigoted, ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the issue than you understand.