The Annise Parker Non-Factor: Why Did the Chick-fil-A "Kiss-In" Fail?

Categories: Whatever

parker3.jpg
Why didn't Mayor Annise Parker do more to support the kiss-in?
It seemed like the perfect mixture for a successful display of civil disobedience: there was apparent bigotry against a robust community by a very conspicuous company. But still, Friday evening's kiss-in to protest Chick-fil-A and its president, Dan Cathy, who has condemned gay marriage as anti-God, was a failure. At the event we covered, only eight people showed up. At another location, it was 12 smoochers.

What happened? Why did the "kiss-in" fail? Across the nation -- and especially in Houston -- the event, a response to last Wednesday's "Chick-fil-A support day" which drew hundreds of people decrying the evils of gay marriage, was, quite frankly, underwhelming. This has been confusing. In a city with such a vibrant gay culture, and an openly gay mayor; we had thought the response would have been buoyant. But it wasn't.

The most prominent reaction was to the article we wrote, but even that says something about the shallowness of the protest. There's a reason why Occupy Wall Street had such resonance. Or the Montgomery Bus Boycott worked. Because real people occupying real space carries substantially more effect than "liking" something on Facebook or following someone on Twitter. Roughly 15,000 people told organizers on Facebook that they'd appear at the kiss-in, but then didn't. Or they issued a liking and left it at that. That's called lazy activism.

Or was it that the protest was just unorganized and diffuse? "It said go to your nearest Chick-fil-A and kiss," said Sally Huffer of the Montrose Counseling Center. "When something is that loosely organized, (there's concern) that if they show up at a random time, would anyone even notice?"

And they didn't. No one seemed to notice -- in Chicago, in Los Angeles, or in Houston. People continued to eat their meals, and they weren't even aware they were in the midst of a political statement. The most essential aspect of a successful collective action is disruption. That's why the sit-in in Greensboro worked so well. People took heed. As for the kiss-in? It seems as though the only people who bothered to show up were reporters.

Mayor Annise Parker, apparently tentative to wade into an issue that -- whether she likes it or not -- directly relates to her, was at her most tepid. While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel or Boston Mayor Thomas Menino pummeled Chick-fil-A, she held back. Maybe it was a wise political move. After all, she has been a defender of political speech, which Cathy was indeed exercising. But did she miss an opportunity to exercise her own?


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24 comments
roycedanielle
roycedanielle

If this were a gay establishment that were being targeted or any minority group there would be total outrage by that community.  If we were to say to apple or ben and jerrys that because of their more liberal personal views that they should be financially penalized their would be total outrage.  This is reversed profiling and descrimination the very thing we are trying to end as a community as a whole.  The beauty of this country is that we have the right to like or dislike someones opinion but do no harm.  Chick Fil-A has supplied countless jobs and offered franchise opportunities in a struggling economy.  He hasnt descriminated against anyone, when asked a pointed question he answered his opinion.  He has right to that.  The issue is more a Freedom of Speach issue with the right to own a lawful business.   America Lets get past sending folks to the back of the bus!

roycedanielle
roycedanielle

I would never go and tell the owner of a gay bar, any business that they did not have the right to their opinion and penalize them.  Chick Fil-A has employed countless and of people and allowed new people to own franchises and has been sucdessful.  Our economy is bad and we should n't bash the business owners who are the back bone of our economy. 

marty1king
marty1king

I predict that this whole gay pride agenda will not be a big deal 20 years from now.  Surely there will still be gay people but the trendy fashion statement that it is now will long since have faded by then, and many of the people who say they are gay now will have determined that they were not as gay as they thought, and that the opposite gender has some pretty good qualities that they had not previously noticed. 

marty1king
marty1king

Mayor Parker apparently is smarter than Rahm Emanual or the Bostonm mayor.  She seems to know that her job as mayor is to be a mayor of all of the people, not just the gay ones.  She also seems to understand what the mayors of Chicago and Boston don't:  the United States Constitution.

jb411
jb411

It failed because there are far fewer homosexuals than the GLBT politicians claim and the vast majority of Americans are politically moderate heterosexuals.  California is arguably the gayist state in the USA and Prop 8 (anti gay marriage) passed in 2008 by the same margin the Obama won with.  My guess is that there are 50 - 100 Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin for every homosexual in America.  At the least there are 100 times as many Christians in Church on Easter in Houston than show up for the Gay Pride event.

Jason
Jason

Many leaders in the GLBT community were actively discouraging people from participating in the kiss-in because we did not want it to become a disruptive distraction that takes away from the real issues at hand, like CFA's support of organizations that want to take away hospital visitation rights and pass legislation in other countries that would allow their governments to execute gay people.

paval
paval topcommenter

As far as i understand Boston nor Chicago have any Chick-fil-A's that employ citizens of these cities, Houston does. As a mayor Mrs. Parker is a mayor for all citizens, religious and not, gay and not, republicans, democrats, businesses and citizens, etc. It is easier for mayors in boston and Chicago to say they do not want CFA because they have none. Not so easy for Mrs. Parker.

But also as a defender of free speech it is not wise to attack those that exercise it to profess a point of view you do not share.

Even though I am pro gay marriage, as I am for all other forms of marriage, mainly for legal reasons such as inheritance, health insurance, alimony, etc., I recognize that people living under certain long standing dogmas may have an issue with it and it is their own right to have this issue with it.

What a boring world would it be if we would all agree on everything and everyone would have the same opinion. Actually more dangerous than boring, as there have been examples of totalitarian systems were the same thought was tried to be forced upon the population. Now the two sides of the aisle seem to try to force their point of view of the issue at hand upon the rest.

chel.ethomas
chel.ethomas

Annise Parker is a smart woman, and I support her decision not to participate in the Kiss-In. Everyone's deriding bigotry's choice to support the, ahem, independently owned and franchised and not-always-bigoted chains. I don't think following suit with a kiss-in here is Houston has the same effect as it would in other large cities. There's a more subtle rebellion that arises in Houston, which is why we have one of the country's largest gay communities, which people seem to forget, and an openly gay mayor. 

 

I say, let the bigots hunker down on some fried chicken to make an asinine, ridiculous, utterly shameful point, high-five one another for their discrimination, and make national fools of themselves, while Annise Parker continues to revolutionize this already great city into a national powerhouse. She's already proved homophobia is nonsense, so why stoop down to a lower level?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Sorry Terrence, but Houston was actually a trendsetter. The Queer Makeout Flashmob occurred at the Chick Fil A on Sawyer on July 13th, before the national event was organized.

Jww Weghorst
Jww Weghorst

Because nobody wants to see that, and most gays I know don't care, since they are not the dog collar chaps wearing parade types. Get it, got it, good.

cepage
cepage

Really? You're suggesting that Annise Parker should have joined Emanuel and Menino in threatening to block or shut down franchises because she disagreed with the owner's politics?

 

How well do you think that would have worked out 20 years ago, when Parker was operating a lesbian-friendly bookstore, and Houston was a whole lot more homophobic than it is now?

 

Maybe she realizes from her own personal experience that city government shouldn't be waging war on private businesses in order to make a political point?

 

As for kiss-ins, those were pretty edgy in the early '90s, but now they seem pretty awkward and lame. We get same-sex couples kissing on prime-time sitcoms nowadays, and those couples usually do it better than protesters.

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

... or maybe she is wise enough to choose her battles, and didn't want to get involved in a particularly stupid episode in the culture wars, because she knew by weighing in, it would cheaper her voice on more important issues down the road.

 

Let's face it, fundies going to Chick-fil-A to demostrate how much they hate gay people is just a silly, passing fad - and if recent history has taught us anything, it's this: GOD HATES FADS.

Anse
Anse

There is nothing in the Constitution that forbids a city from regulating commerce within its limits. This is why you won't find a Wal-Mart in Seattle(in the suburbs, but not in the city proper).

Anse
Anse

Southern Baptists tried to launch a boycott against Disney when that company extended benefits to the partners of gay employees. That worked really well, didn't it?

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

 @jb411 100X??? Wow.

That would be 25 - 30 million people in church in Houston on Easter. Where do they all park?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

 @paval People can have whatever opinions they want, but there comes a problem when they push to deny people basic human rights. Everyone should have the right to marry. If bigots want to continue to not approve of homosexuality, well, that's their right, but those beliefs shouldn't carry forward to denying people rights. I don't approve of unauthorized adultery, but I wouldn't deny marriage rights to adulterers.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @cepage I'm just curious as to which bookstores aren't inherently lesbian friendly. Or does that mean the bookstore carried specifically LGBT literature?

marty1king
marty1king

 @Anse

 But it is not done just because the mayor decides he doesn't like them.  CFA has broken no laws of any municipality or any other jurisdiction.  Mayors do not have that much authority.

marty1king
marty1king

 @Kylejack

 No one has ever asked me for permission to be homosexual.  Now I find it rather strange that they suddenly want my blessing, in the form of a redefinition of the word, "marriage", on living together in a homosexual relationship, even when my doing so would violate my religious beliefs.  I simply do not believe that homosexuality is acceptable to God, and I am required by my faith to stand firm on that belief. 

Go ahead and live that way if you want, just don't expect me to honor it with my blessings.

marty1king
marty1king

 @Kylejack

 No one is trying to deny anyone the right to marry.  You just have to marry someone of the opposite gender.  That's because that is what marriage means.  And everyone has that same right.

cepage
cepage

 @kshilcutt I'm taking it you did not live in Houston at the time. Inklings was the primary (possibly only) bookstore that specialized in gay / feminist literature.

marty1king
marty1king

 @Kylejack

 Well I don't know what the legal rationale for that was and I doubt we will find out.  There seems to have been some questions as to Nikki's gender at the time of the wedding.  Which is precisely my point.  Guys can't marry guys, even if they look like women.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

 @marty1king That's not actually even correct. Nikki Araguz's wedding was invalidated and she wasn't able to receive the widow benefits from her husband dying.

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