In 2021, ‘compromise’ seems to be a controversial word. Our politicians in Washington seem incapable of acting on anything, even legislation supported by a majority of Americans. Celebrities are expected, impossibly, to give the public unlimited access to their lives while maintaining perfect mental health. And millions of Americans won’t wear a mask even for the sake of public safety.
What’s more, social media has given us two primary things: the ability to surround ourselves only with people we agree with, and the ability to lash out at those we don’t from the relative safety of our electronic devices.
Another thing social media — and the media in general — has given us is a distorted view of reality. A very good journalist can present a relatively well-rounded story with multiple angles, but even the best ones cannot show 100% of an event, or a group, or a cultural moment. That’s why it’s important to learn the news from multiple sources.
This year, many grocery chains began selling Chick-fil-A sauces in their stores, including Giant, which has stores in the Philadelphia area. It’s safe to say that most people who follow LGBTQ news know that Chick-fil-A has donated to anti-LGBTQ efforts for a long time. Most recently, their CEO has been in the news for donating money to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, which has been tied to efforts seeking to block the Equality Act.
It might seem easy, then, to call out Giant for selling products from a company that has such a notable anti-LGBTQ record.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Giant is also one of the businesses signed on to the Pennsylvania Values initiative, a wide-sweeping effort to garner corporate support to pass the PA Fairness Act, which would provide LGBTQ Pennsylvanians with protections against discrimination in employment, housing and public accomodation. (Reminder: PA is the only state in the northeast that has no statewide nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.)
So, Giant sells Chick-fil-A products but has also signed on in support of the Fairness Act. What is one to do in this situation? Find another grocery store? What if Giant is the only store in the neighborhood? Should Giant be called out for selling Chick-fil-A products? If so, then shouldn’t they also be recognized for signing on to support the Fairness Act?
Perhaps the answer is, simply, to not buy the Chick-fil-A products. There are plenty of other choices on the shelves from companies that do not have an anti-LGBTQ record, including companies that are owned by LGBTQ people.
Is it hypocritical for Giant to sell those products while also publicly stating their support for the Fairness Act? Perhaps. But more importantly, is it worth saying their support is not wanted, simply because they sell one controversial product out of thousands? Absolutely not.
Running a business is complex, and to grow a business as large as Giant, compromise had to happen. The same can be said for LGBTQ equality. Democrats will have to work with Republicans to pass the Fairness Act, period. And some of those Republicans (and fellow Democrats, too) might not have perfect records when it comes to the LGBTQ community. But if they are willing to come to the table on LGBTQ rights, we should meet them there. It’s better than the alternative, which is zero nondiscrimination protections. That’s a reality we’ve had to live with for far too long.
There are larger issues here which would take many columns to explain. Our political systems are being abused by those in power in Pennsylvania and those in the minority in Washington DC. That systematic abuse most definitely needs to be called out because it stops anything meaningful from getting done. But on the grassroots level, when it comes to LGBTQ equality, we need to cast as wide a net as possible, and we need to be willing to compromise. Compromise is how Philadelphia passed its first gay rights bill in 1982, and it’s still a worthwhile tactic in 2021.