BY CANDY PARKER
At age 50 I’ve become a radical — an accidental activist of sorts, to hijack Candace Gingrich’s phrase. Like many LGBT Americans in recent weeks I’ve sworn off Chick-fil-A, bidding a less-than-fond farewell to their crisp salads, perfectly pickled chicken sandwiches and freshly brewed unsweetened iced tea with extra lemon. In light of the recent revelations regarding their multi-million dollar donations to anti-LGBT groups such as Exodus International and The Family Research Council and CEO Dan Cathy’s rigid support for “traditional marriage,” I can no longer dash through their drive-thru at lunch to plunk down my $7 and change and then then sleep like a baby at night.
I, like many, have taken a stand and I’d been feeling fairly proud of myself for doing so. I’m not much of an extremist and can’t recall ever having previously boycotted a product or business for their leanings on a particular political or social issue, so I saw this Chick-fil-A thing as the first grown-up, selfless stance I’d taken — I put the cause above my own personal taste and convenience; I made a real sacrifice, dammit!
Or did I?
I started contemplating the fast food forfeiture and the actual impact it has on my daily life — and the reality is that it’s infinitesimal at best. Sure, it’s a hassle to leave the office mid-day and retrieve my own lunch rather than accepting a co-worker’s offer to bring something back on her almost daily Chick-fil-A run (which she skipped on August 1 at my request), but it hardly qualifies me for martyr status. This set me to thinking — how far would I be willing to go for the LGBT rights cause? What’s my personal “tipping point” in such matters?
My first terrifying thought was this — what if the CEO of Patron tequila suddenly revealed a previously undisclosed predilection toward right-wing doctrine? Would I be able to abandon my beloved lime-green packaged elixir of happiness for the sake of LGBT rights? I calmed myself with thoughts of Don Julio Blanco, confident that I would find comfort in another premium brand of tequila should Patron betray me in such a manner.
Then I upped the ante, my thoughts turning to the various television networks — what if HBO or Showtime, despite programming to the contrary, disclosed massive donations to LGBT hate groups? Could I forever give up on “Dexter,” “Shameless,” “Girls” and untold quantities of the documentary programming of which I am so fond? Ultimately I decided that I could forego those pleasures, recalling the times when I’d previously tightened up the budget and cancelled my premium cable channel services.
Then I landed on the big one, the business I’d venture to guess, for many of us, might be the most difficult of all from which to disassociate — Apple. While such a reversal of principles by the powers that be at Apple is virtually unthinkable, I stopped to consider my actions should the Earth’s axis suddenly be turned in such a manner.
To provide context, I should share that I am fully, intractably at one with my iPhone — I have six email accounts connected to it, a variety of social networking apps without which I’d be paralyzed and am proudly addicted to Words With Friends. I text message like a mad woman, abandoned my digital camera in favor of the iPhone camera ages ago and can barely find my way home from the office each day without my trusty VZ Navigator service. To surrender my iPhone would be a sacrifice of enormous proportions — and I’ve not even gotten to iTunes yet.
I am a music fiend — there’s no such thing as silence in my house. Unless the television is on or I’m sleeping, music is playing. While I’m in the shower, while I’m cooking, while I’m cleaning or while I’m doing just about anything else of which you could possibly think, my iPod is blaring and I’m singing along like I’m auditioning for a karaoke contest. The same is true in my car. My pre-flight checklist involves not only fastening my seatbelt, but locking in my iPod and selecting the playlist du jour.
I don’t know if I could renounce Apple in the name of LGBT rights. Shamefully I must confess that, in all honesty, I likely couldn’t. I’m not sure what that says about my commitment to the cause, but I’m comforted in knowing that it’s a sacrifice I’ll likely never have to make.
So what’s your “tipping point” in regard to giving up a product or service as a display of activism? Is there nothing that you’d not be able to live without if it meant supporting the fight for LGBT rights or is there a line you’d have to draw because you simply couldn’t fathom life without that particular item? How far could you — would you — go?
Candy Parker is a humor writer who sometimes thinks too much and can’t stop herself from converting those thoughts to the written word.