Yes, after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings, I am coming out in a new way, as a friend of Chick-fil-A's president and COO, Dan Cathy, and I am nervous about it. I have come to know him and Chick-fil-A in ways that I would not have thought possible when I first started hearing from LGBT students about their concerns over the chicken chain's giving practices.
Through all this, Dan and I shared respectful, enduring communication and built trust. His demeanor has always been one of kindness and openness. Even when I continued to directly question his public actions and the funding decisions, Dan embraced the opportunity to have dialogue and hear my perspective. He and I were committed to a better understanding of one another. Our mutual hope was to find common ground if possible, and to build respect no matter what. We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.
During our meetings I came to see that the Chick-fil-A brand was being used by both sides of the political debate around gay marriage. The repercussion of this was a deep division and polarization that was fueling feelings of hate on all sides.It's a credit to Windmeyer that he's telling this story, because I'm sure he's going to get nothing but grief from his contemporaries for saying anything other than, "Dan Cathy is the devil." (However, I have to call "Duh" on his sudden discovery that people were using the Chick-Fil-A controversy to further their political interests. You think so, professor?)
But it's an even greater credit to Cathy for reaching out in the first place. Man, oh, man would I love to hear this story from his perspective. Although, I suspect he's too classy, and, by now, too cautious of the media, to tell too much about his private interactions.
I think Dan Cathy bears very close study through this whole period of Chick-Fil-A history, because it seems he's really showing us how it's done. And by "us," I mean business leaders, Christians, and human beings.