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Nashua Chick-Fil-A to Sponsor NH Pride Fest

Local franchise owner takes a bold step away from the food chain's gay marriage stance.

NASHUA, NH - Ryan Manseau has learned to expect the unexpected.

For example, he walked into the Pheasant Lane Mall looking for a fight. He was all ready to metaphorically shake his fist at Chick-Fil-A over its corporate stance on gay marriage, something company CEO Dan Cathy recently said, invites "God's judgement on our nation."

Instead, Manseau ended up shaking hands with local franchise owner Anthony Piccola, so to speak, as they struck an unexpected deal.

"It started out as a prank," said Manseau, senior director of the NH Pride Fest, of his gay pride canvassing at the mall. His plan was to plant some NH Pride Fest flyers amongst the Chick-Fil-A catering menus outside the mall-based restaurant, for effect.

"After we made the rounds in the mall with the flyers, we circled back by Chick-Fil-A and we spotted a guy who looked like a manager holding the flyer," Manseau said, who was distributing flyers with fellow event organizers Matthew Richards, 19, and Tara Powell, 27.

"So we went up to him ready to talk, to stand our ground. Shockingly enough, he was the owner, Anthony Piccola. He sat down with us – and also with his gay marketing director – and he ordered us all lunch. Then he said, 'Are are you looking for sponsors for this thing?'" Manseau said.

And that's how the owner of a local Chick-Fil-A called for a truce in the midst of a national food fight that has nothing to do with food.

With his offer of event sponsorship, Piccola took a bold stance on what it means to be a part of the community he serves, Manseau said.

"Yeah, there's still paperwork to fill out, but it looks like Chick-Fil-A will be manning a 10-by-10 booth and giving out free food at Pride Fest," Manseau said.

Attempts by Nashua Patch to reach Piccola Tuesday night were unsuccessful. However, a statement quoting Piccola was shared by Pride Fest organizers:

“Chick-fil-A at Pheasant Lane Mall has gay employees and serves gay customers with honor, dignity and respect,” Picolia said. “We also don’t discriminate in giving back to the Nashua community, donating to a wide variety of causes. I would challenge people to come have a conversation with me before they make assumptions or boycott my restaurant.”

Manseau said the turn of events was the last thing he expected, but he's glad he took the time to sit down with Piccola.

"With all the national attention right now, it must be hard to be in his situation. I told him we're expecting 2,000 people at Pride Fest. This is not a little movement, but he's on board," Manseau said. "I was really impressed that he manned up and came over to us and, in his own way, made his own protest of what the CEO of the corporation has to say about homosexuality. It's astonishing."

Manseau said he doesn't think Cathy understood the gravity of his comments last week, or what the repercussions would be for franchise owners.

"What [Piccola has] been dealing with, since all of this started, is people in line for food saying, 'We love you because you hate the gays,' standing next to people in line saying, 'We won't eat here again because you hate the gays.' The thing is, Anthony's not politically or religiously motivated; he's just a business owner."

Fellow Pride Fest organizer Autumn Kent called Piccola's gesture "brave," and said it means a lot, in the scheme of things.

"It's brave of him and I think it's also wonderful, from the perspective of the local focus we've tried to have with Pride Fest, working with locally-owned businesses," Kent said. "Things are happening on the national stage, but when you get down to the local level, and people in our towns start connecting with each other, it's a different story."

"When the conversation starts, person to person, it changes the way we see the world," Kent said.

The Pride Fest, set for Aug. 11 in Manchester's Veterans Park, will feature a pride march, a family-friendly drag show, musical performances, speakers and a puppy drag parade, "open to all pets, not just puppies – we think it's the first puppy drag parade in the nation," added Kent.

Manseau, 21, said it's been a long time since New Hampshire has organized a pride fest, and never one of this magnitude. He has been working hard to get it off the ground, says Manseau, because it's time.

"When I was coming out, things were different. I decided it would be easier to be straight, so I did everything a straight high school student could do – and  almost sacrificed my life a few times in the process," Manseau said. 

"Finally, I stepped out and said I am just going to be gay and be happy. But I also realized that what would've made it so much easier for me was if there was a community there for me. When kids call you 'faggot' and 'homo,' and you're the only one standing there, you feel so alone. I'm hoping that by pulling together all the venues, the clubs, the organizations, and bringing this event to the park and making it huge, it will show people they aren't alone."

He said early on they were hoping to get 300 attendees, if that. But based on their most recent extrapolations from Twitter and Facebook response, it looks like the event could produce upwards of 2,000 people.

"And we want to shine a light on Anthony and Chick-Fil-A, because this is such a huge gesture," Manseau said.

Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 11:31 AM
yes they are. They want to shove their hate on you and then cry they are not treated fairly
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 11:32 AM
God says a man is not to lay with a man as he would with a woman
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 11:34 AM
We live in a nation for Christ, if you do not like that, go to any other country
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Chick fil A ,donated $5 million in 2010 to groups which support America and defend against the hate of homos. What Cathy had to say is, yes, free speech. He says he stands with Christ, he loves everyone, and gives equal treatment to all, but will not accept wrong as being right. If your a Christian, you follow Christ, if you do not follow Christ you are not a Christian. seems very clear to me. If you have a building which says it is a Church, but you do not follow the Word of God, it is NOT a Christian church.
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 11:53 AM
David, if you do not have the info you or anybody can e-mail me and I would be very happy to supply a long list of scientist and books which agree with you
Jan Schmidt August 02, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Jay - he supports the FRC In 2010 they spen $25,000 to lobby Congress NOT to condemn a country who had a ploicy of Killing Gays -
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Chick fil A supports Marriage and family values, and they give money to groups who will defend against the homos hate
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Now that Chick fil A has publicly declared they support the American values, families and marriage they need to send more money to groups who will defend America from the hate of homos
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 12:07 PM
I say, way to go Chick fil A. We need many more companies to defend America from the hate of homos
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I am a Christian, and I support the government letting homos have a civil union. I do defend Marriage to be what it has always been
One Who is Full of Knowledge and Love August 02, 2012 at 01:17 PM
PEOPLE, Listen, Dan Cathy DID NOT state that he "hates gays and the gay community!." All he said is that he supports the biblical definition of a traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which, is and always be the NORMAL marriage. Being "gay" IS a sin. The Bible CLEARLY states that. All Cathy did is stand behind his beliefs with a bold statement. That being said, EVERYONE OF US WAS BORN A SINNER. You ARE NOT born gay. The environment you grow up in, which, in America these days has made people.... "soft," for lack of a better word, has created a huge community of gay people. Heterosexual people are SINNERS TOO! By filling our lives with the Word of the Lord and doing our best to abide by him is all we can do. During the downfall of the Roman Empire, there was a huge increase of gays. It is a SIN. We ALL SIN. This is the fall of the American Empire (unfortunately, but nothing is forever, EXCEPT for LIFE IN HEAVEN), and now you see a great many more gays. You can change your gay outlook. It can be changed. I don't despise gays at all. I accept everyone for who they are, because WE ALL ARE SINNERS and we all are equal in the eyes of God. I just wish there wasn't such a HUGE stance on either side, CAUSING hatred. We must show each other love, and try our best to work together to help our country be the best it can be, economically, politically, spiritually, etc. Please understand that I am a 22 year old, heterosexual college student, with a great outlook on life. LOVE.
Papa Henry August 02, 2012 at 02:53 PM
@Steve -- thanks for your reply. I'd like to here from others to see if they agree (about the CFA owner possibly supporting other types of organizations). I obviously don't agree with your opinion about the "death" of traditional marriage -- but being able to disagree should be what free speech is all about
Papa Henry August 02, 2012 at 03:05 PM
@Joe (and others). The FRC did NOT lobby Congress not to pass the resolution to denounce the Uganda "Kill the Gays" bill. At the request of Congressional staffers, the DID help in changing some of the language. They have clearly (and often) stated that they do not favor the death penalty for gays. For more info see: www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20006856-503544.html (Sorry, I haven't yet figured out how to make this and active link -- only my second post here) And the figures I saw indicated that CFA's most recent reported contribution to FRC was $1000. The FRC hardly seems like the example to use to say CFA donated millions to "Gay Hating" organizations. @Steve -- Can you provide some information to support your "these are the same sort of evangelical xttians suporting the genocide of gays bill in Uganda"
Jan Schmidt August 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM
its not what he said - its what he does... he supports hate groups - he gives money he earns from you eating at his stores to hate - tell lies about our brothers and sisters - does your god accept this kind of behavior? I don't remember any teachings I read as a child that we must lobby to keep Congress from admonishing other countries for their policy on Killing Gays... He can say anything he likes, he can believe it in his heart, he can even imagine a religion that uses money to hurt not help - but he can't have my money to spread hate.
Jason Jehosephat August 02, 2012 at 03:38 PM
He CHOOSES to believe that there is a God as he understands God to be from his reading of the Bible, and therefore his beliefs about gays are also his choice. Being "pro-God" to the extent that you believe that YOUR conception of God should apply ton anybody but yourself is being "pro-yourself" because it means you are holding your judgment as to what the truth is over the judgment of anybody else as to what the truth is. People like Dan Cathy are the arrogant ones.
Devian Michaels August 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Where is the hate in "homos?" All we want to do is have a loving family that is seen as EQUAL. We want our children to be safe at school. We want our spouses to be able to pick up our childrten, to be able to visit them in the hospital, and to have custody over them if we die. We want to be able to walk outside without fear of violence. And we want our companie to support spousal benefits for our spouses. If Chik-Fil-A had donated to the NRA, any association that assists heterosexual couples with counseling, or any other conservative group which remains neutral on the marriage equality issue, then I wouldn't have a problem with them. I myself am a firm supporter of the NRA. However, I am not a supporter of hate groups whose only intent is to pread lies about people. As far as following the teachings of Christ, Cathy is not doing that. Nowhere in any of the books, in the Bible or left out (by MEN, by the way) is Jesus quoted as saying homosexuality is wrong. The New Testament scriptures against homosexuality are all from Paul, a reformed Jewish rabbi who still followed the old laws. Therefore the only "Word of God" I will follow is the word of God himself: Jesus. I don't label myself as Christian because, well, I don't follow the religious dogma that Christianity seems to be plagued with. I follow the teachngs of Jesus while honoring everything He made, including my fellow man and nature. I don't worship in a building, I worship at the alter God made.
Jay Randolph August 02, 2012 at 06:26 PM
As a Christian I have suggest this many times. Take government out of marriage, and do not give any special rights or responsibility to a marriage. Instead the court could have a form for people to fill out for those special rights.
David Kerrigan August 02, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Any Christian who studies their Bible knows that to divorce and marry another is adultery, and deserving of eternal punishment. They also know that a woman engaging in sex with a man she's not married to is to be brought to her father's house and have the men in the village stone her to death. Let's Hear It for PRO GOD ALMIGHTY!!
Gus August 02, 2012 at 06:32 PM
One who is full of ?????? Tell me..... where in the bible says that being gay is a sin... if you're referring to the Leviticus part where it mentions that a man should not lay with another man, then you need to follow every single law that the Leviticus talks about. Including not eating shellfish, stone your kids to death if they answer back etc... Let's be fair and follow every single "law" to the teeth. I think that being unfair should also be considered a sin. If we talk about people who support Chic-Fil-A, you need to really see that most of them are talking about hate, even mentioning that word, "We like you because you HATE the gays"... now tell me... Isn't that hate? In what world are you living? or should I ask... In what part of the bible belt are you living?
Nikole Weisendanger August 02, 2012 at 08:52 PM
JB...do you called your spouse's parents...mother-in-God or mother-in-law??? Just wondering?
David in CA August 02, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Stories like this give me hope Cathy is of corse entitled to his views and to donate money that is his, But the effect on a franchise owner could be to put them out of business, His views are almost as arrogant as his actions. But he has no right to effect franchise owners this way (even if some may well be making money in the short term) anymore than to force his own religion on the lives of others. Mr Piccola on the other hand has my vote. He is worth a hundred Cathy's
J.W. Oliver August 03, 2012 at 04:15 AM
So it seems, if it IS, as you write, "Marriage was created by God," then marriage, being a religious act by your definition, should not be recognized AT ALL by the government, as this would violate the first amendment of the constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
Paul Mercury August 03, 2012 at 04:29 AM
@ Jay "Christians say we follow Christ, and the homosexuals say that is hate" If only more Christians actually DID follow Christ - history's most famous liberal - the world would be a much better place. Too often, it seems like there is this club of angry, judgmental, warlike, haters that refer to themselves as "Christians" and talk about Jesus Christ while ignoring his teachings - which were mostly about helping the poor and the sick. Just sayin'.
Paul Mercury August 03, 2012 at 04:47 AM
@ Jay "family values" is vague, meaningless Republican rhetoric. It's designed to be so vague as to allow the reader or listener to project their own definition onto it. What "family values"? Manson family values? "they give money to groups who will defend against the homos hate" What hate would that be? (this should be good)
Paul Mercury August 03, 2012 at 05:03 AM
@ Jay The issue is about a corporation that uses it's profits to support hate groups. It really doesn't have anything to do with you. And the definition of "marriage" has changed quite a bit over the years, so saying "what it's always been" doesn't make sense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_civil_marriage_in_the_United_States And why do you use the term "homos" to describe gay people?
Paul Mercury August 03, 2012 at 05:06 AM
@ Jay "the hate of homos" Seeing something of a trend here. What does that mean? What "hate"? Sounds like you're the one hating.
AlfsDogs August 03, 2012 at 05:48 AM
there is no place in any bible from a recognised relegion that says to hate. Hate is what being a Christian is about, teaching and helping others to learn love and acceptance. The bible also says that it is not our place to Judge. I guess that part was left out of your bible. might want to check it out.
AlfsDogs August 03, 2012 at 06:05 AM
These are people that understand the true meaning of freedom. People working together to support one another in making life better for all of the community. we often talk of our forfathers, well here is a very important part of this conversation.... http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/henry-liberty.html please take a moment, this is where our country started.
R. Scott White August 05, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Why gay haters rely on a Leviticus verse which is clearly temporary (after all, the Hebrews were fleeing an advancing Egyptian army at the time) - and includes other verses designed for discipline and speedy movement that in no way reflect a typical good 21st century Christian - is beyond me.
Hilltopper August 07, 2012 at 07:56 PM
1. The Red Sea took care of the Egyptians before Moses presented Leviticus 2. What the heck is a "typical good 21st century Christian"?? I didn't realize a Christian's value is based on time--

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