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Citing Chick-fil-A, Two LGBT Groups Split with NH Pride Fest

Groups blast NH Pride for "their decision to promote the Chick-fil-A name."

Two LGBT groups from Massachusetts have withdrawn from the, citing what they called the event organizer's promotion of the Chick-fil-A brand.

Their decision, announced Thursday, is related to the owner of the Chick-fil-A in Nashua expressing support for and his donation of food for the event at Veterans Park in Manchester. 

NH Pride Fest does not in any way support Chick-fil-A, according to its board. But they do support Anthony Picolia, the franchise owner, who will hand out 200 free chicken sandwiches Saturday, according to Bryan Manseau, NH Pride Fest director.

Manseau, in a phone interview with Nashua Patch, said the Chick-fil-A owner is one of about 29 vendors for Pride Fest, where he expects a crowd of 2,000. He said he spoke with representatives of the groups withdrawing from the event, but could not settle their differences of opinion.

NH Pride Fest members see the Nashua restaurant owner as a local hero for speaking out, not as a foot soldier of a corporation that supports policies they find discriminatory.

Manseau, however, said he did initially worry about the donated chicken sandwiches being interpreted as an embrace of the corporation. 

"It is a fear of mine," he said in the interview, "but the board doesn't feel that way."

GetEQUAL Massachusetts and Join the Impact Massachusetts are the groups withdrawing support from NH Pride Fest.

The organizations, in a press release, stated:

"We were looking forward to participating in NH Pride as individuals of a community that stretches beyond state borders. Unfortunately, our ‘Pinkwashing of Chick-fil-A” blog post was met with charges of bullying. NH Pride’s continued support of their decision to promote the Chick-fil-A name has forced us to reconsider our participation in their Pride Event, an event we were happy to see return to New Hampshire and one we continue to support, but have determined best to withdraw from."

Chick-fil-A makes no bones about being opposed to marriage equality, nor about the millions of dollars they’ve given to defend “biblical marriage” and the “traditional family." This is a curious position for a corporation, or an individual store beholden to that corporation, to support considering the perennial battle in New Hampshire to retain their equal marriage law. Removed from much of the media coverage is the fact that Chick-fil-A doesn’t restrict their anti-gay discrimination donations to the marriage fight but they also give money to ex-gay conversion therapy ministries and other anti-gay groups -- including one organization identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group" -- engaged in various campaigns to prohibit and take away our equal rights like NH’s unanimous defeat of a much-lobbied-against transgender rights bill.

Despite the Nashua franchisee’s declaration of being welcoming to the gay community, his restaurant -- like all Chick-fil-A restaurants -- gives 15% gross + 50% net profits back to the Atlanta-based parent company, from which Chick-fil-A is free to donate to whomever they want. The $50 booth fee for NH Pride is a paltry price for the local Chick-fil-A to pay in order to market a product, in the hopes of gaining new fans who will produce more profits -- profits which will end up supporting anti-gay groups working against the interests of the very people and their loved ones NH Pride is celebrating. The Chick-fil-A story for the LGBTQ community has always been one about a company specifically supporting efforts that harm our community, not about a private citizen’s personal opinions.

Cathy Kristofferson, a board member with Join the Impact Massachusetts, said in the groups' announcement, "This isn’t about chicken, and this isn’t about individual acts of kindness. This isn’t about the Cathy family’s personal opinions, and it isn’t even really about marriage equality. This is about lives -- all our lives -- and whether or not we ever get to live them freely and fully equal. This is what the Fight for the 14th is all about. Won’t you join us?”

In one response to Join the Impact's criticism earlier this week, NH Pride Fest produced a video to accuse them of trying to bully them. The YouTube video is attached here.

Brian S Boynton August 09, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I want it to be made clear that several other organizations have also withdrawn support for NH PRIDE FEST. In part for their poor decision making, Inappropriate security measures, derogatory comments made toward members of the LGBTQ community or our supporting straight allies. I am ever so saddened to think the I along with many NH organizations will not be participating in the Pride events. I to wish to say that next year, there is a group already forming to produce a much more diverse and excepting Pride event. Best of luck to my fellow LGBTQ community in their decision making on weather or not to attend and support this event.
Mark August 10, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I wouldn't participate in ANY Pride function with a DIME from Chick-fil-A
Justin August 10, 2012 at 05:02 AM
I believe the Fight for EQUALITY is being fought 1 state, and 1 Country at a time Worldwide. So why not the same 1 CHICK-FIL-A at a time... Most Restaurants are Franchises and their owners dont all Accept or stand by Dan Cathys views or beliefs. We want them to join us in Equality, yet 2 LGBT groups are denying that support from a single owner??? That itself is Hypocritical! HOWEVER- I DO NOT believe or think it is are will be appropriate to hand out sandwhichs, which is advertisement for the brand in a larger sense. With the spotlight and all the LGBT community has had thrown in their face so recently by a Company stating his brand as a whole, I dont think sandwh ichs is what we want nor acceptable. I Thank this owner VERY much for his support! And his willingness to show 'ALL' are not the same. I believe an acceptable way to support this event would be a Monetary donation by this Franchise and its owner, with a Deffinate credit mentioning by doing so. I myself would not take, advertise, or eat their food at this time. Walking around at a Pride parade with a CHICK-FIL-A wrapper, may seem to others that show up without knowing what is going on, that I there to protest or spread Hate myself. I live in St. Louis and I support NH and their Pride, but why so late??? LoL June is PRIDE month... Did no one get that memo?
Charles August 10, 2012 at 09:18 AM
Bullied, really? It takes a really privileged person to equate these groups' refusal to participate in pride with the torment that LGBTQ youth experience on a daily basis. It's a strong sense of entitlement that they must have to insist that every group agrees with them. If you want to associate with this Chik-Fil-A restaurant, so be it, but to think that you're being bullied shows a real lack of understanding of what our youth have to go through.
James Wendel August 10, 2012 at 11:01 AM
I support GetEQUAL Massachusetts and Join the Impact Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the NH Pridefest has been paid off in chicken Sandwiches to pinkwash Chick-Fil-A. Fortunately, the board will all lose their seats when turnout to the event is a bust.
Ryan Glen Hirsch August 10, 2012 at 02:22 PM
We have already stated everything that needs to be stated in the video. The Bullying comment was actually NOT about Join the Impact, but they decided to take it that way instead of asking us if it was a direct response to them or not. And I must ask the hard question. How do you pull your support from something your organization didn't support in the first place? Their statement said they were going to come as individuals. Does anyone else see that this organization has no business laying claim to pullying their support when we actually haven't received their support in the first place? The fact of the matter is, we have received very little support from the beginning, except for a few great organizations who did support us until they decided not to go after hearing rumors about the event and receiving political and economical pressure not to attend. I make the statement that NH Pride Fest is not the only group or individuals that are trying to pressured by those who would use their influence and power against the community. You can dissagree with our decisions. That is fine. You can withdraw your support from the event. That is also fine. But when you start using your power and influence to get others not to support an event that is going to be great for community building because you personally don't like a few of the members of the organization, and you personally don't agree with some of the decisions.
Ryan Glen Hirsch August 10, 2012 at 02:22 PM
When you are going to hold political, financial, or direct pressure over other individuals and groups to go the way you want them to go, how is that not bullying?  Just because it doesn't involve physical abuse, doesn't mean it isn't bullying. You can look up the definition of bullying and it is quite clear. What we have seen quite a few individuals doing leading up to this pride Festival is bullying other members of their own community to get what they want. 
Stephen Clark August 10, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Ryan Hirsch has utterly belittled the horror of anti-gay bullying by using the word to describe this dispute. In doing so, he's made himself an embarrassment to the movement.
Ryan Glen Hirsch August 10, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I have not mentioned anything about anti-gay bullying. I mentioned bullying. bullying present participle of bul·ly Verb: Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants. More info »Wikipedia - Answers.com - Merriam-Webster - The Free Dictionary Anti-gay bullying is something I take very very seriously. So seriously in fact, that when Rick Perry came out with his Anti-gay presidential campaign ad, it prompted myself and a school guidance counselor who worked to end school bullying to plan and implement the Operation Pride march during the NH Primary to counter the remarks of Republican Presidential Primary Candidates Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. We stood and marched in the cold of January during the NH Primary with 300 people committed to fighting the intolerance of those candidates. Members of Occupy New Hampshire, Lots of members of the LGBT community, FedUp, 2 Presidential candidates, and gay rights activist Dan Choi stood together to stand against that kind of anti-gay bullying and anti-gay rhetoric. Several members of the NH Pride Fest planning committee have donated money and time to preserve gay marriage in this state when it came under threat. And we will gladly do it again if it ever comes under threat again. I have been a member of several equal rights groups since middle school.
Drewboo August 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Shame on PrideFest!
J. Horner February 21, 2013 at 02:29 PM
I am confused. The Corporate heads of ChikfilA have waged war on LGBT but the LOCAL OWNERS (some of whom may be gay) haven't. I commend the local franchise owner for bucking the corporate culture and OPENLY supporting LGBT. If anything, I expect the corporate lawyers to contact the owner and say "get in line". The LGBT community should embrace this owner and shame the corporation!

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