While the turnout for Same-Sex Kiss-In Day at Chick-fil-A may have paled in comparison to that of last week’s National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, LGBT activists aren’t throwing in the economic towel just yet. Tuesday has been set as “Starbucks Appreciation Day,” in honor of the company’s recent support of LGBT rights.
The organization that arranged this event, called Equally Wed, bills itself as “the nation’s premier online LGBT wedding magazine.” Although activists initially singled out Starbucks to receive their support, the company has since renamed the Facebook page for the event “National Marriage Equality Day.”
Their page now features an extensive list of pro-gay companies and is urging activists to support as many of them as they can, at the private suggestion of Starbucks itself. So far, almost 35,000 people have signed up to attend the event, and are set to patronize a range of companies, everything from Abercrombie & Fitch to Microsoft.
In comparison, hundreds of thousands of people turned out to different Chick-fil-A locations nationwide on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, setting an all-time sales record for the chicken company. While it’s tempting to look at the numbers as proof that Americans still don’t support LGBT equality, the percent of Americans who support gay marriage has just passed the percent of Americans who don’t. Support for gay equality is growing, while opposition to it is shrinking.
Perhaps the turnout at Chick-fil-A instead stemmed from the visible politician who created it (Mike Huckabee) and the argument used to promote the event, that it was a celebration of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. So far, most movements to support LGBT-friendly organizations have come from the consumers themselves, rather than politicians or celebrities. Meanwhile, celebrities have led the most successful backlash against anti-gay companies , such as Miley Cryus’s criticism of Urban Outfitters in 2011.
It could also be the case that the incredible amount of publicity that Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day received is indicative of shifting American opinion. At this point, a politician who calls for a day in support of a company that is opposed to gay rights may be more scandalous than than one who calls for support for a pro-gay company. LGBT rights opponents may feel more inspired to turn out to companies like Chick-fil-A as the tide continues to turn against them.
I’ve already appreciated Starbucks today, before I even heard about the event. I don’t expect that Starbucks Appreciation Day will cause a noticeable increase in their business, but that doesn’t mean that Americans don’t support LGBT rights. If anything, it means that the LGBT and allied community are feeling a bit more confident than frantic Chick-fil-A supporters right now.