How is this not a gay anthem yet? (Updated)

I’ve had my first Frozen experience. I still haven’t seen the movie, but during my family’s recent reunion at Walt Disney World, we all saw the Frozen sing-a-long show at Hollywood Studios. There, I got to hear the song “Let It Go.”

How is this song not an LGBT anthem? It’s about a woman who’s been keeping a secret her entire life, until one day her secret becomes public and she decides she’s going to live openly, without guilt and shame. She sings “you can’t hold me back anymore,” and “I don’t care what they’re going to say.” This song is clearly a metaphor for coming out.

I’m disappointed I haven’t heard this song at a pride parade or gay bar yet.

Update: I just Googled “Let It Go gay anthem” and found this story in the Guardian that comes to the same conclusion I did:

Outside the film, Let It Go is also a coming-out anthem for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people: “Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know/ Well now they know!” The lines “It’s funny how some distance/ Makes everything seem small/ And the fears that once controlled me/ Can’t get to me at all” could almost be from an It Gets Better video.

LGBT-friendly businesses are now too big to boycott

Oh, there’s nothing I love more than a right-wing boycott. Every time the American Taliban says people shouldn’t shop somewhere, I put my money on the boycotted company.

Remember the Southern Baptist Convention’s boycott of the Walt Disney Company over claims that the media and theme park giant was too friendly to gays and lesbians? Domestic partner benefits and Gay Days (footnote 1) — the horror! The SBC withdrew the boycott in 2005, claiming that Disney had heard and heeded its message. But that’s not what happened. Disney is consistently lauded as one of the best places in America for LGBT people to work, and the company continues to include LGBT characters in its programming (footnote 2).

I think the days of the right-wing boycott might be over, because there are simply too many companies to boycott. If the right wing decided to boycott companies that provide equal benefits to LGBT employees, they couldn’t even send out a press release, unless they could figure out a way to do it without using Microsoft, Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Adobe products. All three companies scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index. And forget about typing up a press release and photocopying it, as Xerox also scores 100.

And I hope the potential boycotters like to use nothing but cash, because American financial institutions are some of the most LGBT-friendly companies out there. Nearly 50 financial institutions scored 100 on the Corporate Equality Index, including nearly every major bank (Citi, Bank of America, and so on), nearly every major player on Wall Street (Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, for example), and all four of the major credit card companies: American Express, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.

Actually, that take-the-cash-out-of-the-bank-and-stuff-it-in-the-mattress plan might not work. NCR, manufacturer of ATMs, scores 100.

Potential boycotters can’t even sell their stock in companies they disapprove of, or buy more stock in companies that share their bigoted views. That’s because all stock trades in the US are processed through the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. — which, as you may have guessed by now, also scores a perfect 100.

In fact, potential boycotters should be wetting their pants, because many companies aren’t just committed to making their workplaces open and equitable — they’re actually taking a political stance in favor of marriage equality. Just yesterday, consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble said it’s in favor of marriage equality. Boycott them and you can’t buy hundreds of products — including many brands of diapers, detergent, toothpaste, and shampoo. P&G joins Apple, Starbucks, Pfizer, Google, Intel, and a growing number of companies that have publicly announced their support for marriage equality — some even going as far as to file amicus briefs in marriage equality lawsuits.

Today’s boycotts are toothless and nearly invisible. Ever heard of Dump Starbucks, founded by the National Organization for Marriage (footnote 3)? Of course you haven’t. No one has. And Starbucks certainly isn’t seeing any affect from this boycott — since the company announced its support of marriage equality in early 2012, its stock price has doubled.

All this makes me smile. Maybe a little too much. But you have to admit there’s a lot of justice in the fact that even the most vile hate groups like the American Family Association (footnote 4) are forced to rely on products and services made by companies that promote the values of fairness and equality for LGBT people.

Oh, and remember that boycott against Disney? Guess which company scored a perfect 100 on the Corporate Equality Index — again? That’s right: Disney.

Footnotes
1. Gay Days is not a Disney-sponsored event — but you can’t ignore how much rainbow-themed Disney merchandise is suddenly available around the first weekend in June.
2. And especially steamy, explicit gay programming in its new show, “How to Get Away with Murder.” As a straight man in the 1940s might say, va-va-va-voom.
3. Or, as it should be called, the National Organization for Opposite-Sex Marriage Only, or the National Organization Against Marriage Equality.
4. Certified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Off topic: Hooray for my hometown

Florida lags behind the times when it comes to LGBT protections. As you might know, it’s perfectly legal for an employer to fire you simply for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (footnote 1).

However, several cities have stepped up to the plate to provide the protections that the state does not. And, in a recently released report, my hometown of Tampa, Fla., is one of the cities leading the way, scoring 97 on the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index. Just across the bay, St. Petersburg scored a perfect 100. The average for cities in Florida is 65 (footnote 2).

These two cities are moving very quickly to reduce discrimination and promote a pro-equality agenda. One year ago, Tampa scored 89 and St. Petersburg got only 66.

The scores are important because they’re a clear signal to everyone that these cities are welcoming places for LGBT people to live and work. Businesses can’t afford to lose talented workers because of discrimination at any level of government. While I don’t think these scores are going to change the tone in Tallahassee (footnote 3), they represent real points of progress.

Footnotes
1. And, after last week’s disappointing election, it’s foolish to think that the state legislature is going to change this any time soon.
2. Read the Tampa Bay Times’ article here.
3. See footnote 1.

The relationship between LGBT people and GDP

A new study suggests that acceptance and strong protections for LGBT people promote economic growth in developing countries. The study, conducted by the U.S. Agency for International Development and UCLA’s School of Law, looked at 29 countries with varying records of treating LGBT people. The study concludes that countries that have decriminalized same-sex acts and enacted anti-discrimination laws have a per capita GDP of $1,763 more than countries that still discriminate.

A good reminder that LGBT equality isn’t just good for business — it’s good for the economy too.

Newsflash: LGBT people like gift cards

When my husband and I got married, we received plenty of gift cards — but none with a rainbow flag, or depicting two grooms together. That was several years ago. Today, retailers have caught on to the fact that LGBT people are getting married and starting families. In response, they’re offering new LGBT-friendly e-gift cards, like the ones shown here from Target and Amazon.

gift card

Target e-gift card

I think this is a good first step for retailers, but they need to do more to prove their commitment to LGBT customers. I think there should be physical LGBT-friendly gift cards sold in stores (footnote 1). The e-gift cards are good, but they’re hidden to people who aren’t looking for them. Physical cards would show the shopping public that (a) the retailer is LGBT friendly and (b) LGBT people enjoy receiving gifts.

Footnote
1. Well, not in Amazon’s case. They don’t have brick-and-mortar stores.

Speaking of Tim Cook

Just three days after I praised Tim Cook for speaking out against LGBT discrimination in Alabama, the Apple CEO has come out of the closet. It’s not a surprise — people have been talking about it for years, and Cook was featured on last year’s Out Power List.

In his column for Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook writes:

When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.

When I was growing up, there were no LGBT role models — certainly none in the world of business. Today, LGBT youth have a lot of people to look up to. And, as of today, there’s one more role model out there to inspire us all (footnote 1).

Footnotes
1. In response to Cook’s coming out, Texas Republican asshole Senator Ted Cruz said Cook’s sexual orientation was a personal choice. That’s why we need heroes like Cook to come out — to expose the bigots and sweep them into the ash heap of history.

I didn’t think it was possible to love Tim Cook any more — and then he does this! [Updated]

Tim Cook, the Apple CEO who grew up in a rural town in Alabama (footnote 1), took the entire state of Alabama to task for moving too slowly on LGBT rights. From the Montgomery Advertiser:

“As a state, we took too long to take steps toward equality,” said to a crowd gathered in the Old House Chamber at the Alabama State Capitol. “We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage. And we are still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.”

Alabama’s governor and many state officials were in the audience. Let’s hope they heard the message (footnote 3).

Update

There’s video:

Footnotes
1. Like my husband. The rural town in Alabama part, not the Apple CEO part (footnote 2).
2. Could you imagine! I’d be wearing my Apple Watch right now.
3. You can get fired in Alabama for being gay. The same thing is sadly true in my state.

It’s time for UT to boot Chick-fil-A

Let’s make two things perfectly clear.

First, Chick-fil-A has every right to sell their chicken sandwiches.

Second, Chick-fil-A also has every right to support organizations that demean, devalue, and discriminate against human beings – to be, in effect, the Rick Santorum of the restaurant industry.

Few people would argue with that first statement, as there are few fast food concoctions as tasty as the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich. A fried chicken breast and some pickle chips, served on a hot buttery bun, with a side of waffle fries and Polynesian sauce – I’m salivating just thinking about it (footnote 1).

Many people are unhappy with the second statement, and I’m one of them. However, it’s a fact of American life. People, and organizations, are allowed to donate money wherever they like. Chick-fil-A is a privately owned company, unaccountable to shareholders or the public in the way that McDonald’s or Burger King is. The company can give its money to whatever organization it deems fit. So can its owners.

The question we must wrestle with today doesn’t have to do with Chick-fil-A’s food or its charitable practices, but whether the company deserves a spot on the University of Tampa campus. I say no, it does not, because Chick-fil-A’s actions and values are opposed to those of the university.

At Chick-fil-A, your dollars pay for discrimination. Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation supports many evangelical organizations that discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgender people. According to multiple sources, WinShape has given more than $3 million to anti-gay groups since 2003. The groups include the so-called Family Research Council, which states on its website that being gay “… is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed,” and “It is by definition unnatural.”

Chick-fil-A doesn’t just discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgender people. The New York Times reported in 2011 that Chick-fil-A routinely donates money for scholarships and foster homes – but only ones that espouse Christian values. That means that if you’re Jewish, Chick-fil-A doesn’t think you’re worthy of a college scholarship.

Shocked? You should be. Other companies don’t make discrimination a part of their philanthropic efforts. Imagine if McDonald’s decided that only Christians could stay at the Ronald McDonald house!

With such values, what message is Chick-fil-A sending to me, a Jewish, gay, married man? I envision a targeted advertising campaign for Jews in which cows hold placards that say “Eat mor chiken but yoo must konvert be4 we reespekt yoo.” Or one for the LGBT community: “Yoo don’t deeerve eekual rites. Eat mor chiken.”

I’ve already stated that Chick-fil-A, as a private company, has the right to do whatever it wants with its money.

But UT is also a private organization. And UT is better than Chick-fil-A.

UT doesn’t “discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, handicap, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.” That’s in quotes because it’s lifted directly from UT’s student handbook. UT extends this non-discrimination policy to all areas of campus life. It applies “to the design and operation of any of our programs, policies, or activities.”

As a private institution, UT can choose what businesses it does business with – and, more importantly, what businesses it wants to be associated with. By allowing Chick-fil-A on campus, UT is telling its students, staff, faculty, and guests that it doesn’t mind hosting a company that thumbs its nose at the school’s values, ethics, and morals. Every Chick-fil-A sandwich sold on campus is another knock on UT’s reputation.

Let’s make a third thing perfectly clear: UT is not required to give space to Chick-fil-A. There’s no Fairness in Fast Food act that requires UT, as a landlord, to roll over whenever a restaurant wants to do business on campus. If there were, Chick-fil-A’s presence might not be so egregious.

So, what does the university need to do?

First, it needs to say farewell to Chick-fil-A. Yes, there are probably contracts that need to be unravelled. But it’s a mistake for Chick-fil-A to do business at UT, and that mistake needs to be remedied as quickly as possible. Chick-fil-A can buy or lease its own real estate elsewhere.

Second, the school needs to adopt a stronger anti-discrimination policy. It’s not enough that the school tells students, staff, and faculty that they can’t discriminate. It needs to tell vendors – the firms that do business with UT – that if they discriminate, they can’t have UT’s business. The school can earn its money any way it wants – why should it take money from businesses that think some UT students, faculty, and staff aren’t as worthy of human rights as other ones?

If a company wants to give all of its profits to organizations that work against women, or minorities, or the LGBT community, then so be it. But that company has no business being in business at UT.

Footnote
1. For the record, McDonald’s makes a really good Southern-style chicken sandwich.