What happens when a Broadway star supports Chick-fil-A?

9 Aug

Yesterday, I wrote about Broadway star and Chick-fil-A fan, Bailey Hanks as part of a broader discussion. Today, I feel as though it deserves it’s own post.

Bailey, who was cast to take over the starring role in Broadway’s Legally Blonde following a MTV reality contest, has been playing Elle Woods on the road for years now. While I’m sure she’s a talented young lady, I can’t help but wonder how the presumably dozens of gay people who work with her must feel about her support of an anti-gay corporation.

Yesterday upon finding out she had touted her support for Chick-fil-A on Facebook, I added an image to a piece I’d already been working on about the greater conversation regarding people’s reaction to the whole controversy. I also tweeted my disappointment to Bailey herself. Upon responding that she was a “Proud Christian” and not responding to my questions regarding her support for a company that gave millions to anti-gay hate groups, she quickly blocked her public twitter feed. Additionally, she quickly removed the image she’d posted on Facebook.

While everyone has the right to do and say what they please – it’s still a free country after all – it surprises me to see someone who spends every day surrounded by gay people, yet still believe they don’t deserve the same rights and protections  that she does. It reminds me of the drama surrounding Scott Eckern – the Artistic Director at the Sacramento Music Circus a few years back. Scott had contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, supporting a California Amendment that would strip LGBT couples of their right to marry. 18,000 couples had already been married at that point and the hateful proposition halted those marriages from happening. I was heavily involved with communications with Scott at the time and Marc Shaiman (composer of Broadway’s Hairspray) and Susan Egan (Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) also played a heavy part in leading the charge against someone who would make all their money because of gay people, but then work to have their rights taken away. In the interest of not damaging the reputation of his organization, Eckern resigned.

And while Bailey Hanks is hardly a household name, her opinion is one that is seen by lots of young gay people. What does it say to a young teen struggling with their identity when they see someone they look up to supporting something so hateful? What does it say to coworkers who are gay when they are working with someone who not only doesn’t believe in their rights to equal protections under the law, but posts it on her Facebook page?

Look, I don’t believe Bailey is a bigot. I think she’s terrifically uninformed and ignorant on the facts.

Bailey – if you’re listening, this is not about someone’s personal beliefs. This is about the fact that Chick-fil-A has given millions to anti-gay groups who are fighting to have gay people put to death in some countries. This is about the groups they support who are working to have homosexuality criminalized here in the U.S.. These are organizations who believe children are better off spending their whole lives in a foster care system instead of having two loving same-sex parents. They spread lies that gay people are child molesters (when every credible study has proven the opposite). They tell people that we are unable to be in committed relationships, that we are trying to harm the church or damaging heterosexual marriage and families. None of these things are true of course, but your words and your support of Chick-fil-A says to your friends, your co-workers and your young gay fans that you believe they are worth less than you. It says that you believe they shouldn’t be allowed to have families. I don’t think that’s what you feel. In my heart of hearts, without even really knowing you, I believe your experience tells you something different.


It turns out Hanks isn’t completely alone. Broadway performer Wallace Smith (Godspell) also tweeted out his support for Chick-fil-A. While not quite the same ringing endorsement Hanks gave, it’s still troubling to see someone whose lifestyle and career is dependent on the work of LGBT people not coming out against such a bigoted corporation. It seems our out Broadway friends and allies need to step up the education in the community. Your chicken sandwich is not more valuable than the lives of gay people that are threatened in other countries.

UPDATE 2****

Following this same post being published at HuffingtonPost, Bailey started receiving some negative attention on her Twitter account. While some of it was most certainly uncalled for and rude, most people just wanted some kind of reply from her. Instead of replying, Bailey deleted her Twitter account. There may have been something she wrote during all that, but as she’d blocked me yesterday for asking questions, I can’t tell you what she may have written.

On her public Facebook fan page, some people had written very thoughtful replies and requests for an apology from Bailey. To my knowledge, she hasn’t offered any kind of apology and the only real response she has posted has been on her private Facebook page.

As I said above, I didn’t think she was a bigot and I truly believed she just needed some education on the matter. I don’t know that I think that’s true any longer. She has now had several opportunities to offer an apology and instead she has taken to her private Facebook to compare her plight to that of Jesus on the cross. I’m sorry, dear Bailey, but you are no martyr. You ate a chicken sandwich, some waffle fries and a brownie and then put a photo of your food on Twitter so all your gay friends and fans could see that you didn’t believe they deserved the same rights as you. That doesn’t make you a martyr, it makes you a bigot.

12 Responses to “What happens when a Broadway star supports Chick-fil-A?”

  1. NY032 August 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I hope you’re using the term “Broadway star” loosely…

    • Anonymous Anonymous August 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      Daniel Torres, understudy to Ricky Martin in Broadway’s EVITA, recently created a hilarious song in protest to the recent Chick-fil-A debacle, entitled “Don’t Eat At Chick-fil-A”. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Daniel perform the role of Che in Evita as well as perform his new song and HE is a star. Check out and share this amazing performer’s song in support of the fight for Equal Rights.

    • Terry August 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      She is a washed-up has-been stuck in road shows across the racist homophobic South. The LGBT community gave her her career, but that career is now effectively over. She stabbed in the back everyone who helped her and I doubt there will be any help forthcoming ever again. But since she really has no range of talent, she was washed-up before the flap she herself created by spitting in the faces of everyone who ever helped her.

  2. Randall labolle August 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    I think I shall never see anything this young woman is in… Ever. Same for mr. Wallace smith… The gay community has a lonnnnggg memory you two!

  3. Rick Shur August 10, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Here’s a Christian left response to Chick-Fil-A

  4. Kendrick Johns August 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Im confused? I get why Bailey is under fire but not Mr Smith. He never said that he supported Chick fil a. It sounds like he had a sense of humor, not support of Chick fil A.

  5. sean August 11, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Saying this Bailey person is a Broadway star, is like saying Chick Fil A is a gourmet meal; Neither are true.

  6. @PatKernanQuinn August 13, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    Wow! More bullying from the gay left. Can’t we all just get along? You say how much you Christians hate you, but you hating them back isn’t making the world a better place. Both sides need to shut up and learn tolerance. You don’t have to agree but you both have the right to your opinions. Also, the Chick-fil-A appreciation day wasn’t an anti-gay act. It was in support of Religious Liberty. That was the founding principle of this country. I know this is all falling on deaf ears, but just so you know, it’s okay to believe different things. But it’s not okay to hate other people because their beliefs are different from yours, and then label them haters, when you’re equally guilty. Live and let live. Love and let love.
    Patrick Kernan Quinn

    • Jamie McGonnigal August 13, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      Once again, there is no hatred being tossed around here. Nowhere in what I’ve written is there any hatred towards anyone. There is education and there is questioning of one’s actions. Patrick, 10% of the population simply cannot “bully” 76% of the population. Come talk to me when Christians are being kicked out of their homes in this country for being Christian. Talk to me when 1/4 of homeless teenage youth identify as Christian and when kids are tied to a fence, beaten and killed because they’re Christian. I know you’re a fan of lifting up and even voting for people who are trying to take away your rights, but I guess I don’t have that kind of “love” within me. You take “turn the other cheek” to such an extreme that if we all lived the way you did, we would be more bloodied and beaten than we already are.

      Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was ABSOLUTELY an anti-gay act. If you don’t think it was, have a chat with the gay employees there that day who frequently heard things like “I’m here cuz you don’t support them faggots.” You say it’s okay to believe different things, and I agree. But when your belief is that it’s okay to support someone who would rather see me dead, you can bet I’m going to stand up and say something.


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