August 1st Recast as “Donate (the cost of) a Chicken Dinner” Day

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September 05 2012

Sarah & Brian
Brian Real and Sarah Cantor

Sometimes adversity is a blessing in disguise. It strengthens resolve.

When Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announced that August 1st, 2012 would be “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” in support of the company whose president had gone on record against gay marriage, Brian Real and his girlfriend Sarah Cantor decided they would use the day, and the attention on gay rights, for good.

Brian explains how they rallied close to ten thousand people to donate tens of thousands of dollars to organizations that promote LGBT issues, ARA among them:


I started the Donate (the cost of) a Chicken Dinner Facebook event very quickly and without much forethought. I had been discussing the Jim Henson Company split from Chick-fil-A with a friend and, after I brought up Mike Huckabee’s Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, this friend mentioned the idea of starting a donation drive in response.

I set up the Facebook event and invited some of my friends, with my thought being that it may spread to a few hundred people. This wasn’t about starting something large, but urging individuals to take personal action to counter the negative donations given by Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A president and COO, and the hurtful sentiments of the Huckabee event supporters.  

The Facebook event grew far larger than we anticipated, topping out at just below ten thousand people. My girlfriend Sarah and I both put in the equivalent of a full work week in the short time it was active, reaching out to pro-equality organizations, media outlets, and monitoring the Facebook page.  I invited other friends, including Justin Garrow and Liz DeCoster, to also contact groups and aid with the monitoring.  

We don’t have a complete tally of how much was donated, since we encouraged people to pick an organization they supported and donate, rather than directing people to give to one specific organization. In the end, the final list topped out at over 50 national, state, and local LGBT advocacy organizations.  We have heard from a number of the groups and do know that tens of thousands of dollars in donations came through the event, and, hopefully, we made at least a small difference.  Sarah and I are looking forward to volunteering with groups in Maryland to help promote marriage equality in our home state.

AIDS Research Alliance received 30 donations from Brian and Sarah’s “Donate (the cost of) a Chicken Dinner” Facebook event, totaling $500. We thank Brian, Sarah, Justin and Liz, for their vision and commitment, and for turning adversity into opportunity.

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