FIRST PERSON | PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Just 48 hours after the success of the first ever "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," the calls of gay and lesbian activists for a "National Same-Sex Kiss Day" at the fast food restaurant to protest Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy's opposition to same-sex marriage appear to have gone unanswered in this conservative region of Florida.
On Friday, August 3, I returned to the Chick-fil-A location at 1814 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte. Along with countless other Chick-fil-A stores, this establishment made headlines on Wednesday when thousands endured hours of waiting to demonstrate support and fill the business to capacity.
The scene on "National Same-Sex Kiss Day" proved very different. With the protest scheduled to occur specifically at 8 p.m., the late dinner crowd witnessed no visible form of disagreement or displays of kissing. Nevertheless, the restaurant still enjoyed a brisk business on Friday. During lunch, unusually long lines and a drive-thru wrapped around the building reflected a continued outpouring of local support for the eatery. By the planned time of protest in the evening, however, the crowd had diminished considerably and a reasonably close parking space could even be obtained.
Not surprising for this retirement haven of Florida, there were indeed no signs of special activity throughout the day at Port Charlotte's sole Chick-fil-A. "I'm just enjoying my lunch," said one afternoon patron, seemingly not phased by calls for agitation. "Just another day," later said an evening clerk at the counter refreshing a beverage. Unable to witness kissing of any sort from the diverse crowd, customers appeared more concerned with the choice of fried or grilled chicken.
Earlier in the day, I spoke with Edward Leslie, the operator of this Chick-fil-A. "I was completely humbled," Leslie admitted. "When getting home late Wednesday night after a full day of work, I started crying. The support from this community means so much."
Without any protests, Leslie assisted in the tasks of serving the crowd. As the owner went table to table collecting trash and filling drink refills, he chatted amicably with patrons, many of whom expressed solidarity with the goals of Chick-fil-A.
Concerning the possibility of a same-sex kiss-in, "We will gladly serve everybody and provide them some great food," said Leslie.
The restaurant owner described the drive-thru customer who ordered 65 milkshakes to be passed out freely among the crowd. Leslie further noted the Good Samaritan deliveries of bottled waters and the musicians who strummed guitars to entertain.
With bustling lines and filled tables, Southwest Florida residents continue to support this Chick-fil-A location and the larger company itself. The calls for a same-sex kiss day appear unanswered in Port Charlotte.
Jeff Briscoe is a regular contributor to Yahoo! Contributor Network and resident of Charlotte County, Florida .
- Society & Culture
- Port Charlotte
- Edward Leslie