Mets playing chicken with part of fan base

Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

Could the timing be any worse?

Just before its annual Pride Night on Aug. 10, the New York Mets team has decided that now would be the perfect time to launch advertising from a company known for its anti-gay agenda.

The owner of the Chick-fil-A chicken chain regularly makes donations to anti-gay groups and charities. The company’s advertising now adorns the foul poles at Citi Field. In a 2012 interview with the Baptist Press, company chief executive Dan Cathy said he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit.” In other words, that same-sex marriage is a sin.

I asked David Kilmnick, president of the LGBT Network, which co-sponsors Pride Night with the Mets, how he felt when told about the team installing Chick-fil-A signage.

“Disappointed,” Kilmnick said. “I also know they are not the only team in baseball with such signage.”

Limiting sight lines while offending some of the team’s fans might not be the best way to win fans and influence people.

I wondered whether Kilmnick was planning to boycott Pride Night or stage protests.

“Not really,” he said. “When something like this happens, I don’t believe that’s the answer. To be fair, the Mets have been very supportive in our efforts to bring positive changes in the gay community.”

Kilmnick said this is an opportunity to educate people about how Chick-fil-A presents “a real danger to the community, supporting groups offering anti-gay ‘conversion therapy’ and other awful programs.”

Each of the past three years at Citi Field, Pride Night has attracted thousands of LGBT people. “It’s a great night at the ballpark of inclusion; the kiss cam is fun, and a portion of the proceeds support LGBT’s anti-bullying program in Long Island and New York City schools,” Kilmnick said.

I’ve never eaten at Chick-fil-A, but I imagine the chicken must be pretty tasty, considering the unexpected (if mixed) testimonials it receives. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, running to become the nation’s first openly gay commander in chief, recently said, “I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken.”

I asked Kilmnick whether he thinks the Mets will cover up the Chick-fil-A signs on Pride Night.

“Hey, who knows?” he responded, then chuckled. “Maybe they’ll drape a Rainbow Flag over the signs.”

 Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.