CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A well-known gay activist who lives in Charlotte is getting a lot of attention for his unlikely friendship with the president of Chick fil-A.
There was a lot of talk last summer about Chick fil-A's donations to anti-gay organizations. Crowds of customers stood in long lines to show their support. People angry about the president of the chicken chain's vocal opposition to gay marriage staged a kiss-in.
Shane Windmeyer founded the Charlotte-based group "Campus Pride", that promotes equality on college campuses, helped lead the Chick Fil-A boycott.
“Back in July, Dan Cathy said some really hurtful things to the gay community,” Windmeyer said.
“Dan reached out and said can we talk about your concerns-- that’s where it started. There was, of course, distrust on my part; there’s caution about what the motivations were for that.”
He says the two have genuinely become friends, even attending the Chick Fil-A bowl together New Year's Eve.
“While he may never agree to marriage and my right to marry in North Carolina with my husband, that's okay. We can find some common ground around some other issues.”
Windmeyer says Cathy has already made important changes.
Chick Fil-A has stopped donating to the most divisive anti-LGBT organizations.
But he says he still won't eat at Chick-fil-A, and admits many in the gay community don't approve of his new friendship. Still, he views the relationship as important for progress.
“It’s important if you truly want to make a difference, to listen to opposing viewpoints and still stick to what you believe.”
NBC Charlotte asked Chick fil-A for a statement and they responded, “Our intent is to not support political or social agendas. This has been the case for more than 60 years. The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect and to serve great food with genuine hospitality.”