Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. Credit: Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. Credit: Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. Credit: Chick-fil-A.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an interview published by The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sunday, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy credited, in part, a national Charlotte-based LGBT leader with his personal growth and understanding on LGBT issues.

Cathy and his company have been embroiled in controversy over the company’s positions on LGBT equality and their foundations’ support of anti-LGBT organizations and causes. But, Cathy told the Atlanta newspaper he’s ready to put the controversy behind him and “focus on customer service.”

Cathy hasn’t changed his personal views on marriage, but now says his company “has no place in the culture wars and regrets making the company a symbol in the marriage debate,” according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make,” Cathy told the Atlanta paper. “And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.

Journal Constitution writer Leon Stafford reports that Cathy credits Charlotte leader Shane Windmeyer with some of his evolving views.

“Cathy said he decided to step back from the gay marriage debate after prayer and conversations with co-workers and friends, including Shane Windmeyer, a gay supporter of marriage equality who helped Cathy understand why marriage was important to the gay community,” Stafford wrote.

Windmeyer has had an on-going relationship with Cathy since his organization, Campus Pride, announced a boycott of the fast food chain and later suspended it. Windmeyer says his conversations with Cathy helped push the company’s WinShape Foundation and Chick-fil-A Foundation to dramatically reduce the amount of money it gives to anti-LGBT causes. Earlier this month, qnotes reported on those changes.

“I still wouldn’t call Chick-fil-A a gay-friendly company, but I would say that our dialogues and conversation that Campus Pride has had has been a positive one. There is some, albeit small, progress there,” Windmeyer told qnotes in early March.

Windmeyer added, “It’s not always about winning or losing,” Windmeyer said. “It’s about having tough conversations we need to have with people who disagree with us but doing so in a way that creates understanding and creates care for each other.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.