“I received a lot of flak from people — which I understand, because they don’t have a friendship with Dan, so there was a lot of misunderstanding. But just going to a college football game is not a bribe to me. If Dan wanted to bribe me . . . it wouldn’t be through football, [though] it’s something I enjoy watching. Clemson is who I wanted to win, and they did. I was excited to be there, but it was really about the friendship.
“I learned this lesson very early. I’m a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which is a large international fraternity, and . . . for my fraternity brothers when I came out in college back in the ‘90s, it was a big deal. They embraced me, they stood up for me, and that taught me a valuable lesson. I had assumed how our differences — some of them very strong in their faith which said that gay people are not worthy in many ways of human dignity or who had pretty strong views about certain issues — I made a lot of assumptions. [But] those same fraternity brothers, those friends, were some of my strongest allies. The reason is because we had built a relationship around activities and engagement that weren’t political . . . It was about: ‘Shane is in my frat, he’s my brother. And yes, he happens to be gay.’ They learned a lot and we still are close.
“That fraternity experience in many ways taught me valuable lessons about how to have fun and realize that people listen and hear in different ways. Not everyone is persuaded by a speech or a document that shows them what they’re doing right or wrong. And so Dan and I went to a football game just like my fraternity brothers and I would go out to dinner or we would go to events on campus like football or basketball games. That’s how you engage people, you engage them across common lines of friendship. That oftentimes happens in the most unexpected places.”
5. Let’s all be willing to give a little
“Giving a little is significant for many reasons. By giving a little it doesn’t mean changing your own values or acquiescing to a certain viewpoint. But Dan, I think, and I had a different way to look at this. I see that as an opportunity, Dan sees it as a blessing of growth— and that coming together we can listen and learn.
“Chick-fil-A still gives to some anti-marriage, anti-LGBT groups that I personally have a problem with. I have expressed that repeatedly to the press and to Dan personally, and I’ve shared why.
“At the end of the day, Chick-fil-A stopped donating to the most divisive, the anti-LGBT groups that were actively working to harm, hurt and defame LGBT families. Now, that’s a step in the positive direction. And that’s what I think giving a little is all about. Not to say Dan compromised, but he realized that from a political and social agenda standpoint, these groups were using rhetoric in very hateful ways, and that’s not what Jesus would do.
“Dan considers himself, in his faith and his ministry, to be a follower of Christ. He’s talked about how that is very different from being what some would call a ‘Christian’ today, because there’s many people who use that term ‘Christian,’ and Dan really tries through his life to be a follower of Christ. I have great respect and I’ve learned a lot from hearing that from Dan. In return, he has heard and experienced a blessing of growth through our relationship.