They hired people to protest for them.
It didn’t surprise me when the douche-iest presidential candidate, Donald Trump reportedly paid actors $50 to cheer for him at his 2016 announcement. (I especially liked one post I saw about this, someone photographed one of Trump’s employees collecting the “home made” signs and t-shirts from the actors afterward). But come on, if these are your sincerely held religious beliefs that us queers are evil or going to hell or luring other people into sin or whatever, you should have the stones to show up and protest. You don’t hire immigrant day laborers to be your poxies!
On the other hand, Vice reports from Los Angeles that, Protesting Against Gay Pride Was Super Boring. It does give me new appreciation for Jessica Willams’ report for the Daily Show last month about this being the end of a hate era: The Hate Class of 2015.
The Jewish groups outsourcing their hate got me searching for any more stories about protestors at the parade, and there were a few protests within some of the parades intended to remind us that there are still plenty of other civil rights battles left for the queer community. And there was a story of one protester at one of the smaller town parades yesterday who got his sign stolen by one of the parade marchers.
All the rightwing Christian sites had headlines yesterday about ‘thousands protesting gay pride parades’… except it was in Korea. They couldn’t come up with anything like that happening here.
Surveys show that at least 57% of Americans are in favor of gays marrying. And they also show that 63% think that gays should be legally allowed to marry (the discrepancy presumably meaning that about 6% of the population believing personally that gays oughtn’t marry, but that it shouldn’t be illegal for consenting adults to do it if they want to). Experience over the last decade has been that about a year after marriage equality becomes legal in a particular state, support for marriage equality jumps up by at least another 10%, with opposition shrinking. Lots of states have had marriage equality for a while, so the nationwide number probably isn’t going to jump that much, but it will jump.
When you add in the decades-long trend of support for any specific gay rights question increasing by about 2 percent a year, that 37% of the population sincerely and deeply opposed to it will just keep shrinking. I don’t know how tiny it will get, eventually. Will it be as infinitesimal as the percentage of people who think that women should have the right to vote taken away (estimated at less than two one-hundredths of a single percent)?
Maybe in a few generations. I think in the foreseeable future it’s going to drop down to about 22% and then hover there for a long time.
One may ask why is seems like all of the Republican presidential hopefuls went ballistically, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-gay starting on Friday when nearly two-thirds of Americans support marriage equality. The reason is that Republican primary voters are not at all representative of the country as a whole. Likely Republican primary voters oppose marriage equality at almost inverse rates of the population at large: 60% oppose, less than 30% support, and the rest are undecided.
Even the few Republican candidates who intend to try to sell themselves as moderates to the general electorate know that they have to get those hardcore haters to vote for them in the primaries in order to become the nominee. And let’s be frank, on most of the issues voters care about, all 16 or 17 or however many we’re officially up to now of the Republican candidates have extremely similar positions. Most of them have name recognition problems at this point in the campaign. The only way they can break out of the pack at this point is to latch onto something that some of those hardcore voters care deeply enough about to remember when the primaries actually roll around.
So despite the fact that a lot of the more mainstream Republican pundits and so forth were hoping that a Supreme Court win for the gays would finally take this issue away as a wedge issue that drives moderate voters to the Democrats, I don’t think they’re going to get their wish.
That’s the problem when you hitch your wagon to hate and anger.
And what is the nature of our triumph today? Well, it’s summed up really well in the closing paragraph of the decision:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
—Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority in the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality nation wide.
Our triumph is a love that may endure past death. Our triumph is equal dignity in the eyes of the law. Our triumph is not to be condemned to loneliness. Our triumph is a hope to find another person who we love and loves us in return, and together to become something greater than we were apart.
“Love your way through the darkness.”
Our society is a collection of customs and laws. Those laws exist for the times when customs are not enough to prevent injustice. Some people still claim that love doesn’t need legal protection. The love itself may not, but the people who share it sometimes do.
Sometimes things happen. Our health fails. There is an accident. And suddenly one member of a relationship is no longer able to make decisions for themselves. The law steps in at that time, and if our relationships aren’t recognized by the law, that means that instead of a person we have loved and shared our life with for decades making decisions about our health et cetera, that person is kicked out of our hospital room by bigoted relatives. The person we have loved and shared our life with may find themselves legally barred from entering the home we shared for those years. They may find themselves, like one old friend years ago had to, trying to prove in court that his clothes, personal belongings, and his own family photo albums were his, and not the property of his partner who had died in a car accident.
So while I believe in the power of love, and believe that the best way to get through darkness is love, I also believe in the power of the law. And I and my husband deserve to enjoy the law’s protection exactly the same as anyone else.
“The opposite of injustice is love.”
Not everyone is happy about this, and they can say some pretty irrational things while expressing their disagreement. Others try to act as if this disagreement doesn’t matter. Well, Eleven years ago… my friend Barb, beloved wife of my other friend, Kathy, wrote this essay that says much of what I want to say on that topic. It’s a really great post.
I don’t know when I first saw a painting by Frank Frazetta adorning a book. He had worked for many years in the comics industry, then began doing movie posters in the early 60s, and by the mid 60s he was painting cover art for paperback editions of Conan the Barbarian, John Carter of Mars, and numerous other similar sorts of fantasy book series. He became the go-to guy for that sort of book. And soon rock bands were licensing images for album covers or sometimes commissioning him to do an original work for an album.
His fantasy art style was described as primal and potent. He liked to call his work rough. He also freely admitted he didn’t read the books he created covers for—even when he was also paid to create pen and ink illustrations for the interior. He insisted that most of the people who bought the books didn’t really read them, either. I’m not sure if that was supposed to be an egotistical claim that the book covers were so great that people who didn’t read would buy them, or if he thought that only illiterate people were interested in the types of stories in the books (but if they were literally illiterate, what were they doing even looking at books?), or what.
I know that most of the books I owned that featured his artwork were picked up at used book stores. And they were almost always very worn, having had their pages turned a lot. Lots of people buy books to read only once then pass on. My experience with the other fantasy fans I hung out with during my teen years was that the folks who bought these books read them, re-read them, and re-read them again. We became obsessed, and would go back again and again.
I was reading them for the sense of adventure. For a chance to imagine a different world, where the bad guys were obvious, and the good guys would get back up no matter how often they were knocked down.
But I also spent a lot of time staring at cover art. Thinking about the world and the story, yes, but also wondering why the artist made this choice, or that. What was that thing in the bad guy’s hand supposed to be? That sort of thing.
I also had other, much less noble reasons for staring at the artwork. And for buying posters of some of the artwork to hang on my bedroom wall. Though I didn’t admit it. The artwork, particularly Frazetta’s wasn’t merely primal, potent, barbaric, and rough—it was also erotic.
My first week at university, the parents of my roommate showed up to visit. My roommate’s mother freaked out at this poster on my side of the room. I thought she was upset because of the naked man’s butt, or maybe she guessed that it was a “supernatural” picture (this was a Free Methodist university, and most folks there were quite rightwing conservative). The novel, The Book of Paradox was a sort of tarot-based fantasy, which I’m sure his mother would have labeled Satanic if she realized a battered paperback copy of it was sitting on the shelf above my bed in that same dorm room.
No, what she was angry about were the bare breasts on the winged creatures. I think I actually said out loud, “I forgot those were even there.” Because I literally had. They were obviously not the part of the painting that interested me.
My favorite Frazetta was “Atlantis,” which depicts a statue of some long forgotten warrior among flooded ruins. I know that part of my fascination was the presence of a near-nude male figure, as in so many others. But there was also something about the melancholy sense of determination in the face of great loss that spoke to me. The evocation of a great disaster that reduced the heroic exploits of generations of champions to a few vague remembrances alluded to in the stories of more recent adventurers. I wrote more than one story attempting to evoke the feelings that the picture gave me of a once mighty and noble people who had been stuck down by overwhelming, perhaps uncaring forces. I also used variants of this scene in a large number of roleplaying games I ran.
At the time I was doing everything I could to deny my attraction to other guys. Reading some of those hyper-masculine, pulpy adventures of barbarians and warriors seemed like the opposite of anything gay. Because, frankly, the only women who ever appeared in those stories were there as a prize to be won or a damsel to be rescued (or both). But I remember one friend commenting on just how often Edgar Rice Burroughs, for instance, mentioned that his various heroes were “half-naked.” At the time, I suggested that a lot of those stories had originally be written to be serialized in magazines. The writer had to re-introduce each character in each installment, for the benefit of readers just joining the tale, or to refresh the memories for those for whom it had been a month since reading the previous chapter.
Many years later, I’m not so sure. There were a lot of guys I knew back then who were all about my age that were really into these kinds of books. We lent each other copies of books we couldn’t afford or hadn’t found our own copy of. We talked about our favorite parts. Some of us bought posters of the book covers. We speculated about which ones would make good movies. We drew pictures of scenes from the stories. We tried to write similar stories of our own. In the years since, more than half of those guys have come out as gay or bisexual.
So maybe I wasn’t the only one who spent a lot of time staring at those cover paintings.
I hear or read it at least once each year as Pride weekend approaches (or shortly afterward when people post pictures of their local Pride parade): what’s there to be proud of? Usually followed up with comments to the effect that if we are born this way, then there isn’t anything we’ve done to be gay, so why be proud? Why can’t we just be ourselves and go about our day?
The answer is quite simple: because every moment of our lives—from before we were old enough to understand—society at large (including very nearly every single person who raised us, took care of us, taught us, lived beside us, et cetera) has told us again and again that “just being ourselves” is shameful. We have been told that our very beings were wrong. Our selves are a sickness to be cured, or a sin to be despised, or a shameful secret to be hidden. We’ve been bullied, harassed, tormented, shunned, and beaten because of who we are. We have been told (and often shown violently) that our lives don’t matter. We’ve been told we can’t love. We’ve been told that those of us who do fine love deserve what happens to us when the bashers and haters decide to make an example of us.
In a world that insidiously and relentlessly drums that message into us—driving many to attempt suicide as children (and sadly for many to succeed), browbeating us into hating ourselves—just openly being our selves is no small feat.
Merely surviving all of that and managing to piece together lives of authenticity is a monumental victory over incredible odds.
That’s what we have to be proud of.
I used to react to this question by just thinking that the person was clueless. And certainly cluelessness is a factor. But I’ve also realized that it’s just another manifestation of that most basic form of homophobia. “Can’t you just be who you are and not make a big deal about it” is exactly the same as “why do you have to shove it in our faces all the time” which is the equivalent of “go back into hiding where you belong.”
The saddest part of this is that those people don’t think they are being homophobic at all. And they never think about that fact that straight people “shove their sexuality” in everyone else’s face all the time. Have pictures of your spouse, significant other, or children on your desk, wall, or phone’s home screen? Mention your wife or husband in casual conversation? Comment on how hot a particular actor or actress is? Routinely ask about family discounts? Expect that, of course, your spouse will be included in the company health insurance plan? Invite us to your wedding or your kid’s straight wedding? Show us pictures of yours or your kid’s straight wedding? Ever use the phrase “no homo”?
Since we get accused of shoving our sexuality in your face if we merely casually mention the existence of our significant other, we get to count all of those things as you shoving your sexuality in our faces. Straight pride happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, yet you begrudge queer people (trans, lesbian, bisexual, gay, genderqueer, polyamorous, asexual, pansexual, gender fluid, intersexed, gender neutral, and those who love and support us) a parade once a year?
Why am I proud?
I’m proud because they tried to drown us in lies, and we’ve risen above to reveal our truth. I’m proud because they have beaten and tortured us in the name of faith, and we’ve found the strength to show the world our love. I’m proud because they tried to smother us with fear, but we found hope in the most unlikely of places. I’m proud because we have endured hate, which has taught us how to love better. I’m proud because we have fled the shadows, and showed the world our light. I’m proud because no matter how many times we’ve been knocked down, we have gotten back up.
Mat Staver is the head of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel, featured speaker at several Values Voter Summits over the years, a man who has gone to court many times defending laws that discriminate against gay people, and someone who as recently as June has testified to congress about why gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people shouldn’t be included in anti-discrimination law, and has many times on his radio show praised laws in places like Russia and Uganda that criminalize gay people and even talking about gay people. For example, last year he was on another radio show, ranting about those Christians who have said that gay rights and marriage equality are losing battles. “To assume that you can go against the created order is hubris, it’s arrogance, it’s dangerous and it is not something in which we can simply say, ‘the battle’s over, we need to figure out how to coexist.’ There is no coexistence.”
“There is no coexistence.” If he insists that his side can’t co-exist with us, that’s another way of saying either we have to cease to exist or he does, right? And I’m pretty sure he isn’t suggesting that all true believers (his side) should commit mass suicide.
When Staver says “there is no coexistence” that means he’s ultimately willing to kill. The reason Staver’s organization encourages things like Uganda’s kill-the-gays laws, and talks up the rhetoric of how dangerous we are to society is because he believes we should not be allowed to exist. Which means killing us. Or at least, scaring us with a credible enough threat of death that we all go back into the closet.
Just like the people who regularly go to Seattle’s old gayborhood (Police investigating weekend hate crimes on Capitol Hill) every weekend (‘Not one more’ — March strikes back at anti-queer violence on Capitol Hill), the aim isn’t to kill each and every queer person, it’s to scare the rest of us back into the closet. When rightwing Texas preacher Rick Scarborough announces that he’s willing to be burned to death to oppose gay marriage, he doesn’t mean that he’s going to set himself on fire; he wants to whip up fear and anger so that people who agree with him will do horrible things to some of us to frighten us into silence.
It’s the same tactics used by the hate leaders who radicalized Dylann Roof into shooting nine innocent people in a church in Charleston: making members of the majority believe that a historically oppressed minority somehow has all the power. Roof told the lone adult survivor of his shooting, “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and overrunning our country.” In a country where white police officers gun down unarmed black children in the street without facing murder charges, he believes that black people are the ones threatening the existence of white people.
Similarly, in a country where:
- 1500 queer children are bullied into committing suicide every year,
- where thousands of queer children are thrown out onto the streets by so-called Christian parents whose religious leaders have told them they have to show tough love,
- where the authorities don’t investigate those parents for child neglect,
- where the numbers of homicides of LGBT people have climbed to record highs,
- where more than half of hate-motivated murder victims are trans people of color,
- where state legislators are rushing to enact religious-belief based “right to discriminate” laws,
- where in most states it is perfectly legal for employers to fire someone simply because they think the person might be gay (and where landlords can evict gay tenants or refuse to rent to them, et cetera),
- where queer people are 2.4 times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than jews, and 2.6 times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than muslims,
- where the number of hate crimes against all groups except lesbian, gays, trans, and bi people is going down while all categories of anti-queer hate crimes remain the some or are rising,
- where the overwhelming majority of elected officials at the federal, state, and local level are Christian (far out of proportion to their percentage of the population),
- where state and federal tax dollars are funneled into “faith-based” charity organizations that are often allowed to discriminate in how they administer those tax-funded activities,
- where religious schools are often supported by tax dollars diverted from public schools,
- where high school kids are threatened with expulsion for wearing “Gay OK” t-shirts to school after a bunch of Christian bullies beat a gay classmate (but the bullies weren’t punished),
- where a public school teacher responding to an incident of anti-gay bullying read a book about acceptance to his class, then was forced to resign for “promoting homosexuality,”
- where Christian organizations rally and raise money to combat anti-bullying policies unless said policies include exemptions that allow their kids to bully gay kids in the name of their faith,
…Christians are claiming that queers are persecuting them.
Seriously? Not being able to bully, discriminate against, and torment their gay neighbors is oppression?
“How can someone be racist if they have friends who are Black?”
The same way serial killers can have friends who are alive.
— BrownBlaze (@brownblaze) February 20, 2015
When this tweet showed up in my twitter timeline (‘”How can someone be racist if they have friends who are Black?” The same way serial killers can have friends who are alive.’), I nearly spit my coffee all over my keyboard. It’s flippant, and an overly pedantic sort of person will try to argue about how bad an analogy it is, but it’s a brilliant way to encapsulate the idea that people are more than capable of contradictory behavior. And it’s funny—sometimes we need a little gallows humor to struggle with big, horrific events.
Those of us who are queer have to deal with the classic deflection from homophobic people all the time, “I don’t hate gay people, I have gay friends!” Just as a lot of us who have been caught up in the Hugo/Sad Puppy wank have been rolling our eyes about one of the leaders of said homophobic, misogynist, racist group who claims he can’t be racist because he’s married to a person of color. As if there has never been a male chauvinist who was married to a woman… Read More…
I linked to my post from a couple years ago about why some of us don’t feel like celebrating Father’s Day. But my particular reasons are exactly why I do think that people who have great dads need to tell their fathers (whether it’s their biological father, step-father, adoptive father, single-mom who had to be all the parents, or two mommies, or two daddies) how much you appreciate the great things that they did for you.
Because bad dads like mine are proof that being great isn’t automatic, it isn’t easy, and it isn’t guaranteed. So, here are a couple of appreciations:
Daddy Issues – After years of thinking my father couldn’t understand his gay son, I was surprised to find he accepted me in ways I never could have imagined possible. (Yes, this was in Friday links already, still good!)
The Correct Spelling Of Father:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here
Honest Conversations: Fathers and Their Gay Children:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here
It’s impossible at this time of year to avoid all the memes and heartfelt testimonials and emotionally manipulative articles about dads. Which is great for people who have wonderful dads and are happy to be reminded about how great a good father can be. It’s not so great for people who are grieving the loss of a father they loved. And it’s not so great for those of us who had terrible fathers.
I was lucky enough to have two incredible, wonderful, and loving grandfathers as well as an incorrigible (but still loving) great-grandfather who were all three very involved in my life throughout my formative years. And one of those wonderful grandfathers, my mom’s father, was her adoptive father. Not being her biological father didn’t diminish one iota the love he gave my mom and her sister (and me and the other grandkids). He did everything a dad was supposed to do and more.
Similarly, my great-grandfather was my grandma’s biological father, but he was also a step-dad to grandma’s oldest two brothers. Great-grandma was a 28-year-old widow with two young boys when she met and fell in love with great-grandpa (who, I should point out was only a 16-year-old farm hand). But even though he wasn’t that much older than those two kids, he did his best to be as good a father to them as he was to the other kids that he and great-grandma had together.
So I get more than a little angry when people (or stories or movies or TV shows) imply (or sometimes come right out and say) that step-parents or adoptive parents aren’t a kid’s “real parents.”
Which is why I want to share this little story (and angry op-ed) posted by Dan Savage earlier in the week: Brian Brown Suggests Terry and I Stole Our Son from His Biological Parents. Brian Brown is the head of the odious anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. Dan Savage is a national syndicated sex advice columnist and gay activist. But Dan and his husband, Terry, adopted their son as part of an open adoption years ago, and have raised that child while allowing (and encouraging him) to keep in contact with the biological mother who was a homeless street kid when she got pregnant. As Dan points out, there are far more orphaned children who need families in this country than there are straight couples looking to adopt. When you exclude unmarried people or lesbian/gay couples or other “non-traditional” families from the adoption process, the choice you are making is to leave those children with no parents at all.
It isn’t a choice of straight parents vs queer parents, or a mommy-and-daddy vs a single parent. It’s a choice of these so-called non-traditional parents or no parents. And note about the fact that not one but two traditional couples turned down the baby before Dan and Terry’s adoption paperwork was completed. So, the only people who deprived that kid of a “traditional” family of genitally-opposite parents were straight people.
I’m not a parent. I’ve never had kids and never adopted. But if I were a parent, and Brian Brown had come into my house and told me that he thought my child should be forcibly taken away from me just because I’m gay, I would have said a whole lot worse than what Terry said.
I know how easy it is to obsess over a horrific story like this. But the nine people who were murdered in a hateful act of racist terrorism in a historic church this week deserve to be remembered. And we can’t solve problems like racism if we don’t confront the problem.