Tag Archive | religious right

Weekend Update 3/11/2017: Ex-gay torture, dark clouds, and darker motives

“Some people are like dark clouds, when they disappear, suddenly it's a sunny day.”

“Some people are like dark clouds, when they disappear, suddenly it’s a sunny day.”

I’m sure that someone will tell me (as they have when other infamous bigots have died) that I should not speak ill of the dead. I will point out that the one of the oldest recorded instances of a this admonishment (a Greek text from about 600BC) is more accurately translated as, “Of the dead, nothing spoken unless truthfully.” So in that spirit, let me say that a dark cloud has passed, NARTH Founder and Leader in Ex-Gay Torture Movement Joseph Nicolosi Dead at 70. And that I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment in this headline about this death: Ex-Gay Therapy Should Die With Its Pioneer, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.

Nicolosi is just one of many who have profited over the years with the torture and bullying of gay people, often driving them to suicide. He was most recently in the news in 2012 when he tried to sue the state of California to overturn their ban on so-called gay conversion therapy for children and teens. A lawsuit which he lost, thank goodness! And just because another old, hateful bigot has died I know it doesn’t mean that this particular type of oppression is going to end. I can just hope that this death will get is a little closer to that ending, all right?

And in case you don’t know why this practice needs to be banned everywhere, remember that the ex-gay therapists and programs prey on vulnerable youth, making money off their pain, suffering, and sometimes suicides. They use bad therapy including pornography, lies and scare tactics, and discredited medical practices.

The science is clear: so-called reparative therapy fuels self-hatred and depression, increases the risk of suicide, and has no effect on a person’s sexual orientation or desires. None.

Source: thedesmondproject.com/Homelessness-Info.html (Click to embiggen)

Joseph Nicolosi caused a lot of people—a lot of vulnerable children—pain and suffering and actually increased the odds they would commit suicide. His propaganda encouraged parents to kick their gay children out on the street, leading to more pain, suffering and death. And he profited from that pain and suffering. The organization he founded still profits from it. So, damn right I’m going to speak ill of the dead.

And the usual arguments why one shouldn’t speak ill (he’s not here to defend himself, think of his grieving family, et cetera) should all be overruled by the fact that there are thousands of dead queer kids who not only aren’t here, either, but had no one to defend them from Nicolosi and his fellow bigots. Their memory and their grieving families deserve the truth. And the truth is, the world is a slightly better place now that Nicolosi isn’t part of it.

And let’s not forget that Vice President Pence is a big advocate for so-called gay conversion therapy for children. So the fight goes on!


In completely unrelated news, The DOJ Just Called for the Firing of 46 Obama-Appointed U.S. State’s Attorneys, Including Preet Bharara. This was very abrupt, and included at least one such prosecutor who was specfically asked to stay on recently by both Donald and Sessions. A mass firing is unusual in itself, and the initial reports of this made it clear it was very disorganized. At least one of the prosecutors admitting that he learned of his firing from the news—not even from a reporter calling for a comment. Also, the Justice Department doesn’t have any replacement prosecutors ready to nominate.

Which leads one to ask what the rush is. And a few people have spoken up: Feinstein: Trump’s firing of US attorneys hurts independence, and Trump “fires” 46 U.S. attorneys: standard practice or outrage? Yesterday’s round up of links included Trump Knows the Feds Are Closing In on Him – The president’s recent tweets aren’t just conspiratorial gibberish – they’re the erratic ravings of a guilty conscience. And that’s not all: Ukrainian attorney calls for probe into text message claims that Paul Manafort ‘knowingly’ had people killed or Connecting Trump’s Dots to Russia or Donald Trump panics over Russia: Jeff Sessions, Priebus, Bannon all huddled at Mar-a-Lago. Hence the weird claims about illegal wiretapping under Obama that went so far that a Fox News correspondent even called them false!

It’s becoming clear that there is more than enough evidence to indict a lot of Donald’s inner circle over various criminal charges, many of which border on treason. And if such an investigation got enough core Republican voters up in arms, Congress might actually do their job and start investigation the president himself. Getting rid of a lot of experienced federal prosecutors who are, by law, supposed to operate somewhat independently is one way to decrease the chances such a thing will come to pass.

It’s also yet another tin-pot dictator move, which this administration keeps doing again and again.

Devils in very poor disguises

Pastor Manning's church sign in the news again: “Tribulation Trump is one nasty cracker possibly having sex with Ivanka.”

Pastor Manning’s church sign in the news again: “Tribulation Trump is one nasty cracker possibly having sex with Ivanka.”

It’s been a while since I’ve written about James David Manning, the “pastor” of the infamous Harlem hate church with the notorious hateful church sign. The church is currently in default of taxes, water, and sewage bills far in excess of a million dollars and fighting a losing battle over those fees and a bunch of zoning violations to have its building seized. Manning made the news briefly last year when he endorsed Trump for president, and his church sign claimed that Jesus would endorse Donald, as well. A while later, he withdrew the endorsement, because Donald indicated that the murderer who perpetrated the mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse, was a bad person. Can’t condemn the murders of queer people and still be a christian, now, can one?

“Jesus would endorse Donald Trump,” Manning's sign proclaimed last sprint. “Vote Trump make Harlem beautiful again.”

“Jesus would endorse Donald Trump,” Manning’s sign proclaimed last spring. “Vote Trump make Harlem beautiful again.”

Then, he seemed to flip back to endorsing Donald when he took some of the candidate’s statements to indicate it would be legal for christians to shoot Mexicans, muslims, and liberals.

It boggles my mind that someone can claim to be a follower of Jesus while spewing such hate. I mean, seriously, being overjoyed at murder? Looking forward to committing murder with impunity yourself?

What boggles even more is that people who claim to believe in the man who said “love thy neighbor as you love thyself” will follow these hatemongers and proclaim them great faith leaders.

We have people like Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio saying things like ‘The Real Brownshirts Are In The Homosexual Movement’. That’s pretty rich coming from a guy who was removed from one of this jobs at the American Family Association because his anti-semitic and anti-muslim comments raised a bit of an uproar too close to a Republican fundraising event in 2015.

Then there’s Scott Lively Scott Lively: Trump Must Ban Gays From Intelligence Agencies Because They’re Conspiring Against Him. Lively is currently involved in a lawsuit for crimes against humanity (I kid you not), because he gave encouragement and material assistance to get Uganda to pass kill-the-gay laws. And that’s some of the least insane evil stuff he’s been involved in. But he’s the president of Abiding Truth Ministries, so he is, of course, hailed as a Christian leader.

“The bible condemns Trump’s acceptance of sodomy and I withdraw my support. Sodomy is more dangerous than jihadis.”

“The bible condemns Trump’s acceptance of sodomy and I withdraw my support. Sodomy is more dangerous than jihadis.”

I’m not sure what has prompted Manning to turn on Trump again this week. There’s probably a new sermon up on his youtube channel explaining it, but I can’t deal with listening to any more of his hate and craziness. I have to admit that I kind of like the nickname “Tribulation Trump” for Donald. But I’m sure that Manning will flip-flop back to loving Donald again, he just needs to do something hateful enough that Manning recognizes him as a fellow devil, again.

There are even more poorly disguised devils in the news, of course. Yesterday a lot of people, particularly right-leaning news and blogging folks, were being shocked, shocked to learn that Milo Yiannopoulos has argued in favor of adults having sexual relationship with underage teen-agers. He has specifically insisted that this is not only good, but tried to claim that it is normal in the homosexual community. All of which is BS, but really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. It’s not as if he hasn’t said this sort of thing many times before. Nor is it at all inconsistent with his other attitudes.

So let’s unpack that a little. In the past, Milo has espoused a lot of undeniably racist opinions. He has orchestrated harassment campaigns against women, particularly women of color. He has encouraged violence against trans people. He has excused actual calls for genocide from some of his neo-nazi friends. He has advocated so-called “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” He has previously made sexual references to teen age boys. But it is only when he has specifically advocated for adult men having sexual relationships with 13-year-old boys that the Republican party, the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference, his fellow writers & editors at Breitbart, Bill Maher, and Simon & Schuster are objecting? In other words, all of those people and institutions are okay with racism, misogyny, transphobia, hate crimes, and genocide.

Let me repeat that: the Republican party, conservatives who organize CPAC, Breitbart writers & editors, Bill Maher, and the publishing house of Simon & Schuster don’t just turn a blind eye, they happily endorsed racism, misogyny, transphobia, hate crimes, and genocide. When people show you who they are you should believe them.

Also, it seems a lot of people are easily fooled by someone who says outrageous things when those outrageous things are attacks on people they dislike.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

“Neo-Nazi: a member of an extreme right-wing political group that has ideas similar to those of Adolf Hitler's Nazi parting, including hatred of jews and people of non-white races...”

“Neo-Nazi: a member of an extreme right-wing political group that has ideas similar to those of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, including hatred of jews and people of non-white races…”

So I’ve seen some admonishments going around along the lines of, “stop calling everyone who disagrees with you a Nazi!” and other variants of the good ol’ Godwin’s Law1. Never mind that Godwin himself said, “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.” I’ve specifically run into this admonishment lately in discussions about various people who have been advocating various racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and homophobic opinions along with laws and policies intended to harm people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

In other words, there are a lot of public figures and pseudo-celebrities and wannabe pundits out there who are advocating neo-Nazi opinions and neo-Nazi policies, but we aren’t allowed to call them Nazi. Because that’s rude. Or it’s hyperbole. Or something.

Never mind that these proponents of opinions and policies that exactly (sometimes word-for-word) repeat actual neo-Nazi publications and demands Have previously called any woman who objected to their sexist pronouncements “feminazis.” Or that any of us who called out their racist or misogynist or homophobic statements were called “PC-nazis.” And then if we objected to that, they would make arguments about why the word “nazi” isn’t actually an insult. When it’s used back at them, suddenly we’re the ones who have crossed a line.

Some of these guys have demanded apologies, and even gotten retractions from some publications, insisting that just because they have said things like “In response to concerns from white voters that they’re going to go extinct, the response of the Establishment—the conservative Establishment—has been to openly welcome that extinction” or “Behind every racist joke is a scientific fact” or “some degree of separation between races is necessary for a culture to be preserved” that it is ridiculous to think that means they’re white nationalists or neo-nazis. We’re the bad guys for even suggesting such a thing! They aren’t bad guys for advocating forced deportment or relocation or so-called “peaceful ethnic cleansing3

Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, has called for at least the separation of people by race, ethnicity, and religion. He has also spouted various racist, misogynist, and transphobic beliefs. He has sent hordes of his internet followers to harass women with rape threats and racist attacks. He has said all sorts of awful and false things about trans people and has encouraged his fans to attack and harass them. And not just in general, he has handed out private address and contact information of specific trans people and suggested that someone should teach them some manners.

Yiannopoulos then defends himself by insisting that he’s simply stating an opinion. And besides, he’s gay, so how could he possibly be a bigot? Not only is he gay, but he’s white gay man who only has sex with black men, so he can’t possibly be racist (never might that racial fetishization is deeply entwined with racial hatred). And by the way, he doesn’t endorse all the white nationalist policies of a bunch of his friends (even though he frequently makes some of the same arguments they do), he just thinks they’re interesting people. So it’s wrong to call him a white nationalist or a neo-nazi of a nazi sympathizer.

Bull.

He’s an editor of a news site which describes itself as the platform of the alt-right. The alt-right is a term coined by white supremacist Richard Spencer in order to make white supremacy seem more like just another political option4. He argues racial opinions of white nationalist are reasonable–not just that they have the right to hold the racist opinions, but that those statements are fact rather than opinion. He attacks people on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or gender identity. He defends not just the right of the neo-Nazis and white nationalist to hold their opinions, but he actively campaigns to write those opinions into law. One day those same white nationalists who currently enjoy having his support may well turn on him, just as the historical Nazis eventually rounded up their own gay members and executed or imprisoned them. But right now he’s a white nationalist and a nazi-apologist. That’s a fact.

Then there are the people who angrily argue that they aren’t defending neo-nazis or white supremacists just because they are telling people like me to shut up about them. Seriously. “You must let them advocate genocide without calling them on it” isn’t defending them? Of course, the most recent person to send me that message personally also slipped in two bigoted dog whistles5 before I blocked him

Then, of course, there are the free speech arguments. Okay, I’m an advocate for free speech. You have the right to your opinion, and you have the right to express it. But I, as a private citizen, am under no obligation to give you a platform. I am under no obligation to sit quietly and listen. I am certainly under no obligation to sit quietly and listen while you advocate policies that will cost me my job, my home, and my health care. I’m allowed to argue. I’m allowed to boycott. I’m allowed to call you a neo-nazi. I’m allowed to shun and shame people who enable your advocacy of hate.

“Some people's idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but it anyone says anything back that is an outrage.” — Sir Winston Churchill

“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but it anyone says anything back that is an outrage.” — Sir Winston Churchill

Disagreement is not censorship. Boycotting is not censorship. Shunning is not censorship. Calling you a bigot or similar is not censorship. Calling you an idiot is not censorship. Staging a protest when you come to my community to preach your hate is not censorship. Boycotting businesses that give you a platform to preach your hate is not censorship. Repeating word-for-word things you say (particularly if you go on TV or stand up on a stage to address supporters) is not censorship nor misrepresenting you. Pointing out which of your statements are factually wrong is not censorship. Even going so far as to call you a liar (particularly when it has been documented numerous times that you repeat false information again and again) is not censorship.

Free speech means you can express your opinions if you like. Free speech does not mean that those opinions have to be taken seriously, or treated reverently, or accepted without argument.

To circle back to the original point, if you:

  • repeat neo-nazi and white supremacist slogans,
  • advocate the same programs of racial, ethnic, religious, misogynist, and/or homophobic discrimination and oppression as neo-nazis and white supremacists,
  • attack anyone who disagrees with neo-nazi and white supremacist proposals or hate speech,
  • thank the avowed neo-nazis and white surpremacists when they repeat your words and deeds and hold you up as an example on their white supremacist video blogs, news sites, and/or conferences,
  • are publicly and unapologetically friends with neo-nazis and white supremacists after they have repeatedly (often in your presence) called for the extermination of people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity,

then you are a neo-nazi. And no one should apologize for calling you a bigot, a nazi, a white nationalist, a white supremacist, or a nazi sympathizer. Because you are all of those things. And that is a fact.


Footnotes:

1. Godwin’s Law was first articulated by author and attorney Mike Godwin: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, if an argument goes on long enough, someone will eventually evoke the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, et cetera. While it is phrased as if it were a law of mathematics, it’s really just an adage based on observation2. As Godwin himself has stated, it was intended as a tool to remind people not to resort to unnecessary hyperbole. He also wanted people to not trivialize the Holocaust. He has pointed out on several occassion that sometimes such comparisons are quite apt.

2. Godwin’s Law gets abused a lot. People have interpreted it to mean that if someone ever makes a comparison to Hitler, naziism, et cetera, that this immediately invalidates all of their arguments. Part of this comes from rules that were established on some Usenet groups in the 1990s by which if a thread reached the Hitler comparison, the thread would be ended. Note that this was a convention that some people chose to adopt. Godwin’s Law is not an actual law nor does it articulate anything that even approaches a logical fallacy.

3. This oxymoronic term is deployed frequently and unironically by actual neo-Nazis such as Richard Spencer, the president of a literal white supremacist “think tank” among other things. He has also called for non-peaceful ethnic cleansing, for example: “humanity doesn’t need the Black man, and having concluded that, we must decide how efficiently to dispose of them.”

4. There some subjects upon which people can legitimately disagree. Details of tax policy, for instance. But when one side is literally calling for the mass murder of the other side (or mass incarceration, or denial of fundamental human rights), then we are no longer talking about a disagreement.

5. Dog-whistle: coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. For instance, in American politics the phrase “states’ rights” seems to be a mere reference to the Constitutions delineation of some powers and rights belonging the states (and other to the people or to the federal government), but signaled the politician’s commitment to segregation and institutionalized racism. “Real Americans” is frequently used to refer to conservative white Christians. Similarly, calls to “cut entitlements” are understood by the target audience to mean that “undeserving minorities” will be kicked off public assistance (when it fact it means that everyone will lose their benefits in order to funnel more tax money to the uber-rich and corporations).6

6. The dog-whistles in question in this particular exchange made it clear the guy arguing with me was both anti-semitic and homophobic. I thanked him for identifying himself just before blocking him.

Resistance Report

©2017 Mike Luckovich: String theory AJC.com

©2017 Mike Luckovich: String theory AJC.com

I’m not going to watch the inauguration. I don’t particularly feel like even appearing to be cheering while a facist ignoramous is sworn in and begins to dismantle everything that actually makes America worth living in.

I recognize that most of my readers are just as troubled by this development as I am. And you’re probably all as tired of being outraged over it. So instead of including all of the following links in my usual Friday round-up, I’m doing separate posts. Behind the “Read More…” link below, you’ll find posts related to the new occupant of the White House and his enablers, the Congressional Republicans. On the other hand, if you want the mostly trump-free Friday Links, go there instead.
Read More…

Queer Thanksgiving

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)

Not everyone has family to be thankful for. Or should I say, not every family is thanks-worthy? The video I’m linking below focuses particularly on queer people of color, and I don’t want to detract from that message at all—but many of us pale queers have families of origin that are less than welcoming to the point of toxicity. There are reasons that I have severely limited the amount of contact I have with some branches of the family.

This year we came very close to canceling the Thanksgiving trip, because the anti-Hillary/pro-Trump talk in general seems to have encouraged the most bigoted relatives to go all in on the anti-gay talk on social media. Since the big extended family get-together no longer happens, we don’t usually have to deal with any of the actually toxic family members. Instead we’re left with the odd thoughtless/unintentional comments that slowly make your blood boil. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with wonderful, supportive friends in Seattle, and the invitations were very tempting, but we’ve decided to give the trip to my Mom’s place another go.

We’ve just arranged the trip so we don’t need to stay all day.

Anyway, I hope that you can have a toxin-free holiday. And we may throw a spontaneous Second Thanksgiving later this weekend if we think we need a brain-rinse!

Queer Thanksgiving:

“The holidays are here — which for most people means lots of food and lots of family. But for many queer and trans people of color, the word “family” means something entirely different.”

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Imagining hope

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”—James Madison

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”—James Madison

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that ordinarily my optimism is almost pathological. I knew when I wrote yesterday’s post that I was in the pit of despair. Or, as another friend described it, metaphorically in a fetal position.

This is not a post where I’m going to tell you I’m getting over it.

I’m still more than worried, and it isn’t idle anxiety. Trump’s running mate is a man who signed a so-called Religious Freedom bill when he was governor of Indiana that explicitly gave people and corporations the right to refuse to obey laws that conflicted with their religious beliefs. That means that an employer can decide not to offer health coverage to same sex partners of their employees. That means an employer can literally fire someone explicitly because they are queer and the employee can’t sue and that state can’t otherwise penalize the company.

Last year, before any judges appointed by someone like Trump were on the Supreme Court, the Court ruled that a private company could refuse to pay for birth control as part of the health care benefits for its married employees if it cited religious objections. And Trump has promised to appoint judges recommended by an anti-gay and anti-abortion group. And he has an open seat to fill.

Other Republicans have been itching to pass a law like the Indiana Religious Freedom law, but they haven’t because they knew Democrats in the Senate would try to derail it, but more importantly that Obama would veto it. But Obama is only going to be there for a couple of more months. So they can pass such a law, and suddenly people like me start losing our rights.

So when someone tells you that we’re fearmongering and gay marriage isn’t going to go away, tell them they aren’t paying attention. Maybe the marriage equality ruling isn’t going to be reversed right away, but if people, including government employees, corporations, and so forth, are free to discriminate (free to withhold legal rights, et cetera) against queer people who have gotten married under the ruling, the ruling stops meaning anything.

Texas has already tried to assert that the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t obligate them to extend health benefits to the spouses and children of same sex couples who have gotten married. Think about what states like that are going to do when the U.S. Justice Department is headed by Rudy Guillianni instead of someone appointed by a pro-equality President.

And this is just one of the millions of ways that a Trump administration can make life hell for queer people. Or people who want or need birth control (some of the people in Trump’s transition team have, in previous parts of the political career, argued that straight married people shouldn’t have a right to birth control). Or women who file sexual harassment claims. Or…

So there are very good reasons for a lot of us to be scared.

I said yesterday that I plan to fight, and I do. And I know a lot of other people plan to, too. But it isn’t going to be easy. We’re going to be suffering the death of a thousand cuts, all of us will be, and at the same time trying to defend each other.

I know that I’m going to find my hope again. I’m getting by right now by imagining what it will feel like to have hope back. I know how it feels to be confident in the justice of my cause. I know how it feels to be determined not to back down. I know how it feels to be righteously outraged at injustice. I know how it feels to feel strong enough to stand up. And I got through a day of going into work and trying to act as if everything is fine by imagining that I was that person feeling those things.

It really does feel as if I’m a character in one of my own stories, at the moment. I’m imagining how a character who feels these things would act, and then trying to do it. It’s a little bit surreal.

I know that I’ll get past the point of faking it. I know that I will start to feel able to step up and face the opposition. I’m just not emotionally there, yet. And I’m not the only one.

Stop saying ‘We’ll get through this’ because not everyone will

“Let's be clear about our choice. When we raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, no one dies. When we cut Social Security and Medicare, people die.” —Annabelle Park

“Let’s be clear about our choice. When we raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, no one dies. When we cut Social Security and Medicare, people die.” —Annabelle Park

Whether you believe that Trump is going to try to do any of the many contradictory, sometimes unConstitutional, things he promised, one thing is very clear: Congressional Republicans will repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they have a whole mess of other social programs they want to cut. That means at least 20,000,000 people will lose their health insurance. Conservative estimates are that from the loss of the Affordable Care Act alone, at least 10,000 people who would have otherwise lived will die each year because of inadequate health care. And other cuts will make that even worse.

Trump and the Republicans have vowed to roll back protections for queer people, especially trans people. They’ve also vowed to fight efforts to raise the minimum wage, cut funding for health care, roll back work safety laws, and many other things which will result in an increase in injuries, financial stress, and preventable illnesses—ultimately leading to even more deaths.

Since Trump’s campaign gained momentum, there has been a slight increase in hate crimes. If the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom is any indication, there is going to be an even bigger increase in hate crimes now that certain people feel their views are validated by this vote. Oh, and the Republicans want to repeal hate crime laws and/or cut back on federal agencies tracking and investigation of hate crimes. So more people injured and yes, even killed.

I can keep going, but you should be getting the idea by now.

Stop saying that it’s going to be all right or that we’re going to get through this. Especially stop saying it if you are straight, cisgender, male, and/or white, because while maybe you will get through the next few years, you’re also not at risk to the same degree as many of the rest of us.

While we’re at it, if you’re one of the people lecturing others to remain calm, and not to place blame, and so forth? Again, stop. Just stop. Many of us are literally in danger of losing our livelihoods, various legal rights, and much more. We are allowed to blame people who have put us in this danger.

Some of us are in a fight for our lives, now. Yes, I fully intend to fight for my rights, but that means kicking up a fuss. That means confronting people. That means doing the opposite of calming down or making nice.

If you’re dismayed by this election; if you’re sitting there in shock because you can’t believe your fellow Americans can be this shortsighted, that they would embrace (or at least enable) hate? Welcome to our world.

As a queer man I’ve been feeling that dread, despair, and the knot of anxiety in my gut off and on my whole life. Not every moment. For example, just four years ago I was feeling the exact opposite when a majority of voters in my state voted for marriage equality. But that punch of bewildered injustice and a fundamental sense of vulnerability happens. It happened on June 12 this year as news of the mass shooting at a queer nightclub in Orlando spread across the world. It happens when legislatures pass and governors sign anti-queer laws and laws that ban queer rights ordinances and all the rest.

I wish I could tell you it gets better. I completely understand the impulse to tell each other that we’ll get through this, I do. I wish I didn’t know the facts that some of us actually won’t. I wish I could believe that if we just calm down and make nice that we’ll get through this and be better people for it.

Yes, if we stick together and hold each other and watch out for each other and fight with whatever tools we find we’re left with, some—maybe even most—who endure this will find new strength. But there is going to be a lot of pain and disappointment and loss along the way. Real loss.

I buried too many friends in the 80s and 90s because of homophobia and a smug indifference because “it’s just faggots” and “they brought it on themselves.” When Trump talks about losers, for instance, when he says that he prefers heroes who don’t get captured during war time he’s expressing that same hatred and indifference, just aimed at a wider audience. And if he and his followers can direct it at decorated veterans and the parents of soldiers killed in combat, that means they’ll just as soon direct it at you, too. Whoever you are.

I’m not offering comfort. I can’t, right now, even see the dim distant possibility of a glimmer of hope. And that’s saying something, because usually my optimism is almost pathological.

And I’m not asking for comfort. Neither am I asking to be left alone. I’m asking for a pledge that you will stand up against this, too. We can’t rely on hope. We must rely on each other.

Oppressed oppressors: make America great like it was before The Homosexuals…

Face the Nation did a segment this weekend where they interviewed some Trump supporters and it was… special: Trump supporter tells CBS: He will make America great again like it was before ‘the homosexuals’. We’ll come back to the bit that made it into the headline. I’m just continually confused by people like these (and a whole bunch of my rightwing relatives), who keep insisting that Trump is the Christian candidate. Insisting that Trump is going to lead the country to a place of morality (with the corollary claim that the country is deeply immoral now).

So they want to elect a serial philandering racist tax cheat who scams retirees out of their Social Security checks with a fake university, breaks contracts and refuses to pay his bills without a hint of remorse, and brags about walking into dressing rooms filled with naked fifteen-year-olds.

I just don’t quite understand how anyone can make a statement with a straight face, as the woman in the Face the Nation video does, about a time “before abortions and the homosexuals.”

Humans have been performing abortions since ancient times. There’s a section of the old testament (that gets mistranslated rather hilariously), which instructs husbands who believe their pregnant wives have been unfaithful to take the women to the temple so that the rabbis can abort the baby, for instance. Abortion was happening in the U.S. at an alarming rate in the 1950s and 1960s when it was illegal, for instance: 200,000 to 1.2 million per year, resulting in as many as 5,000 American women dying annually as a direct result of unsafe abortions.

And queer people have been around for as long as there have been people. And humans are not the only species on the planet with queer members.

What she and people like her really mean, of course, is not a time before queer people existed, but a time when queer people weren’t treated as human. When we could be fired, thrown in jail, and so on just because of who we loved. When there were arcane laws that made it illegal for a bartender to knowingly serve alcohol to more than one homosexual (yes, the laws actually said it was okay to have one fag in your bar at a time, but no more!).

But it wasn’t just that queers were beaten to death with impunity and subject to jail time and fines for who they loved. In many states and towns it was literally illegal for women to wear pants in public or for men to wear a dress (one of those laws in a town in New Jersey wasn’t overturned until 2014, by the way!). And the laws were usually pretty vague. It was a crime to appear “in public a clothing not belonging to his or her sex.” Which makes me wonder about the sort of suit jacket thing the woman in that video is wearing, no?

Remember it was also illegal in most states for a woman to refuse sex to her husband until such laws began to be repealed in the 1970s. Note: even if a couple were in the midst of a divorce, legally separated, and the husband broke into the home the wife was staying in and forced himself on her, she couldn’t charge him with rape. Heck, under current law some states there has to be proof of physical violence of an aggravated level before it can be called rape.

And it was a time when it was illegal in many places for people of different races to marry.

And these things are all related. There are reasons that abortion rulings were referenced in early court cases about sodomy laws. Ultimately, laws about abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and even how people dress are all about making sure that some people’s bodies (women, racial minorities, religious minorities, sexual minorities) are under the control of other people (white Anglo Saxon Protestant men). In that time before The Homosexuals, America was not a place where woman could dress as they wished, where woman could kiss or refuse to kiss who they wished, or where anyone outside of very narrow definitions or situations could love or get intimate with another consenting adult.

It wasn’t a better time for anyone who wasn’t a straight, cisgender, white guy… or a person considered under their protection (control).

Oppressed Oppressors: Not all Christians…

Protestors and counter protestors at a gay pride parade. © Patrick Carlson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/48018335@N06/)

Protestors and counter protestors at a gay pride parade. © Patrick Carlson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/48018335@N06/)

Just last week I was building up a head of steam over a topic, trying to write a blog post about it, and then I saw Dara’s post on the same topic, and it helped me focus on the important part to write my own post, and linking to hers. And it’s happened again: what next, New York Times – a story about how the old Nazis feel “cut off” in Germany? The title alone is very close to the one sentence I comment I had on the New York Times article in question when I included it in Friday Links. And she nails it.

The New York Times article tries to sell us a sob story about those evangelical Christians who have run afoul of anti-discrimination laws or otherwise been called out for their bigoted behavior. The NYT wants the reader to feel sorry for these people who just want the right to discriminate against gay people, and who wish that it was still illegal for gay people to be openly gay, and so forth. America has changed so quickly, they lament! Why, oh why does no one understand their pain?

On Dara’s blog a NALT1 Christian chimed in being all offended at being compared to Nazis. He claimed that he didn’t know any Christians who were pushing an anti-gay agenda, or certainly that there aren’t any now. Maybe decades ago, sure, but not now.

First, the self-identified Christians quoted in the NYT article are actively pushing an anti-gay agenda right now. That’s how they got into the situation they are in.

Second, more than one of those folks claiming to be Christian who are quoted in the article, explicitly and implicitly say more than once that people who aren’t anti-gay aren’t Christian. And they are hardly the first to do so.

Third, every business that has run afoul of anti-discrimination laws by denying service or otherwise discriminating against queer people have been defended by lawyers from the Liberty Counsel, an explicitly Christian non-profit organization that includes multiple references to their Christian affiliation in every public statement. In fact, every single anti-gay initiative, referendum, or law that has been pushed in the last three decades, has been championed by Christian organizations such as the Liberty Council, the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, the Catholic League, Abiding Truth Ministries, the American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, the Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, the Traditional Values Coalition, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera2. And every politician who has defended anti-trans/anti-gay/anti-lesbian laws and policies has made references to their sincerely held Christian beliefs as the reason why they are pushing the anti-queer policies.

It is simply not plausible that anyone paying any attention whatsoever to the controversies over marriage equality, trans bathroom bills, anti-bullying campaigns in schools, so-called conversion therapy, and so forth to not have noticed all the scripture quoting, Bible thumping, and God invoking that has been done to justify the anti-queer actions. So, I call BS on the guy trying to claim that he has no knowledge of any reason us queers would feel targeted by Christians.

Fourth, every queer person I know over the age of 30 has had at least one bad experience being bullied, harassed, bashed, or otherwise mistreated by someone doing it in the name of Christ. Each and every one of us. That’s a whole lot of coincidences, if you’re going to insist that’s all it is.

So, yes, I am well aware that not all Christians are like that, but some are. And it isn’t just a few. It isn’t queer people like me giving Christianity a bad name, it’s self-proclaimed Christians like Mike Huckabee, Scott Lively, Gov. Pat McCrory, Judge Roy Moore, Rev. Franklin Graham, Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Joel Osteen, Congressman Rick W. Allen, and so on. And it’s the tens of thousands of self-proclaimed Christian voters who support anti-gay politicians like Roy Moore, Pat McRory, and Rick Allen. It’s the millions of self-proclaimed Christian voters who selected delegates to the Republican National Convention which this year passed literally the most viciously anti-queer political party platform ever in the history of the U.S.

If you don’t like being called a bigot3, stop acting like one. And stop scolding people who accurately point out bigoted actions when we see them. And stop defending bigots when they claim that they’re the victims because sometimes they get pushback when they say and do bigoted things. And stop writing whiny articles about the terrible predicament of bigots who aren’t allowed to practice their bigotry with utter impunity any longer.


Footnotes:

1. NALT = Not All Like That. People who decide to scold queer people any time we talk about being mistreated, discriminated against, or bashed by other folks claiming to be Christian. Usually they try to imply that we’re giving Christians a bad name, and we shouldn’t do that. They don’t take too kindly to it when we point out that we’re not the one’s ruining Christianity’s reputation, it’s their co-religionists. Nor do they ever seem brave enough to take the advice that if they want the world to stop equating bigotry with Christianity, then they should be scolding the bigoted Christians.

2. If you want to know more about these groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has nice historical write-ups about these and other hate groups.

3. And stop trying to claim that being called a bigot is the equivalent of passing laws to criminalize our relationships, to allow us to be fired for who we love, et cetera.

Three months later, Pulse shooting still a gut punch

“Can you put your finger on the common denominator?” © Matt Wuerker, Politico cartoonist http://www.universaluclick.com/editorial/mattwuerker

“Can you put your finger on the common denominator?” © Matt Wuerker, Politico cartoonist http://www.universaluclick.com/editorial/mattwuerker

Three months ago, an angry homophobe walked into an Orlando, Florida gay night club and murdered 49 people, wounding 53 more. It was a Saturday night during Queer Pride month, and it was specifically Latinx Night at that club. The homophobe had spent time in the days before the massacre staking out the location. He had created a fake profile on a gay hook up app before that for the express purpose (based on the recovered chats) of finding out what the busiest gay nightclubs were in his community1. It was a planned hate crime.

The homophobe decided to buy an assault rifle to kill as many queers as he could after seeing two men kissing in public. The shooter’s own father was shocked at how angry his son had become when he saw that.

Three months later, reading about this still feels like a punch in my gut. I’m an out queer man who grew up in redneck communities during the 60s and 70s. I have always had the moment of fear any time I am out in public with my husband any time we show any affection. I have a specific incident where I know my husband was threatened with violence after we exchanged a quick kiss when I dropped him off at a bus stop years ago. It’s a dread calculation I find myself making whenever we are out with friends: is it all right if I call him “honey,” or will we get harassed? Can I safely say, “I love you,” or will we get threatened?

Thanks to this shooting, there’s now a new layer of fear and anxiety on that. Not just that I and my husband might be in danger, but that our actions might set off another bigot who will go murder a bunch of queer people.

Some people will ask, “It’s been three months; are you still upset about this?” And yes, people will actually ask. I know this because the day after the massacre happened people who I used to think were my friends were angry at me for being upset about the shooting.

Other people have much more immediate reasons not to forget: Last hospitalized survivor of Pulse nightclub shooting discharged. And now that he’s finally able to leave the hospital, Pulse nightclub shooting survivor plans return to New Orleans for recovery. Even though he’s out of the hospital, he’s got more recovery to do. As many of the other survivors are still going through physical therapy and otherwise trying to recover health and mobility that was taken from them.

There’s other kinds of fall-out still happening: State slaps $150,000 fine on security firm that employed Orlando Pulse shooter. The company isn’t being fined for anything directly related to the massacre. No, while authorities (and journalists) were investigating, the psychological evaluation he had undergone to get his security job was publicized. And people tried to contact the doctor whose name was on the evaluation. The problem was, she had stopped practicing more than a decade ago, had moved out of state, and hadn’t performed any evaluations for the employer since. At least 1500 employees were incorrectly listed has having been examined by the retired doctor during those ten years.

The state agency that investigated believes that all of those people were evaluated and passed, just that the wrong doctor was listed on their records. Over a thousand times. Over the course of ten years. Isn’t that reassuring?

I mean, a single psych eval doesn’t guarantee anything, particularly one done years before. And if I’m going to be disturbed about problems in the case, it would be the shooter’s history of domestic violence. One might ask how people get jobs where they are given badges and weapons and put in charge of security at places like courthouses when they have a history of domestic violence. I’m reminded of a chilling op-ed piece I read years ago that pointed out if having been arrested for domestic violence (or admitting in divorce proceedings to abuse) disqualified people from being cops, prison guards, and the like, we’d have a very hard time staffing departments, prisons, and so forth3.

A FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION IS THE SINGLE GREATEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE VIOLENT CRIME AMONG MEN.”
—according to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy’s analysis of The Offender Accountability Act

Let’s not forget that all the societal forces and institutions that encouraged the shooter to hate queer people, and that afterward blames the victims for bring this thing on themselves just by being who they are, are still active in this country. Some of them are even running for high political office. Others are merely preaching in churches around the country. Though some are finding themselves less welcome with their co-religionists: Baptist Union distances itself from anti-gay pastor.

The pastor in question, Steven Anderson, is one of many who said (from his pulpit) the Pulse massacre victims deserved to be murdered. He’s not the pastor who said that who has since been arrested for molesting a young boy. But since this guy also often goes off on homophobic rants, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets caught doing something similar. But right now he’s just trying to go to South Africa and preach. He might not get to spread his hate there, however: SOUTH AFRICA CONSIDERS BANNING U.S. ANTI-GAY PREACHER.

Not that banning one pastor from one country is going to make much of a dent in the hate: Fox News Commentator Tells Conservative Christians They Must Support Anti-Gay Hate Groups.

But enough about the hateful people. What can we do to help love to win? Well, the first thing is not to forget the previous victims of hate:

Victims killed in Pulse in Orlando three months ago.

Victims killed in Pulse in Orlando three months ago. (Click to embiggen) (Facebook/AP/Reuters/Rex)


Footnotes:

1. The political cartoon I link to above refers to the Orlando shooter as a “gay homophobe” which was widely reported, but later debunked by the FBI2. The shooter installed a gay hookup app on his phone and set up his account around the same time that he bought the weapon that he later used in the massacre. And as I mentioned, his conversations never turned into meetings. He would ask gays what the busiest club was, and if they didn’t know, stop talking to him. If they mentioned any clubs, he would ask questions about the nightclubs, and then deflect any attempts by the person he was talking to to actually meet. A few people who spoke to the press in the aftermath of the shootings, claiming to have been flirted with by him or have even had sex with the shooter. But the FBI determined that none of them had actually met the shooter.

2. I still run into people who believe that the shooter was a self-loathing gay man, and that this fact means it wasn’t actually a hate crime. First, he wasn’t gay. Second, lots of hate crimes against queer people have been committed by self-loathing or in-denial queer people. Doesn’t make it any less of a hate crime.

3. I wish I could find that specific article, but I haven’t been able to track it down. There are numerous other sources of that data, however: Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population. So where’s the public outrage? for instance. Or: 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence.

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