Larry Kramer was one of the very first people to recognize the AIDS epidemic for what it was. While the Reagan administration refused to acknowledge the burgeoning epidemic and gay men didn’t want to believe it, Kramer helped found the legendary group ACT-UP, whose motto was Silence=Death.
Twenty years later, Larry Kramer has re-ignited ACT-UP to wake us up to another grim reality we’d rather not face. “The needs are different now. Then it was AIDS, and now” he says, “it is utter sheer hate hurled at us right and left.”
As blunt and confrontational as ever, Kramer began an open letter to straight people in the Los Angeles Times with the question, “Why do you hate gay people so much?” Put another way, why do those who claim to hate the sin but love the sinner often seem, instead, to love the hate but hate the h word.
For example, when former NBA player Tim Hardaway came right out and said, “I hate gay people,” Concerned Women for America immediately issued a press release condemning not his bigotry but his language:
Hardaway’s comments are both unfortunate and inappropriate. They provide political fodder for those who wish to paint all opposition to the homosexual lifestyle as being rooted in “hate.” It’s important to note that Hardaway’s words represent the feelings of Hardaway. His words do not represent the feelings of the vast majority of people opposed to the homosexual agenda. ... Thousands of former homosexuals have been freed from the homosexual lifestyle through acts of love. Hardaway’s comments only serve to foment misperceptions of widespread homosexual “victimhood” which the homosexual lobby has craftily manufactured. [from Matt Barber of Concerned Women for America in a press release dated 2-16-07, as quoted in The Advocate, March 27, 2007, print edition, page 52]
It’s funny how much “hate” feels like the real thing when you’re on the receiving end.
Maintaining an emotional disconnect from the pain they inflict is crucial to the anti-gay project. It’s a hard balancing act to pull off, particularly these days, when it seems that the right is running on nothing but fumes and hate. The media seem to think it’s enough to ban the use of the word faggot.
By that reckoning, General Peter Pace’s recent statement that gays should not be allowed to serve in the military because homosexuality is immoral should be no big deal; after all, he didn’t use any naughty words. And yet somehow one feels the hate is there. Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican from Wyoming, lays it out in a piece for the Washington Post entitled “Bigotry That Hurts Our Military”:
According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 300 language experts have been fired under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. This when even Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently acknowledged the nation’s “foreign language deficit” and how much our government needs Farsi and Arabic speakers. Is there a “straight” way to translate Arabic? Is there a “gay” Farsi? My God, we’d better start talking sense before it is too late. . . .
To fill its needs, the Army is granting a record number of “moral waivers,” allowing even felons to enlist. Yet we turn away patriotic gay and lesbian citizens.
Peter Pace would rather recruit criminals who would otherwise be sitting in prison than retain highly qualified -- even indispensable -- LGBT personnel under his command. You can call that General Pace’s religion or his personal opinion. You can even call it love if you have the nerve, but it’s hatred all the same.
Pace’s bigotry has proved somewhat awkward, since it lays him open, at the very least, to charges of serious managerial incompetence, but it’s exactly the kind of divisiveness the rightwing political blogosphere glories in. Consider, for example, this posting by Mike Adams on Townhall.com, regarding the suggestion that, as with the n word, only gay people can use the word faggot without giving offense:
This is an unspeakable insult to black people. Gay persecution does not rival black persecution in the annals (I could not find a better word to insert here) of American history. Any assertion to the contrary is simply too queer to take seriously.
The distinction between racial and gay prejudice is wholly artificial. In real life, hate runs roughshod over such careful (and clever: “annals” looks like “anal” and then you “insert,” get it?) boundaries. For example, when a black man named Corey Andrew recently told Army recruiter Sgt. Marcia Ramode that he was gay, this is where she went (via email):
GO BACK TO AFRICA AND DO YOUR GAY VOODOO LIMBO TANGO AND WANGO DANCE AND JUMP AROUND AND PRANCE AND RUN ALL OVER THE PLACE HALF NAKED THERE.
Mr. Adams’ article has the charming title, “How_to_bomb_a_gay_bath_house” and I highly recommend it. Read it and experience the “hate” for yourself. And yes, he does recommend that Ann Coulter follow six steps for bombing a gay bath house -- but it’s not what you think! It’s all good, clean fun.
Hatred is explicitly Adams’ subject:
Perhaps the most compelling reason for Ann to refrain from issuing an apology is that it might send the message that homosexuality is somehow “wrong.” Those saying that the implication that Edwards is a homosexual is “defamatory” are suggesting that homosexuality is “bad.” This flies in the face of the teachings of the official religion of the Diversity Movement, which is, of course, moral relativism.
Every time I get into a discussion about homosexuality I am accused of being “secretly gay.” When the accuser is strait (sic), he shows how much he secretly hates homosexuals. When the accuser is gay, he shows how much he secretly hates himself. Ann should not mimic this hatred by apologizing for something Leftists do regularly and unapologetically.
Q.E.D. And yet in the middle of this farrago of taunts, incitements to violence, and monster wit, Adams actually does, in a way, answer Larry Kramer’s question. He recounts an occasion when, during a casual visit with a man who “happened to be gay,” the gay guy joked that he had furnished his place in
“Early 20th Century Colonial Faggot.” He made the joke partially because he had a few too many drinks before his guests arrived. But he also did it because many homosexuals have never really aspired to the goal of making everyone feel as comfortable as they feel they have a right to feel at all times.
Interestingly enough, this sounds a note very similar to one hit by Garrison Keillor in a recent piece entitled, “Stating the obvious,” in which the homespun humorist bemoans what he calls serial monogamy (and what my old Lutheran pastor more sternly called serial polygamy), and in which he advises “stereotypical gay men” to can the flamboyance if they want to be “accepted as couples and daddies.”
I agree with his idea that children should take center stage in the family drama, but he would have come across as a whole lot less snide and sanctimonious if the thrice-married Keillor had mentioned his own serial polygamy.
And his timing is atrocious. We are in the middle of a veritable heat wave of anti-gay hate -- when the state of Virginia, as an example, has passed a draconian anti-equality amendment that forbids any marriage-mimicking legal contracts between gay couples, including simple power of attorney arrangements. In other words, the people of Virginia voted to curtail the freedom of some -- but only some -- taxpaying citizens to legally designate the person who is closest to them emotionally to act on their behalf if they’re incapacitated.
This is an amendment with a purpose: to drive openly gay people from the state.
I don’t believe that Garrison Keillor is anti-gay, but he definitely represents the problem Larry Kramer is talking about. While the fundamentalists are totally fixated on wiping same sex love off the face of the earth, our friends are often lukewarm. Candidates are cowardly because they know very well that discomfort with the social change that gay equality represents cuts across the ideological spectrum. That’s why it’s so valuable to the right. It magnifies the ability of an embattled minority to dominate the rest of us.
Fighting with each other while these madmen take over the world only benefits Halliburton. It’s time for people of good will to unite and ACT-UP against the real source of social instability, which is and always has been hate.
Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Propaganda and Conscience