Gay men account for the largest number of child molestation cases.
Gay men have shorter life spans than heterosexual men.
Lesbians are inflicted with more diseases than heterosexual women because of their unhealthy lifestyles.
Gay men have more than 500 sexual partners per year.
We have all heard them; the negative statistics, the lies and distortions that the anti-gay right uses to suggest that homosexuality is a disease and to support their claims that gays and lesbians should not have equal protection under the law. Many of us have laughed at the ridiculous rhetoric. But why do we laugh these claims off so easily?
Some of us laugh because we are trying to fight our demons. Inside of us, in dark places that we don’t want to acknowledge, are remembrances of when we first heard the lies. For some of us, they were the first things we heard about being gay. They formed negative beachheads in our young impressionable minds. They made us feel victimized and helpless. They taught us to hate ourselves, to think of ourselves as sick. Was this the life we had to lead as gays and lesbians? Were we doomed to loneliness, disease, and an early death?
We laugh at religious right lies to keep them from reminding us of the frustration and sadness we felt when first coming out of the closet. We don’t want to be reminded of the abject loneliness we felt. You know the loneliness I am talking about. The kind that makes you feel that even though you have many family and friends, you don’t have one person you can come out to.
None of us want to be reminded of our past vulnerabilities, so we stifle the hurt we feel when we hear these lies. We pretend to be amused by the manic ramblings of so-called Bible thumpers. Meanwhile anti-gay and religious right talking heads stand in front of legislative bodies, in front of church congregations, and on television spouting these ramblings virtually unchallenged, turning communities against us and giving those who despise us excuses for their hatred.
Case in point: last year’s decision by our state legislators to push against marriage equality. In each of their mail boxes was a pamphlet, “The Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do,” which accused gays and lesbians of all sorts of evil actions, including eating feces.
In our zeal to keep our minds safe from persecution, we seem to think that if we ignore the lies of the religious right, they will go away. But an unanswered lie is a statement with as much power as spoken truth. And a community who wants to control how they are being portrayed must beat back negative images pushed with much fervor as it pushes forth positive ones.
How many of the legislators, pastors, people of faith and especially people seeking to come out of the closet know the anti-gay right repeatedly and systematically distorts news articles, legitimate studies, and books to make a false case against gay equality? How many know that anti-gay organizations rely on stereotypes, distortions, and bad science to try to justify their religious and social prejudices, marketing hate under the guise of research?
Church leaders aren’t aware of the fact that the anti-gay right repeatedly relies on discredited researcher Paul Cameron for their claims that gays molest children at a higher rate and that gays live shorter than heterosexuals – both false claims founded in stereotypes and unsupported by research. Church congregations don’t know that the religious right distorted a 2001 Canadian study to claim that gays die earlier than heterosexuals. The original researchers of the study know this because they are the ones who complained about it.
I bet that very few state and national legislators are aware of how the anti-gay right takes statistics from the American Heart Association out of context in order to tell lies about lesbian health. And finally, does anyone notice how many times the religious right changes the number of sex partners gay men allegedly have in order to suit the prejudices of whichever audiences they are speaking to?
Not too many people, if any, are aware of these facts. Unfortunately this includes a lot of the gay community.
Despite all of their money and connections, the anti-gay religious right has one flaw: they don’t operate on truth. They lie and liars always leave a paper trail. It is our job to find this paper trail and expose it. It is our job to not only call out the lies but have the proof to back up our charges. We have to conquer those nagging feelings of helplessness. Every time an anti-gay talking head cites a study in order to portray our community in a negative light, don’t laugh it away, and don’t ignore it.
Get angry. Let the anger flow through you. Then get educated. Look up the study. Nine times out of ten, the study has been distorted. Then inform everyone in your circle and your community. Write a letter to the editor. Start a blog. Get motivated to bring attention to the fact that there are lies out there about us, our communities, and our lives.
Let as many as possible know that if these lies continue to go unanswered, they will negatively affect our right to protect ourselves, our children, our families, and our ability to have self determination.
You can hear Alvin read this commentary on the January 15, 2006 edition of Rainbow Radio: The Real Gay Agenda.
Blogmaster of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, Alvin A. McEwen is an African-American gay man who resides in Columbia, S.C., and whose writings have been mentioned by Good As You, People for the American Way, Raw Story, The Advocate, Media Matters for America, Crooks and Liars, Think Progress, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, Melissa Harris-Perry, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, The Washington Blade, and Fox News. He has also contributed to Pam’s House Blend, LGBTQ Nation, Alternet, Daily Kos and the Huffington Post. The 2007 recipient of the Harriet Daniels Hancock Volunteer of the Year Award, 2010 recipient of the Order of the Pink Palmetto from the S.C. Pride Movement and 2009 recipient of the Audre Lorde/James Baldwin Civil Rights Activist Award from S.C. Black Pride, he is a three-time nominee of the Ed Madden Media Advocacy Award from S.C. Pride.