I keep hearing all of this nonsense about LGBT people attacking people, about us using intimidation and violence to oppress people, about us somehow being ugly aggressors in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California that repealed marriage equality.
Newt Gingrich (who wrote the book on deceptive messaging during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives) actually accused us of being “secular fascists.” Gingrich’s attack on us seems to be the prevailing theme with those on the other side of the Proposition 8 argument. I think there needs to be some historical perspective on this matter.
True, Proposition 8 has galvanized our community. We have become a bit more politically engaged in our anger. That is a good thing. However, any display of violence on either side of the argument should never be tolerated – nor should we let the religious right frame the moment.
I have a few questions to people like Newt Gingrich, Bill O’Reilly, Chuck Norris, Gary Bauer, Peter LaBarbera and the rest who are trying to push this “gay intimidation” image. Where were you in the late 1970s when Anita Bryant accused us of trying to “recruit” children? Where were you in 1983 when Paul Cameron accused gay men of stuffing gerbils up their rectums and castrating children? Or, afterwards when he went from state to state pushing his phony research papers all designed to make us the boogiemen of American society?
Where were you when Jerry Falwell exploited the AIDS crisis to generate more money for the Moral Majority? Or when those dying of AIDS were cast out of their communities and excommunicated from their churches?
Where were you when Colorado passed that law in 1992 that basically said cities in the state had absolutely no right to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination?
Where were you when over the course of 20 years all of those phony “pro-family” groups told lies in front of federal and congressional state houses in attempts to beat back pro-gay laws or spread discredited research that gave “upstanding, moral” families the perfect excuse to put their gay sons and daughters out on the cold streets?
Where were you when organizations like Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coalition, and Focus on the Family unconsciously gave reasoning for groups of roaming thugs to bash our heads in, chase us out in heavy traffic, beat us to bloody pulps with nail embedded boards, and hang us from fences on dark and lonely roads?
How is it that you can dare call us aggressive when for more than 30 years, you have done everything in your power to make America hate and fear us? How it is that you can dare infer that we don’t have a right to get just a tad angry when for more than 30 years, you have done everything in your power to make us hate and fear ourselves?
Every lie, every indignity, every attempt to dehumanize the LGBT community has brought us to this point. The Proposition 8 vote was the last straw in a chain of indignities that stretch as long as Jacob’s ladder.
This ain’t just about marriage. Nor is this a single moment in time.
We are not the aggressors. We are learning to fight back.
When I was coming out, it wasn’t the fact that I was gay that bothered me more than the knowledge that so many had already written my life for me; told me who I was, what I liked, what I didn’t like, and even where I was going after I died. Worst of all, they had the nerve to tell me that I had absolutely no rights to the words “values,” “family,” “tradition,” or “honor.”
You know what the saddest thing about this is? I was not alone. Hundreds of thousands of LGBT people went through the same experience. It was our “rite of passage.” So while I may not have a media spin machine behind me and therefore very few will give a damn about what I say, while I may not be a member of a religious think tank who is presently working to use this moment to again dehumanize LGBT people, and while I may not be considered as a “leading gay talking head,” I am an American, a human being, and a child of God.
Therefore, I will never forget what has brought me to this point of outrage.
And I will do my best to make sure that this country never forgets either.
Lastly, I will do my best to make sure that you never forget.
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.