July 31, 2008

How the Threat of Violence "Keeps GLBT People In Check"

Wayne Besen wrote an exceptional column reflecting on the factors that have led to a cultural environment that could have encourage violent acts like the shooting at the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, TN last weekend:

The far right's dirty little secret is that they depend on the threat of violence to retard the advancement of the GLBT movement. Without the fear of physical attack, the number of people who are out of the closet would quickly multiply. Gay couples would hold hands in every city in the nation. On each block, from San Francisco to San Antonio, gay and lesbian people would be visibly present.

Each day, all but the bravest GLBT people make subtle or even significant adjustments to remain safe. Some dress a little blander in order to blend in. A number of gay men talk a bit deeper so they won't arouse suspicion. Some lesbians apply make up so they won't get beaten up. And, most loving couples act like buddies so they won't get bashed.

We tell ourselves comforting lies, such as "we don't like public displays of affection," to justify pushing a partner's hand away at a romantic moment. But, the reality is, even the most confident and brave among us have something to fear.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of people are not violent and a significant minority of Americans fervently supports GLBT people. What the right wing realizes, however, is it only takes a small number of twisted fanatics to keep GLBT people in check. We rarely know who these lunatics are, as they often keep their hate closeted. But, each gay person knows these hidden ticking time bombs exist and could go off at any moment -- shattering our lives.

When Focus on the Family's James Dobson says that giving gay people the freedom to marry will "destroy the earth" he is encouraging hate crimes. When Oklahoma state legislator Sally Kern says that homosexuality is the "death knell of this country," she is promoting gay bashing. When Elaine Donnelly told a congressional committee that lifting Don't Ask/Don't Tell would let lesbians take pictures of people in the shower she was setting the stage for violence. When Ann Coulter authors, "How to Talk To a Liberal (If You Must)," people like Jim Adkisson may be influenced.

What I find hypocritical is that the Religious Right will take any image it deems gay and claim it "promotes homosexuality." This even extends to fictional characters such as Tinky Winky and Sponge Bob Square Pants. Yet, these same oversensitive preachers refuse to acknowledge that their mean-spirited sermons might lead to violence.

This is not reactionary hyperbole. I know people, including some members of my church family and my late brother, who lived and continue to live with that fear. The fact that, as Besen writes, it is often promulgated by those claiming they speak for God and are acting in his will makes it even more heinous.

Click here to read the rest of the column.


  1. Yes God is with ''us'' too, the way he's been with me all along. You'll understand as you read mt http://

  2. An Open Letter to America's Gay and Liberal Citizens
    by James Nimmo, www.okstonewall.org

    (OKLAHOMA CITY) In the same vein as Tip O'Neill's famous dictum, "All politics is local," I'm asking if all political murders are local.

    Knoxville's alleged murder, Jim Adkisson, who expected to die when he shot up a Unitarian Universalist church recently, left a four-page suicide letter saying that he was fed up with gays and liberals ruining the country, and reading the pretzel-twisted calumnies of Hate Radio commentators he decided to do something about it.

    Let's remember the convicted killer Dan White, former San Fransisco city council member, who also felt gays and liberals were standing in his way. He shot Mayor George Moscone and City Councilman Harvey Milk in their City Hall offices at point-blank range.

    Our American history shows the sad failure we've had in failing to support political and social leaders who push against the barbed-wire of narrow political and fundamentalist boundaries.

    A short list includes the Kennedy brothers, Dr. M.L. King, Medgar Evers, and Malcom X.

    Scapegoat is part of the definition of being a minority. Loners with fragile self-esteem and access to guns make targets of those who, mirage-like, appear in their befogged brains as the cause for their sleepless nights.

    In Oklahoma we have Republican Representative Sally Kern lambasting gays as more threatening than terrorism, Islam, and cancer. Twice she has carried a loaded handgun into the Oklahoma Capitol Building in defiance of state law. However, the Highway Patrol, acting as judge and jury decided Kern had no "malicious intent." I guess the Patrol hasn't seen Kern's Youtube clip.

    Brent Rinehart, who lost his bid for re-election this week, is a dedicated homo-hater and used a self-authored hate-filled comic book as a lynch pin in his re-election bid. Rinehart will continue to blame I'm sure the gay agenda promoters and other Oklahoma County officials for standing in his way. Sound familiar? Rinehart is also a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment.

    When was the last time an openly gay/lesbian opened fire on a collection of bible fundies hot with the fire of righteousness for the cause of religious purity? When did you last hear an openly gay/lesbian legislator use their personal privilege on the floor of their state legislature or Congress to lobby for the passage of a bill that would limit any demographic group's aspect of their protection of the law as outlined in the Bill of Rights?

    The 2nd Amendment doesn't trump the other nine!

  3. Here, here, Jim N.!!!
    I couldn't agree more.

  4. (just saw the following on the web. what's your opinion? - Teddy)

    Check out "Open Letter to the Noah/Lot Gang" and "Dangerous Radicals of the Religious Right" - both on Google, Search, etc.