Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 071515 Contents 24 // 7.15.2015 // SFGN.com //
With A Little Help From
column off the wall
Photo by Wiki User Infrogmation.
It has been a long and winding road to June
26, 2015. From the Stonewall Drag Queens
who fought the police in June 1969 to Harvey
Milk, Margareth Cammermeyer, Cleve Jones,
Evan Wolfson, Troy Perry, Larry Kramer,
Norm Kent, Frank Kameny, Dan Choi, a lot
of people, a lot of activists, a lot of unsung
heroes fought for years to get us to this point.
They risked their comfort and security to
press for equal rights for all people. To make
us fully vested participants in the American
dream. It has been a steady struggle.
For decades, anti-gay organizations and
their supporters have portrayed the LGBT
community as child molesters, diseased,
sexually aggressive miscreants whose aim
is to bring about the end of democracy or
civilization before being sent to the lower
rings of Dante's Inferno for our supposed
Through preposterous lies, distortions
and overstatements, anti-gay pastors, right
wing politicians and pseudo celebrities
made it difficult for laws to be passed to
protect our interests, health and families.
They created, and repeated ad nauseam, the
false mantra that we are a dangerous public
health hazard, that our lives are filled with
pain, misery, sadness, loneliness and early
And they did this “in God’s name.”
They are without defense. Luckily their
efforts backfired. In the long run they made
people stop and think about what they were
saying and in particular how these self-
proclaimed moral people could mix God
and Hate in the same sentences with such
ease. They were exposed for what they really
are: mean and divisive fascist demagogues.
For years we stood against their hate,
condemnation, virulence, judgment, and
abuse – most of it coming from the non-
affirming, behavior-focused Christian
churches, but finally, we are almost...here.
At this historical junction I want to
personally thank some of our "frenemies"
who helped us out with their bombastic
words and bigotry; they turned out to be our
best allies, albeit unintentionally.
To them goes my undying gratitude.
First and foremost, Anita Bryant, the
Queen of Mean. In June 1977 Bryant, a
former Miss Oklahoma and publicist for the
Florida Citrus Association, led a battle in
Dade County against an anti-discrimination
ordinance including sexual orientation. Her
"Save Our Children" campaign earned a
lot of attention with such rhetoric as "God
puts homosexuals in the same category as
murderers" and "The will of the American
people is to return this country to pro-family,
But her vitriol galvanized the gay
community nationwide to move out of the
bars and bathhouses and into the streets. It
was a turning point for gay men and lesbians
who years later would trace their own
coming out or activism to the Anita Bryant
victory. She did do damage, prompting the
repeal of antidiscrimination ordinances in
Miami and elsewhere. But her movement
was remarkably short-lived. "Anita Bryant
is the best thing ever to happen to American
homosexuals," wrote The Nation at the time.
Thanks Anita, you are the reason I became
The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., the fiery
founder of the small Westboro Baptist
Church drew international condemnation
for outrageous and hate-filled protests that
blamed almost everything, including the
deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers,
on America's tolerance for gay people.
Throughout his life, Phelps tested the
boundaries of free speech, violating accepted
societal standards for decency in his
unapologetic assault on gays and lesbians.
In the process, he helped the cause of gay
rights by serving as a provocative symbol of
intolerance forcing people to confront their
own views and rousing a protective instinct
in parents and friends of gays and lesbians.
Thank you Sir, God Bless YOU!
After the attacks of 9/11 Jerry Falwell,
appearing as a guest on Pat Robertson's
daily 700 Club program, expressed his
sorrow and outrage over the attacks but he
then elaborated on who, in addition to the
terrorists, was responsible for them. "The
pagans, the abortionists, the feminists, the
gays and the lesbians who are actively trying
to make that an alternative lifestyle, I point
the finger in their face and say 'you helped
this happen.'" He had already descended
into the absurd on February 1999, when
he stated that the purple Teletubby named
Tinky Winky was intended as a gay role
model. "He is purple – the gay pride color;
and his antenna is shaped like a triangle –
the gay-pride symbol." Jerry, I wish you were
still here today to see 21st-century America:
multiracial, multi-ethnic, global in outlook
and moving beyond centuries of racial,
sexual, marital and religious tradition.
Pat Robertson on June 10, 1998, said that
Orlando should beware of hurricanes, since
it, and Disney World, allow Gay Days to be
held there "I would warn Orlando that you're
right in the way of some serious hurricanes,
and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in
God's face if I were you,'' Robertson said on
his TV show, The 700 Club. In the months
following the statement, Orlando was
spared, but hurricanes Charley and Frances
made landfall in Texas, dumping heavy
rains, killing more than 14 people, and both
hitting the town of Corpus Christi. So much
for the "God Hates Fags" theory. Apparently
even the Almighty has a sense of humor.
Memo to all of them: If you want to
tout your own morality, you better come
up with something more substantive than
your misguided beliefs. Don't use religion to
abdicate your responsibility to be thinking
and caring human beings. And face it: a
vast number of religious people find your
self-righteous sanctimonious claptrap
repugnant. God is not for the privileged
majority, and God knows we have committed
Right: Pat Robertson. Photo by Daniel Oines.
Left: Anita Bryant.
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