Pink triangles were originally used in concentration camps to identify gay prisoners.
Before the pink triangle became a worldwide symbol of gay power and pride, it was intended as a badge of shame. In Nazi Germany, a downward-pointing pink triangle was sewn onto the shirts of gay men in concentration camps—to identify and further dehumanize them. It wasn’t until the 1970s that activists would reclaim the symbol as one of liberation.
Homosexuality was technically made illegal in Germany in 1871, but it was rarely enforced until the Nazi Party took power in 1933. As part of their mission to racially and culturally “purify” Germany, the Nazis arrested thousands of LGBT individuals, mostly gay men, whom they viewed as degenerate.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates 100,000 gay men were arrested and between 5,000 and 15,000 were placed in concentration camps. Just as Jews were forced to identify themselves with yellow stars, gay men in concentration camps had to wear a large pink triangle. (Brown triangles were used for Romani people, red for political prisoners, green for criminals, blue for immigrants, purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses and black for “asocial” people, including prostitutes and lesbians.)
At the camps, gay men were treated especially harshly, by guards and fellow prisoners alike. “There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” Pierre Seel, a gay Holocaust survivor, wrote in his memoir I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror.
An estimated 65 percent of gay men in concentration camps died between 1933 and 1945. Even after World War II, both East and West Germany upheld the country’s anti-gay law, and many gays remained incarcerated until the early 1970s. (The law was not officially repealed until 1994.)
The early 1970s was also when the gay rights movement began to emerge in Germany. In 1972, The Men with the Pink Triangle, the first autobiography of a gay concentration camp survivor, was published. The next year, post-war Germany’s first gay rights organization, Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (HAW), reclaimed the pink triangle as a symbol of liberation.
“At its core, the pink triangle represented a piece of our German history that still needed to be dealt with,” Peter Hedenström, one of HAW’s founding members said in 2014.
Afterwards, it began cropping up in other LGBT circles around the world. In 1986, six New York City activists created a poster with the words SILENCE = DEATH and a bright pink upward-facing triangle, meant to call attention to the AIDs crisis that was decimating populations of gay men across the country. The poster was soon adopted by the organization ACT UP and became a lasting symbol of the AIDS advocacy movement.
The triangle continues to figure prominently in imaging for various LGBT organizations and events. Since the 1990s, signs bearing a pink triangle enclosed in a green circle have been used as a symbol identifying “safe spaces” for queer people. There are pink triangle memorials in San Francisco and Sydney, which honor LGBT victims of the Holocaust. In 2018, for Pride Month, Nike released acollection of shoes featuring pink triangles.
Although the pink triangle has been reclaimed as an empowering symbol, it is ultimately a reminder to never forget the past—and to recognize the persecution LGBT people still face around the world.
How a breakfast table staple sparked solidarity and protest in the queer community
As she heeded the call to come on down, descending the Price Is Right’s audience riser wearing a headscarf with juicy swirls of lemon, tangerine, and lime, Yolanda Bowsley’s breasts jiggled out of her tube top. Producers flashed a thick blue bar over the contestant’s naked bits, people in the studio howled, but Bowsley looked neither freaked nor ashamed. Meanwhile, on ABC’s new sitcom Three’s Company—a show with double entendres about three-ways and casual lust—a pair of tangy orange throw pillows on the set’s central couch visually throbbed, the implied accoutrements of seduction. Sexual freedom in 1977 tended to express itself in fearless, provocative hues of citrus.
But not for the queen of orange juice herself. Not for Anita Bryant, who wore shirt-dresses the color of lemon meringue pie filling and tangerine cap-sleeve bodices as if they were the armor of the righteous in battle. Bryant saw sexual openness as a challenge to God’s order, a threat to what she liked to call “straight and normal America.” It lacked decency. It corrupted children. It had to be stopped.
Bryant had been Miss Oklahoma once, beautiful, with pale skin and dark eyes. She was Jackie Kennedy with a hard-spray flip and a soft country twang, raised on church suppers and sticky flour gravy. As a tightly poised pop singer in the early ‘60s, she’d built a shortstack of hits, earning three gold records. She married her manager, Bob Green, a hunk with a handsome mess of sandy hair who knew how to pair a blazer with a turtleneck. They were a dream couple, country stylish like Elvis and Priscilla but without the obvious diet pills and demons. They lived in a six-bedroom mansion on Miami Beach’s North Bay Road, where palms rustled and clouds billowed like Rococo scrollwork, framing a crystal blue sky.
In 1969 Bryant began her second and most lucrative career—the Florida Citrus Commission, a politically powerful consortium of the state’s largest growers, crowned Bryant the Sunshine State’s official OJ Sweetheart. She became the star of TV spots and magazine ads, a lifestyle ambassador for frozen concentrated orange juice.
In an early commercial, Bryant strolls a sunny citrus grove, stabs a spigot in a dangling orange and sings a loping jingle, “Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree,” as a five-foot glass fills with juice. She tugs the spigot out and collects the last golden sluice in a tumbler of normal size. She sips. And in an Oklahoma drag that’s genuine, gentle, and perfect, with just enough post-production echo to make it sound infallible, Bryant drops the tagline: “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.”
Orange juice was, in a way, the Sun Belt’s symbol: healthy, wholesome, and optimistic, like… well, sunshine. Anita was its avatar. Then she became its avenging angel.
Per capita American OJ consumption would end up just about filling the Citrus Commission’s mighty sloshing prop glass. Houseware manufacturers like Libbey included pony-size juice tumblers in starter sets. Bars invited in a back squad of OJ party cocktails—Screwdrivers and Tequila Sunrises—to soak up the glut of concentrated juice. They invented the Alabama Slammer and the Harvey Wallbanger to keep things percolating in fern bars and fairway lounges.
There was something else bending in OJ’s favor: a cultural tilt south. Starting in 1969, the collapse of the Rust Belt—factories in the Northeast and Upper Midwest closing, towns boarding up, labor unions shrinking—became an unavoidable narrative for papers and the evening news. The Sun Belt, a made-up political projection encompassing a westward sweep of the map from Jacksonville to San Diego, was where a new conservatism was spreading like the creep of subdivisions in the desert near Phoenix. Orange juice was, in a way, the Sun Belt’s symbol: healthy, wholesome, and optimistic, like… well, sunshine. Anita was its avatar. Then she became its avenging angel.
The year Bryant stabbed that orange with a spigot, 1969, was a year of events more tumultuous billowing up north. At New York City’s Stonewall Inn, demonstrations smoldered for days following a routine bust of queers, trans women, and drag queens that set off a riot, the official start of the gay liberation movement. In spite of an ambient distaste for homosexuals and the lack of even one openly gay or lesbian elected official anywhere in the nation, by the end of 1976, legislative bodies in 40 cities and counties and one state (Pennsylvania) had passed LGBT nondiscrimination laws in some form. An enlightened consensus was jelling. It said citizens shouldn’t be fired, or evicted, or denied service because they were gay, all standard under the old rules, when America discriminated righteously to thwart sodomy and other acts of moral degeneracy. But righteousness didn’t evaporate in the heat of Stonewall. Righteousness festered, biding its time.
As 1977 dawned in South Florida, liberals on the Miami–Dade County Commission passed a pretty standard homosexual nondiscrimination ordinance. Religious conservatives, including Bryant, representing her church, drew a line in the pale, sugar-fine sand. They spoke against the ordinance at a Commission hearing, arguing that the ordinance violated her rights as a person of faith. When it passed anyway, Bryant promised retribution, spinning a metaphor that, consciously or not, conjured a vision of Florida orange groves choked by a homosexual radicalism inching its sinister tendrils toward Washington and the Constitution. “The seed of sexual sickness,” Bryant said, “that germinated in Dade County has already been transplanted by misguided liberals in the U.S. Congress.”
Bryant’s retribution came weeks later, when she and her allies delivered, in an enormous bulging old suitcase wheeled into the county registrar’s office on a dolly, signatures in favor of calling a special referendum on the Miami-Dade ordinance. Bryant and her allies launched Save Our Children, to urge voters to bury the homosexual nondiscrimination ordinance with a special referendum in June. Children were the true victims of the ordinance, which enabled homosexuals (and especially gay teachers) to bend the innocent ones toward a mincing evil. “Gays can’t reproduce,” Bryant would say—often—in variations on the line, “so they have to recruit.”
Gay and lesbian political groups nationally saw what was happening: Suddenly, Miami was America’s test case for the strength of the nascent homosexual civil rights movement. And they were going up against a star, a woman with a national profile, with the strength of one of Florida’s major industries tacitly, at least, behind her. They were up against the queen of frozen concentrated orange juice herself.
Some raised money to send to activists in Miami defending the ordinance. Jim Toy, an LGBT-rights pioneer in Michigan, remembers driving from Ann Arbor to Detroit to make the round of gay bars with a donation jar. Others tried to hurt Bryant at the source of her fame. “We didn’t know any way to get back at her,” says Wayne Friday, who in 1977 was president of San Francisco’s Tavern Guild, a powerful association of gay bar owners and employees. “So we just targeted orange juice.”
Weeks after the Miami-Dade special referendum was called, gay bars across the U.S. were boycotting orange juice from the Sunshine State, and activists including Harvey Milk, a vocal organizer in the new queer scene in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, were urging people to drop it at breakfast. Consumer boycotts were a persuasive tactic of the left, starting with farm labor organizer César Chávez’s call in 1966 for shoppers to shun California grapes and lettuce. In 1977, organized labor called for a boycott of Coors beer to protest the company’s labor practices, its union-busting and alleged racism and homophobia. But the Florida orange juice boycott was the first organized by gay and lesbian activists. They called it a gaycott. And it was strongest in what was, in 1977, the gayest city in America.
In April, San Francisco’s Tavern Guild printed up notices on orange construction paper for its member bars to post. The signs didn’t state so much as throw down: “TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS this establishment DOES NOT SERVE FLORIDA ORANGE JUICE or orange juice from CONCENTRATE.”
Wayne Friday says the public boycott started at a Polk Street bar, the N’Touch. Friday tended bar there. “Bars up and down Polk Street,” Friday says, “they’d have a thing where they’d say, ‘Okay, at 11 in the morning everybody pour out your orange juice in the street.’ We even got some non-gay bars to do it. The police would get a little mad but the city would just wash down the street.”
In some bars you could get a Screwdriver for half price if you brought in your own sack of oranges and squeezed them yourself, on little hand squeezers set out on the bar. You could bring in your own juice, but you had to know what you were carrying. “God help you if you brought a bottle of orange juice that was from Florida,” Friday says. “I’ve seen a bartender take it off the bar, look at the label, and pour it right down the drain.” Other bars pushed Greyhounds (vodka and grapefruit juice). Dan Perlman, a member of Ann Arbor’s Gay Student Union during the boycott, remembers a horrible grapefruit Tequila Sunrise, though a grapefruit Alabama Slammer tasted better (and still tastes better, he says) than the OJ original.
In his April 14 column for the Bay Area Reporter, a weekly gay newspaper, Harvey Milk urged readers to switch to pineapple juice for breakfast. “Some say that ONE can of OJ won’t make any difference,” he wrote. “Before Bryant becomes more powerful, remember that your ONE can adds up to millions of ONE cans throughout the nation. The only way to stop this bigot is to have a fully effective economic boycott.”
A queer cottage industry of anti-Anita protest gear popped up, with oranges as symbols of active (and sometimes passive) defiance: “Anita, Dear… Cram It”; “Stop V.D. Fuck Oranges.” People wore orange buttons that said “Squeeze Anita!” “A Day Without Human Rights Is Like a Day Without Sunshine,” read a popular T-shirt in all-caps bold, under a rough-skinned orange lurking like the Death Star.
Bryant spent the five months of the Miami-Dade campaign defiant, showing up at her church school to sing “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” with kindergartners as props. “Anita Bryant was once known as an orange juice saleswoman,” the local Miami NBC affiliate reported. “Not anymore. With a religious fervor that has made her the nation’s most controversial woman overnight, she has been selling her Save Our Children group.”
Bryant portrayed her own martyrdom at the hand of the gaycott. “They’re coming, attacking my livelihood,” Bryant told a TV reporter, “and it has undermined a 10-year relationship with Florida citrus of goodwill. But I feel strongly, and I have great faith in God, that he’s going to take care of me. I’m not afraid. I have not been moved in that respect. And I do not believe that the product and the people I represent will be intimidated by that kind of a force.” She vowed to fight on, even if what she called her livelihood (in 1977 the Florida Citrus Commission paid her $100,000; adjusted for inflation that’s a little over $400,000 today) was stripped from her.
“We’re dealing with a vile and a vicious and a vulgar gang,” a young Jerry Falwell, Bryant’s supporter, said of Save Our Children’s foes.
The gays and their allies were simply outplayed. Save Our Children hired a Republican political consultant to produce a devastating ad, contrasting Miami’s annual Orange Bowl Parade with the San Francisco Pride march. The image of a baton twirler at the Orange Bowl, a girl with rosy cheeks, in a white, stylized military uniform, gives way to washed-out footage from San Francisco of a shirtless man in worn jeans and feathered hair, pelvic-thrusting on a float with a sad-looking palm tree, then cuts to another man in a black jockstrap and studded leather halter.
“The Orange Bowl Parade,” you hear a man say in voiceover, “Miami’s gift to the nation, wholesome entertainment. But in San Francisco, when they take to the streets, it’s a parade of homosexuals, men hugging other men, cavorting with little boys. The same people who turned San Francisco into a hotbed of homosexuality want to do the same thing to Dade County.” The dystopian gay metropolis appears furtive and frantic, fueled by speed and menace.
They never really had a chance, the gays and lesbians on OJ pickets at supermarkets or arguing their case at grocery co-op meetings, squeezing oranges or passing donation jars in gay bars. They thought the cause of civil rights, pretty much alone, would rally voters of conscience. They expected easier grounds for common cause with other minorities who’d suffered oppression.
As election news from 3,000 miles away seeped in through TVs, bars bumping Thelma Houston and Donna Summer emptied onto the streets of San Francisco’s burgeoning gay neighborhood that chilly night in June. By a two-to-one margin, voters in Dade County had killed the nondiscrimination ordinance. At an event she called the Lord’s victory supper, Anita Bryant was gleamingly triumphant. She vowed to take the fight to every city, county seat, and state capitol in the nation with laws protecting gay people.
The crowd in San Francisco marched from the Castro to Polk Street, chanting, carrying candles in Dixie cups.. They milled around City Hall, returned to the Castro, and sat down in a busy intersection. Harvey Milk marched at the head of the crowd; later he spoke. Nobody had seen such a large and spontaneous takeover of the streets by so many calling themselves “faggots” and “dykes.” “I feel like the bill of rights has been wadded up on a cheap piece of paper and thrown in the wastebasket,” a woman told a radio reporter that night. You could hear her anger.
Others glimpsed a measure of victory in defeat. Bob Kunst, Bryant’s opponent on the ground in Miami, said the ordinance fight had galvanized world opinion. “She gave us every access to world media,” Kunst said from the post-referendum party in a quietly reflective at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. “We had over 50,000 news clippings, this was the turning point where ‘gay’ became a household word, and we opened up the entire debate on human sexuality.”
For Milk, defeat was a reckoning, a reminder that gays and lesbians had to unify, to organize, and most of all to come out. Later that year, Milk would become the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in America. Just 17 months later he’d be assassinated, shot by a former cop, but not before he’d inspired a more active national LGBT movement and urged every one of the estimated 15 million queer Americans to come out to President Jimmy Carter, by letter. It wasn’t until 1998, 20 years later, that Dade County passed a new gay and lesbian rights ordinance. It’s still in effect, though conservative groups tried to repeal it in 2002.
The orange juice gaycott went on after the referendum, petering out gradually. Bryant continued the work of Save Our Children; she was met with picket lines and protests everywhere she went. In Iowa, a protester nailed her with a cream pie. It is, perhaps, the enduring image of Anita, flicking pie crust out of one eye, praying for the man who threw it.
“At first the Florida Citrus Commission was bombarded,” Bryant told the Miami Herald after the referendum. “I guess people had nothing better to do than to write and to boycott. Then the mothers of America retaliated, I think. Sales are up 15 percent over last year. The citrus people say I’m a private citizen, that I can express my views.” It was an exaggeration, or wishful thinking. Two weeks after the referendum the public relations spokesman for Florida citrus said he wished Bryant would resign. At the end of 1978, in the same month Milk was assassinated, Bryant was fired. In 1980 she and Bob Green divorced. She experienced bankruptcy and decline. In 1990, trying to make a comeback with a new album, Bryant told Inside Story she had no regrets about what she did in Dade County in 1977. “I don’t regret it because I did the right thing.” She now lives quietly in Oklahoma.
On the night of the referendum, people called in to Fruit Punch, a gay radio show broadcast across the bay from San Francisco in Berkeley, to express their anger, fear, or despair. “I just about broke down in tears, something like this happening in our country,” a woman said in a weary tone. Another seemed almost chipper in her resolve. “I’m not gay myself,” she explained. “I just want to say that Anita Bryant has made me really mad because she’s wasting her time on negative things.”
She said she had a solution, said it with the optimism of the perpetually just. “We are giving up orange juice.”
Bob Green, Anti-Gay Bigot, Dies As Resentful As He Lived
Most people have no idea who he was. You can’t blame them. He was just a speed bump on the road toward equality of rights. Behind the scenes, however, he played an important role in creating the “culture war” that still plagues this nation.
Anita Bryant, the anti-gay crusader, was his wife. He didn’t play the role of sidekick; he was the power behind the throne.
Bryant was a would-be beauty queen, a Miss America runner-up who tried a singing career. She managed a small number of songs in the top 100 but was never star material. Green met her when he was a radio station DJ and escorted her to a music industry convention. They married in 1960, and he took control of Anita’s career.
Her career peaked when the Florida Citrus Commission hired her as a spokeswoman. Her commercials hawking orange juice made her a familiar face in American living rooms, something she used to her advantage in 1977 when she and Bob launched their anti-gay campaign. The couple trotted out all the usual anti-gay stereotypes, right down to naming their organization Save Our Children.
Their campaign resulted in numerous copycats working to repeal anti-discrimination laws around the country — but only those anti-discrimination laws that protected the LGBT community. Jerry Falwell rushed to Miami to support her but stole the lucrative anti-gay issue from under her by forming his Moral Majority.
In addition to pushing the usual stereotypes, Bryant even claimed that her “ministry” was capable of “curing” gay people through prayer. Save Our Children originated most of the talking points still used by the religious right in regard to gay people.
I made my way to Indianapolis on Oct. 7, 1977 to witness Bryant and Green in action. They were there to promote a “Right to Decency” bill introduced by Rep. Don Boys, a fundamentalist minister. Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell were the draw for an evening rally. Earlier, her fundamentalist followers held a march in support of the bill. Some carried protest signs demanding that gay people be executed. Others seriously told me that the presence of homosexuals caused droughts. I jokingly asked if it were possible to control flooding by busing homosexuals, and one person seriously told me it would work.
Bryant had a concert/rally scheduled in South Bend on the Oct. 27, so I called the sponsoring minister and persuaded him to allow me to spend the day at the auditorium with Bryant and Green. It was eye-opening. Bryant was practicing, but between numbers she and Green would talk with me. When they weren’t talking to me, I was watching them.
Anita was plastered in make-up, though she was only 37 at time. Green, nine years her senior, dominated her completely.
Through the rehearsal he’d chastised her, pointing out every error or flaw. He wasn’t kindly, either. He barked at her. She didn’t talk back, but her body language was unmistakable. She tensed when he neared; her eyes shot barbs of contemptuous anger in his direction. Theirs was obviously a terminally ill marriage. Having experienced an abusive father at home, I was sensitive to the signs. I wondered how much worse it was behind closed doors, without a stranger watching.
At first, Save Our Children was rolling in money. But Falwell and other hate-mongers jumped into the market. Falwell’s television empire easily pushed Save Our Children out of the cash-generating limelight. Bryant’s records weren’t going to make her rich, and by publicly taking a political position, Bryant was poison as a spokeswoman. In 1979 the Florida Citrus Commission didn’t renew her expiring contract.
The final straw was a 1980 divorce. She claimed emotional abuse as the reason. Green insisted that they were still married according to the Bible and opposed her, publicly urging her to return to his side. The messy public divorce angered fundamentalists, her last source of support, guaranteeing her a well-deserved decline into obscurity. And when she was no longer in the public eye, Bob Green became a nobody. It took the media over a month to notice he had died.
Green remained bitter until the end. Bryant had told the world what I already knew, that their marriage “was never much good to begin with.” He never took responsibility for the decline and fall of Anita Bryant. He blamed gays, saying, “Blame gay people? I do. Their stated goal was to put her out of business and destroy her career. And that’s what they did. It’s unfair.” But Bob Green was the one who managed her into obscurity. He encouraged the crusade that lost her the spokeswoman career, and they couldn’t out-compete Falwell in the anti-gay market.
In The Miami Herald Steve Rothaus wrote, “For more than 30 years, Mr. Green lived quietly, alone and resentful.” He didn’t take responsibility for the choices he made. He convinced himself that it was all the fault of “the gays” and his ex-wife. Anita told Rothaus, “Bob internalized a lot of his own anger and frustration and disappointments. … I tried to be his friend, but you can only go so far.”
A brutal murder that took place over 40 years ago in San Francisco shocked and catalyzed that city’s gay community and resulted in exposing the mostly hidden to the public- eye violence against gay people.
On the night of June 21, 1977, Robert Hillsborough, and his roommate, Jerry Taylor, went out to a disco for a night of dancing. They left sometime after midnight and stopped for a bite to eat at the Whiz Burger a few blocks from their apartment in the Mission District. When they left the burger joint, they were accosted by a gang of young men shouting anti-gay slurs at them. Hillsborough and Taylor ran into Hillsborough’s car as several of the attackers climbed onto the car’s roof and hood. Hillsborough drove off, and thought that he left his troubles behind him. What he didn’t know was that they were following him in another car. Hillsborough parked just four blocks away from their apartment. When they got out of the car four men jumped out the other car and attacked them again. Jerry Taylor was beaten, but he managed to escape. Robert Hillsborough wasn’t so lucky.
Robert was brutally beaten and stabbed 15 times by 19-year-old John Cordova who was yelling, “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” Witnesses also reported that Cordoba yelled, “This one’s for Anita!” Neighbors were awakened by the commotion, and one woman screamed that she was calling the police, which prompted the four attackers to flee. Neighbors rushed to Hillsborough’s aid, but it was too late. Hillsborough died 45 minutes later at Mission Emergency Hospital. Cordoba and the three other assailants were arrested later that morning.
Because Hillsborough was employed as a city gardener, Mayor George Moscone followed longstanding practice and ordered flags at City Hall and other city properties to be lowered to half-mast. He also directed his anger to Anita Bryant and California State Sen. John Briggs, who was running for governor and an anti-gay platform. Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Miami which resulted in the defeat of a gay rights ordinance three weeks earlier had inspired Briggs to hold a new conference in front of city hall the week before Hillsborough’s death to announce a campaign to remove gays and lesbians from teaching. Moscone called Briggs an anti-homosexual “demagogue” and held him responsible for “inciting trouble by walking right into San Francisco, knowing the emotional state of his community. He stirred people into action. He will have to live with his conscience.”
Hillsborough’s death also struck a deep nerve in the gay community. ”We live in a paranoid state,” said Harvey Milk, who was preparing his run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, “and the death of Robert is only the culmination of a lot of violence that’s been directed at us.” San Francisco’s Pride celebration, which took place just a few days later, attracted a record-breaking 300,000 people, and it became an impromptu memorial march as participants erected a makeshift shrine at City Hall.
Cordova was charged with a single count of murder, along with Thomas J. Spooner, 21. The other two passengers in the car were not charged.
Cordova was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to only 10 years in prison. Charges were later dropped against Spooner.
The parents of Robert Hillsborough filed a $5 million lawsuit accusing Anita Bryant of conducting a hate campaign against homosexuals. Hillsborough’s parents claimed and rightfully so that Miss Bryant’s public comments constituted “a campaign of hate, bigotry, ignorance, fear, intimidation and prejudice” against their son and other homosexuals. This, they said, amounted to a conspiracy to deprive Hillsborough of his civil rights.
U.S. District Judge Stanley A. Weigel dismissed the case saying that he lacked jurisdiction because Miss Bryant lives in Florida.
And still 40 years later the violence continues to this day. We must never forget those who lost their lives to hatred and bigotry.
Robert L. Hillsborough Born: March 10, 1944 Died: June 22, 1977
Picture it; “Coastal Twist” Fair Day, Umina Beach, October 2019. This was one of a number of inaugural events for a yearly festival for the gay/LGBT/queer community on the Central Coast of NSW. I attended this friendly-feeling event with my housemate (an ex), and my most current ex. We have all moved out of the big city, and into the peace and quiet of life in this area almost 4 years ago. The gay community in this rather large area of NSW is there, but not blatantly obvious and “out there” ￼like it is in the city. It is not easy to meet other gay people here, and the apps only really offer sex, not friendships. One would hope that events like this could change that scenario, but…
So, we are standing in the allocated area for alcohol, having a beer. This guy appears and greets my housemate, who knows him, and his partner, from earlier days in Darlinghurst, where they ran a restaurant. They have also dropped my housemate home from Woy Woy station on several occasions, on their way home to Umina Beach. In other words, they only live a very short distance away. My housemate has always made a point of telling me what a lovely couple they are.
Anyway…we are chatting to the one who appeared, obviously an extrovert. Really nice guy, very friendly, very chatty, and not a scatter brain. I automatically took to him, and the four of us were happily chatting away about life on the coast when his partner made an appearance. Despite my housemate insisting I knew them – he does this a lot…like I knew every single gay man in Sydney – but I certainly don’t remember them, so introductions all around. The partner stood next to me, and quite obviously wasn’t interested in getting involved in the conversation going on, which made me feel quite uncomfortable. He hung around for a couple of minutes, disappeared, returned a short time later, then disappeared again. Meanwhile, I found the one we were chatting to quite affable, and thought…nice guy to get to know. Finding out that he was also on a disability pension, and free during the day had me thinking about occasional coffees or lunches to break the home monotony. Towards the end of the chat, he mentioned they were having a barbecue the next day for some friends, and would we all like to come. Thinking this was a great opportunity to get to know and socialise with some other local gays, we said yes, and in return invited them to our annual home Christmas bash at the start of December. It did cross my mind that with the partner being less friendly and sociable, there could be a problem!
As it turned out…I was right. Got up the next day quite looking forward to meeting up again, only to be told by the housemate that he had received a message from the affable partner, saying the unfriendly partner was not feeling well, and the barbecue had been cancelled. We both exchanged a look that said…we know what’s happened there. Not a word since. It has been made pretty obvious – at least from one of the two – that we are supposed to ignore each other, despite a shared sexuality, and close proximity. Needless to say, I was very disappointed! It’s almost like being back on the scene in the city, where attitude reigns supreme!
I have heard from a number of Melbourne gay guys that Sydney gays are hard to get friendly with because of their attitude…and having lived in Melbourne, I tend to agree. What is it about Sydney men that makes them think they are better than anyone else! It was difficult enough when negotiating the scene in the 80s & 90s. There is a stand-offishness with Sydney guys, an attitude that makes approaching them difficult, and awkward. I always found picking guys up in Melbourne a lot easier than picking them up,in Sydney. It’s not that I lacked a sex life in Sydney, more that you had to work harder for it, and if guys weren’t interested, they were often quite rude about it. Everyone hung around in their cliquey groups – including me – and because the group was always there, in the pubs and bars, it was difficult to meet an individual. Going to a pub or bar on your own often meant that was how you remained for the night – single and alone. It was likewise within the scenes sub-groups, such as leather guys, bears, muscle Mary’s and so on. It seemed to be a like-for-like situation, and if you didn’t fit you were left on the outer. Despite sly looks, and eye meetings, attitude more often than not got in the way. Big parties like Mardi Gras and Sleaze became, after the late 80s, just about the gym bunnies dancing…off their faces…with other gym bunnies, and if you didn’t fit the mould then…too bad. I did wonder on occasion if these Peter Pans had any sex life at all, or did they just pose and flex as a substitute! It got really bad. Attitude ruled!
I remember only too well my run-in with AIDS in 1996. It was a very distressing and traumatic experience, and one I wasn’t expected to survive. However, it was a time of big advances in HIV medications, and I got through it against the odds. After 18 months of getting my mental and physical health back together, I thought it was time to make a move back onto the scene, and start having sex again. It had been a long drought. And in that interim period, even more friends had died, and it became very obvious that I knew very few people in Sydney at that time. I think my first night back out in a pub I had always been familiar with was…scary and alienating! I knew…nobody! And found myself standing on my own all night while these groups of people socialised around me. As always, guys looked, but no one approached. I recollect feeling very distressed about it. Not being someone who did beats, saunas or backrooms, I wondered if I was ever going to have sex again. It made me very aware of the devastation that wiped out most of my social circle, and despite me hoping that HIV/AIDS would bring us,…as individuals who existed within a sub-cultural community…closer together, that instead attitude had won out, and if you were on your own within the ghetto, you were likely to remain so. It gave me empathy for those who, in the days prior to my brush with death, I had observed wandering through the scene largely ignored.
I did eventually have sex, though it came with the knowledge…at least on one occasion…that people on the scene who were on the outskirts of HIV had no concept of what I was recovering from. I wanted a slow transition back into anal sex, but the attitude was…well…why! You’re gay…you should be ready and willing to do this HIS way! That didn’t work for me…though my second encounter was a lot more reciprocal and inventive. I fortunately ran into a friend when out one Friday night, who I hadn’t had contact details ,for, and thanks to him I then had someone to go out with. Shortly after that, I ended up in a relationship for the next 16 years. Through him, I ended up circulating in his social circle, so until we moved to Brisbane, our social life was quite good. Yeah…Brisbane…
I admit to being a bit of an introvert, but not to the point where I don’t socialise or enjoy the company of other people. My partner was my opposite – he was a true extrovert, and as often happens, the opposites that we were worked. However, Brisbane defeated both of us. What is it about capital cities that make gay men develop attitude – that ability to look down their noses at other gay men, to be stand-offish, or just talk through you. There was a lot of that in Brisbane, and in the almost 4 years we lived there, we had no friends on the local scene. It was like an unbreachable barrier. In early 2014, we mutually called an end to our relationship. The next lesson in gay attitude was about to come to a head. This branch of attitude was called…social media!
I love how we give names to things that aren’t what the name implies. I first started using Facebook around 2012. There wasn’t a lot of use back then, but I then discovered that a lot of people I knew from the scene in the 80s & 90s…and assumed many were dead as they had disappeared from the scene…were actually on FB, and much to my delight I reconnected with them. Now, this is the “social” part of social media that I enjoyed then, and continue enjoying even now! I have to say that of my 150-odd “friends” on there, in reality my friend list could be reduced to about 40, as they are the only ones who respond to, and comment on, posts and status updates. As for the rest of them…I don’t know why they bothered sending a friend request in the first place! In many (most?) cases, it is a matter of commenting on friends posts, and somebody from their list checking out your profile (picture, mainly), and thinking they’d send you a request.
I used to look at the friends requests, see how many mutual friends we had, and either accepted or declined from there. However, even that method of “friends in common” hasn’t proved successful, and I’ve ended up with a friends list of mainly people who may as well not exist at all, as they neither like, nor comment on, any of the activity coming from my profile…except for the serial pests! Yep…those guys who send friends requests for no other reason than to try to hook up through FB Messenger. They seem to think because you are friends with so-and-so, you are automatically available for some dirty talk or otherwise. As soon as I accept a friends request, and seconds later a Messenger pings with a “Hi handsome” or “Hi sexy” message I think…here we go! I know it appears rude, but these days I ignore them. Back in earlier days, when it really annoyed me that they didn’t want to know anything more about me than the size of my cock, I used to bore them with long tirades about myself to see if they’d stick it out! They rarely did! In my defence, I’m not adverse to some dirty talk (as several can attest)…but I like a stranger to get to know at least a little bit about me first!
Which brings us to the modern curse of self-censorship. These days, everyone seems to be so easily offended…though I do wonder if a lot of it isn’t being offended for the sake of being offended. As I’ve stated, I know most of my friends list, but there are those in there I don’t!’t know (friends of friends) so I always have to think before reposting something…is this going to offend anyone, even if it’s a tongue-in-cheek meme.
Instagram has become, in many respects, a narcissist heaven. Every person…gay and straight…who goes to a gym has to put up daily photos with shirts off, and undies on…just! Men love to show off their cocks/cock bulges and it has become so prolific that it borders on being a yawnfest now, and it’s noticeable that none of them are unattractive. Conversations of any description are light on too…though I do check regularly to see what reactions the posts generate. ❤️😍🔥🍆💦 are all most admirers have to say!
Of course, the next step from social media were the sex apps! Fuck me…can we talk a whole new dimension to hollow, and shallow! Now we can REALLY talk attitude…and how! My experiences in my short 12-month sprint on these apps could fill a book! And virtually none of it positive! The only way I have ever been able to describe my experiences there are as…demeaning, humiliating and frustrating! It seems to be the one medium where users can be totally rude, ignorant pigs…and get away with it!
At the height of my sex app/web usage, I was logging onto Gaydar, Scruff, Grindr, Manhunt, and BBRT. It’s like a drug addiction! You’d find yourself logging on over breakfast just to see what humiliation was in store for you that day. Of all the dozens of men I had contact with over 12 months, my total scoring sex encounters amounted to…5. Of those…1 was satisfactory. Thankfully, there were no second dates. So, here are some of my ￼(true) encounters on the apps. Take into account that I discovered early not to give your true age…but I only knocked 5 years off…I was upfront about being HIV+, (and had an undetectable viral load for many, many years), and that I was severely vision-impaired, and as a result of this, I didn’t have a car. No names mentioned to protect the guilty;
The guy who had hot tatts, and messaged me, whenever I was online on Saturday night, that he would drop in TONIGHT. He never made one appearance…but I would say that due to the long gaps in answering messages, others were perhaps more lucky!
The guy who wanted to call in at 8.00am on his way to work for a quickie, then got his nose out of joint when I said no, as I had to get up at 7.00am to walk the dogs, and that was my have- breakfast-and-wake-up-properly time…and I just wasn’t horny at that hour! No mention of alternative times from him, so bye!
The guy whose photo was always right next to mine on Scruff, and lived in the same suburb. After 6 months of this happening, I thought I’d just send him a message to say hi from another local…was intended to be quite innocent! I got the most abrupt message back, wanting to know what I was after! He did calm down when I explained it was intended to be nothing more than a hello from a neighbour, but it made me realise how judgemental people on these sites were.
The guy who kept sending me teasing messages, then messaged me one Saturday night saying that he and 4 other guys were having a party, were off their faces…and needed tops!
The much older guy who thought he was so desirable that he had a “stable” of guys. He visited me at home…non-sexually…and explained that he would pick and choose his sexual partner depending on his mood. Evidently, if you were lucky enough to be selected for an encounter, you were expected to drop everything and be available to satisfy his sexual requirements. Needless to say, the three times he rang me, to an unanswered phone, must have eventually given him the idea that…we’ll…I wasn’t available!
The guy who was in a relationship, but his partner was working, and he travelled for about an hour to get to my place, arrived at around 3.00am, then proceeded to sit and drink a bottle of wine (even I’d stopped drinking way before that hour), then at 4.00am when we hit the sack, wondered why I couldn’t keep a hard-on…could it have been that I had been drinking much earlier, and that I was REALLY tired?
The guy who had been messaging me for months to have an assignation. He had a profile picture of an attractive, well-groomed guy, and had there that he was into fitness. My profile stated that amongst my PREFERENCES were smooth guys, into fitness and health, as I was. Well…when he turned up, it was evident the profile picture was quite old. Wasn’t totally unattractive, but had unkempt hair and beard, was overweight…and very hairy. We did have sex, as he was actually quite a nice guy, and we lined up another date. As it turned out, I had to move back to Sydney before that came around, and messaged him to let him know. He messaged back asking who I was…that he couldn’t place me. Obviously just as well I wasn this hanging out for the second date!
Then there was my one quite satisfying encounter. Nice looking guy, great personality. Came over for dinner, and seduction, all achieved quite enjoyably. By this stage in my personal life, I had just split up with a partner I had been with for 16 years. We hadn’t had sex together for a number of years at this time…he had assignations behind my back (or so he thought), and I was monogamous inside a relationship…so I hadn’t had a good fucking for quite some time. Not surprisingly, my guest wasn’t a small boy, and there was some…not unexpected…discomfort after. However, the next day…it never rains but it pours…another guy messaged me could he come over. This guy was also in a relationship, but had fantasies about fucking guys raw (no condoms, that is). Not believing my luck, I agreed. He turned up for what was basically a “blow ‘n go”, but having some slight damage from the night before, there was a bit of blood when he drew out. Well…he freaked. I kept trying to reassure him that I was undetectable, had been for a long, long time, and that I couldn’t pass anything on…not even a good old-fashioned std! Anyway, after much showering and scouring, he left. I think he was having second thoughts about his sexual fantasies at this stage.
Then the strangest one of all! Met two guys on the Barebackers site. One was interested sexually…so I thought…and one was in a rather odd relationship, but just wanted friendship. They both knew each other quite well from the site, and both came over for a “check you out” visit. We hit it off really well, and I was quite attracted to the guy who I thought was sexually interested in me. Later that night, he dropped the other guy home and came back. We had a couple of glasses of wine, and a chat. There was a bit of touchy-feely, then he said he had to get home, so I said okay. The visits continued, and what appeared to be a friendship developed. Now, the guy informed me he used to be a gay male escort in Sydney back in the 80s. We had both already ascertained that we’d lied about our ages on the site, and as it turned out, there was only five years between us. So I got a real surprise one night when I progressed things from just tit play and tongue kissing…to oral. That was fine, but then I pulled him up off the lounge, and headed him to the bedroom. He freaked…and fled! I really couldn’t work out what was going on at all. The next time we chatted, it was like nothing had happened. A chat with our other mate revealed that he had invited his 80-odd-years-old parents to live with him…and that they (who were living in the flat of their 55-year-old son) and they actually dictated what time he should be home by! Anyway, for some unknown reason he got very stand-offish, and we lost contact just before I moved back to Sydney. At my first dinner party with friends back in Sydney, I must have accidentally pocket-dialled him. I received a rather abrupt message from him, informing me that he really didn’t appreciate me ringing him to show what a good time I was having back in Sydney! WTF!
Unlike other guys I know, by admitting my HIV+ status on these sites, I never had anyone ask me if I was “Clean”! What ignorant arseholes these people are! What gives them the right to embarrass and demean people in this way…it is just internalised homophobia/AIDSphobia. Many of the recipients of this “request” were guys who lived through the horror years of HIV/AIDS, fought the battles for access to medical care, sat back…defenceless…as their social circles – friends, acquaintances, relatives, partners – were obliterated from the face of the earth, fought their own battles with AIDS and associated illnesses, coming out the other end of it burnt out, emotionally and psychologically devastated…YET embracing new treatments and therapies, many of which had not been thoroughly trialled. They are here because they took control, found treatments that worked, thus increasing their CD4 counts, and are now living with undetectable viral loads. It is now proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that having unprotected sex with an HIV+ person with an undetectable viral load will NOT put you at risk to contract HIV! Yet there are low-lives on sex apps who have the rudeness and audacity to ask these guys if they are “Clean”? Seriously? Fuck off! And get a fucking education, you ignorant prick! I can assure you…it’s just as well you never confronted me with that!
Before I moved back to Sydney, I deleted the apps, and closed online accounts. I really had had enough. I just don’t get why guys are so dishonest, and make having sex such a difficult thing! It’s like everything that goes on through social media, and sex sites. People can hide behind profiles, and they seem to think that because there is no person-to-person contact, they have a licence to throw all decency, morals and ethics out the window…that it is just open slather to be rude, demean people, lead people on, and to hurt people with no consequences coming back on them! It is one of several big drawbacks of using these forms of media. This sort of irresponsible behaviour would never have been tolerated in the days of face- to-face meetings in bars. It is sad that gay men have cheapened themselves so much in these days of contemporary media!
I am reconciled to a sexless life these days…well, apart from what I can do myself! The gay scene in Sydney is pretty well dead. Ageism was always alive and well anyway, and that is something that has moved over into social media, and the sex/dating apps. There are no gay bars in the area I live in, and despite the odd occasional eye contact in my local clubs, there is little opportunity to meet other gay people. Most of my social life these days revolves around straight people in my own age group. It’s not that this concerns me, as they are wonderful, inclusive people…but not likely to provide a 66-year-old who still has a high libido a sex life! That some of the gay people we’ve met here have an attitude problem, doesn’t help.
A lot of gay men need to get over it! That somebody wants to chat to you doesn’t mean they want to pick you up! More often than not, they just want to interact with someone who shares their sexuality, to be able to talk”gay”. These are, in many respects, remote areas that don’t have rows of gay nightclubs and pubs, and we need to learn respect for each other, irrespective of age, disability or gender. We can be our worst enemy, and it’s time to move on from attitude and snobbery.
Next time you pass someone in your local village or town who you think might be gay…we are more often than not still obvious…throw them a smile and a “Hi”. It’s not going to cause you any harm (even if they are not gay), and it could well make that persons day.
This article and listing is from 2010, so some have possibly disappeared, and new groups appeared. I think this is an important part of our history, a constant reminder that there has always been, and will continue to be, groups whose sole purpose is to discriminate, demoralise, spread misinformation, and use hate-speech against the LGBT community. We could add our own local groups like the so-called Australian Christian Lobby, and Family First. These groups like to glorify the word “family” with no nod or acknowledgement to the changing faces of “family” in today’s world. Mind you, these are the same groups who suggest that, if you are the victim of domestic abuse, you should just suffer it for the sake of your “family”. Says it all, really!
A small coterie of groups now comprise the hard core of the anti-gay movement
Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, havecontinued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexualsand other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the“facts” they disseminate about homosexualityare often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. Of the 18 groups profiled below, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be listing 13 next year as hate groups, reflecting further research into their views; those are each marked with an asterisk. Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based ontheir propagation of known falsehoods— claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.
*Abiding Truth Ministries
Abiding Truth Ministriesserves mainly as a launching pad for an international anti-gay campaign. Its founder, Scott Lively, is also responsible for a book, widely cited by gay-bashers, accusing homosexuals of running the Nazi Party.
Lively first emerged as an anti-gay activist when he became communications director for the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which was backing that state’s notorious Measure 9 vote in 1992. The measure, which failed, would have added language to the state constitution listing homosexuality, along with pedophilia and masochism, as “abnormal behavior.” Lively later served as California director of the American Family Association, another particularly hard-line anti-gay group (see below).
Lively is best known for co-authoring, with Kevin Abrams,The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. The book makes a series of claims that virtually no serious historian agrees with: that Hitler was gay, that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic homosexuals,” and that gays were especially selected for the SS because of their innate brutality. Theclaims are entirely false; in fact, the Nazis murdered significant numbers of gays and made homosexuality a death penalty offense in 1942. In the foreword, Abrams adds that homosexuality is “primarily a predatory addiction striving to take the weak and unsuspecting down with it. … They have no idea of how to act in the best interests of their country… . Their intention is to serve none but themselves.”
Lively has taken his message abroad to Eastern Europe (see Watchmen on the Walls, below), Africa and Russia. In a 2007 open letter to the Russian people, he asserted that “homosexuality is a personality disorder that involves various, often dangerous sexual addictions and aggressive, anti-social impulses.” In 2009, he went to Uganda to speak at a major conference on the evils of homosexuality, saying, among other things: “The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.” He also met with Ugandan lawmakers. A month after Lively left the country, a bill was introduced that called for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts and prison for those who fail to disclose gays’ identities.
In 2008, Lively started the Redemption Gate Mission Society, a church that seeks to “re-Christianize” the city of Springfield, Mass., where he lives.
*American Family Association
Methodist minister Donald E. Wildmon formed the National Federation for Decency in 1977, changing its name to theAmerican Family Association(AFA) in 1988. Today, the group, which was taken over by Tim Wildmon after his father’s 2010 retirement, claims a remarkable 2 million online supporters and 180,000 subscribers to its AFA Journal. It also broadcasts over nearly 200 radio stations.
The AFA seeks to support “traditional moral values,” but in recent years it has seemed to specialize in “combating the homosexual agenda.” In 2009, it hiredBryan Fischer, the former executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, as its director of analysis for government and policy. Taking a page from the anti-gay fabulist Scott Lively (see Abiding Truth Ministries, above), Fischer claimed in a blog post last May 27 that “[h]omosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” (Ironically, the elder Wildmon was widely denounced as an anti-Semite after suggesting that Jews control the media, which the AFA says “shows a genuine hostility towards Christians.”) Fischer has described Hitler as “an active homosexual” who sought out gays “because he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough.” He proposed criminalizing homosexual behavior in another 2010 blog post and has advocated forcing gays into “reparative” therapy. In a 2010 “action alert,” the AFA warned that if homosexuals are allowed to openly serve in the military, “your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals.”
Gays aren’t the AFA’s only enemies. In late 2009, Fischer suggested that all Muslims should be banned from joining the U.S. military. “Islam is a totalitarian political ideology,” Fischer added in August 2010. “It is as racist as the KKK. … Allowing a mosque to be built in town is fundamentally no different that granting a building permit to a KKK cultural center built in honor of some King Kleagle.” A little later, according to the Huffington Post, Fischer said that whatever the government does to “to make it unthinkable for America’s youth to join a white supremacist group,” it should also do “to make it as unthinkable for a resident of America to embrace Islam.” Around the same time, the Huffington Post said, he blogged that Muslim values are “grossly incompatible with American values,” and therefore no place in America should allow a mosque to be built.
And then there are the promiscuous. On his May 26, 2010, radio show, Fischer recounted the biblical story of Phineas, who used a spear to kill a man and a woman who were having sex. Citing the nation’s “rampant sexual immorality,” Fischer said, “God is obviously looking for more Phineases in our day.”
*Americans for Truth About Homosexuality
Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) was formed as a part-time venture in 1996 by long-time gay-basher Peter LaBarbera, who reorganized it in 2006 as a much more serious and influential, if often vicious, operation.
A one-time reporter for the conservative Washington Times, LaBarbera has been an energetic campaigner against “the radical homosexual agenda” since at least 1993, when he launched The Lambda Report, which claimed to do first-hand reporting to expose its gay enemies. Over the years, he has been an official with Accuracy in Media, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council and the Illinois Family Institute (see below for the last three). He left the Illinois Family Institute, where he’d been executive director, in 2006.
AFTAH is notable for its posting of the utterly discredited work of Paul Cameron (of the Family Research Institute; see below), who has claimed that gays and lesbians live vastly shorter lives than heterosexuals. Among the Cameron propaganda published by AFTAH are 2007 claims that gays and lesbians in Norway and Denmark live 24 fewer years than heterosexuals. Reviewing that claim, Danish epidemiologist Morten Frisch found thatit had no scientific basis. LaBarbera himself, in 2002, compared the alleged dangers of homosexuality to those of “smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.” Similarly, AFTAH’s website carries essays describing homosexuality as a “lethal behavior addiction,” a “dangerous” practice that is “neither normal nor benign.”
In 2007, LaBarbera claimed there was “a disproportionate incidence of pedophilia” among gay men — yetanother false assertion. The same year, he posted an open letter to the Lithuanian people from long-time gay-basher Scott Lively (see Abiding Truth Ministries, above), who has made a series of false claims about gays running the German Nazi Party. In the piece posted to the AFTAH website, Lively said homosexuals are trying to take away free speech from all opponents of gays and to silence all religious opinions on the matter.
The AFTAH site repeats bogus claims like the idea that a proposed bill in California would “promote cross-dressing, sex-change operations, bisexuality and homosexuality” to kindergartners and other children. And it ran anessay that falsely assertedthat hate crime laws would “restrict our speech.”
Led since 1986 by Gary DeMar, American Vision is one of the primary exponents of the doctrine of “Christian Reconstruction” — the idea that the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation” and that its democracy should be replaced with a theocratic government based on Old Testament law. As a practical matter, that means American Vision, which describes its goal as “restor[ing] America’s Biblical foundation,” backs the death penalty for practicing homosexuals.
DeMar has modified that dictum slightly in the past, saying that homosexuals wouldn’t all be executed under a “reconstructed” government, but that he did believe that the occasional execution of “sodomites” would serve society well because “the law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectively drives the perversion of homosexuality underground, back into the closet.” More recently, while hosting American Vision’s “The Gary DeMar Show” in December 2009, Joel McDurmon, the group’s research director, agreed that the Bible does call for killing homosexuals. And, he said, “when most of a society is Christian, is biblical, then it [execution of gays] is perfectly normal; it should definitely be in place.”
In April 2009, DeMar said: “Homosexuals aren’t content with only having the bedroom. They have taken their perversion into the classrooms, teaching that such practices are normal. There is nothing normal about what homosexuals do.”
DeMar, who was closely allied with the late D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries (see below), is a central figure in Reconstruction theology, which was founded by R.J. Rushdoony (see Chalcedon Foundation, below). He is co-author of Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t with Gary North.
DeMar has also said that a “long-term goal” should be “the execution of abortionists and their parents.” Islam is another enemy, he said in August 2010: “The long-term goal of Islam is the abolition of our constitutional freedoms.”
TheChalcedon Foundation, named after a 451 A.D. council that proclaimed the state’s subservience to God, was started in 1965 by Rousas John Rushdoony, who is known as “father of Christian Reconstruction” theology. Led by Rushdoony’s son, Mark, since the elder Rushdoony’s death in 2001, the foundation continues to push for the imposition of Old Testament law on America and the world.
Reconstruction, as described in R.J. Rushdoony’s foundational 1973 book The Institutes of Biblical Law, is opposed to modern notions of equality, democracy or tolerance — instead, it embraces the most draconian of religious views. Rushdoony supported the death penalty for homosexuals, among other “abominators.” He also opposed what he called “unequal yoking” — interracial marriage — and “enforced integration,” insisting that “[a]ll men are NOT created equal before God” (the Bible, he explained, “recognizes that some people are by nature slaves”). Rushdoony also denied the Holocaust, saying the murder of 6 million Jews was “false witness.”
Rushdoony’s Reconstruction is indeed radical, even including “incorrigible children” among those deserving death. And virtually all of his works remain for sale on the Chalcedon Foundation website.
Today, most fundamentalist leaders deny holding such views. But a Who’s Who of the religious right — including Tim and Beverly LaHaye (see Concerned Women for America, below), Donald Wildmon (American Family Association, above), and the late D. James Kennedy (Coral Ridge Ministries, below) — once served alongside the elder Rushdoony on the Coalition for Revival, a group formed in 1984 to “reclaim America.” Rushdoony reportedly was also a member of the secretive Council of National Policy, a group of archconservative leaders.
Christian Anti-Defamation Commission
Originally incorporated in 1999 by retired Army Gen. William Hollis, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) says its goal is to serve as a “first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry and discrimination.” It was largely inactive until 2007, when it brought in as its new leader the Rev. Gary Cass, who claims that Christian-bashing, “the last acceptable form of bigotry in America, is alive and well and growing more intense and hysterical by the day.”
The CADC is heavily focused on the alleged evils of homosexuality. It has called the idea of allowing gays to serve openly in the military “evil”; opposed hate crimes legislation (which many religious-right groupsfalsely assertwould make it easy to send pastors to prison for condemning homosexuality); and raged against a judge’s overturning of California’s Proposition 8, which had invalidated same-sex marriages. With regard to that last, it said: “Homosexuals have turned away from humbly worshipping the true and living God and his transcendent moral order in order to make an idol out of their sexual perversion and chaos.”
The group also has protested a lawsuit seeking to end public use of the motto, “In God We Trust”; encouraged the IRS to investigate the anti-theocratic Americans United for Separation of Church and State; and opposed a proposed Islamic center in New York City, saying Muslims “are exploiting the liberty we afford them to honor a murderous ideology that denies religious liberty every where [sic] it can.”
Although it is somewhat benign by comparison, the CADC has an advisory board that includes some of the country’s most hard-line anti-gay activists: Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition (see below); Donald Wildmon, the founder of the American Family Association (above); and O’Neal Dozier, a pastor who wrote in his 2008 book that “[h]omosexuality not only spreads disease and neutralizes God’s command,” but also “destroys families.” The board also includes Carmen Mercer, a former top official of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a now-defunct nativist group that once ran its own armed civilian border patrols.
Concerned Women for America
San Diego, Calif., activist Beverly LaHaye, whose husband Tim would go on to become famous as co-author of the Left Behind novels depicting the end times, started Concerned Women for America (CWA) in 1979 to create an anti-feminist group that matched the power of the National Organization for Women. Today, CWA claims more than 500,000 members organized into state chapters, a radio program that reaches more than 1 million listeners, and a cadre of attorneys and researchers devoted to the group’s mission of promoting biblical values.
LaHaye has blamed gay people for a “radical leftist crusade” in America and, over the years, has occasionallyequated homosexuality with pedophilia. In 2001, she hired prominent anti-gay propagandists Robert Knight (now with Coral Ridge Ministries; see below) and Peter LaBarbera (now with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, above) to launch CWA’s Culture and Family Institute. Matt Barber was CWA’s policy director for cultural issues in 2007 and 2008 before moving on to similar work with the Liberty Counsel (below).
While at CWA, on April 12, 2007, Barber suggested againstall the evidencethat there were only a “miniscule number” of anti-gay hate crimes and most of those “may very well be rooted in fraudulent reports.” In comments that have since disappeared from CWA’s website, Barber demanded a federal probe of “homosexual activists” for their alleged fabrications of hate crime reports.
CWA long relied on and displayed Knight’s articles and talking points, including claims that “homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks” and “gay marriage entices children to experiment with homosexuality.” Most remarkably, Knight cited the utterly discredited work of Paul Cameron (see Family Research Institute, below) to bolster claims that homosexuality is harmful.
Today, CWA continues to make arguments against homosexuality on the basis of dubious claims. President Wendy Wright said this August that gay activists were using same-sex marriage “to indoctrinate children in schools to reject their parents’ values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree.” Last year, CWA accused the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group that works to stop anti-gay bullying in schools, of using that mission as a cover to promote homosexuality in schools, adding that “teaching students from a young age that the homosexual lifestyle is perfectly natural … will [cause them to] develop into adults who are desensitized to the harmful, immoral reality of sexual deviance.”
Coral Ridge Ministries
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The late Rev. D. James Kennedy started turning fundamentalist Coral Ridge Presbyterian into a mega-church in the 1960s, adding Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) as its action arm in 1974 and claiming some 10,000 members by the 1990s. During the fiscal year ending in June 2009, CRM raised almost $18 million and spent more than $6 million of that on television and radio outreach efforts.
Over the years, Kennedy emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. He recommended as “essential” the virulent work of R.J. Rushdoony (see Chalcedon Foundation, above), who believed practicing gays should be executed. In an especially nasty 1989 edition of a CRM newsletter, Kennedy ran photographs of children along with the tagline, “Sex With Children? Homosexuals Say Yes!”
After Kennedy died in 2007, Coral Ridge Presbyterian seemed to change course, merging in 2009 with New City Presbyterian Church under its pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham. Tchividjian began to move the church away from divisive social issues; some 500 members of Coral Ridge, including Kennedy’s daughter, left as a result. Today, Tchividjian says that the church, with 2,400 congregants, is entirely separate from CRM.
CRM, however, has continued its hard-line course. In 2009, it hired anti-gay activist Robert Knight as a senior writer and Washington, D.C., correspondent. Knight has used the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron (see Family Research Institute, below). In one recent essay on the CRM website, he argued against allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military, saying that “Bible-believing Christians would quickly find themselves unwelcome in Barney Frank’s new pansexual, cross-dressing military.” (Hector Padron, CRM’s executive vice president, wrote last May that such a change would post a “grave threat to the military.”)
In 2002, before joining CRM, Knight wrote that gay marriage “entices children to experiment with homosexuality” and that accepting homosexuality leads to “a loss of stability in communities, with a rise in crime, sexually transmitted diseases and other social pathologies. Still another is a shortage of employable, stable people.”
*Dove World Outreach Center
The Dove World Outreach Center was founded in 1986 by Don Northrup and described itself as a “total concept church” in which all would be served. But Northrup died in 1996, and his successor brought in long-time Northrup associateTerry Jonesas Dove’s leader in 2001. Since then, Jones has spouted increasingly vicious attacks on gays and Muslims, culminating in a plan that drew worldwide condemnation this September to hold an “International Burn a Koran Day.”
Jones and his family had spent some 20 years in Cologne, Germany, running a church that was allied with Dove. When he was asked to take over the Gainesville church, he apparently divided his time between the two until 2008, when the Cologne church was closed amid criticism of Jones by its congregants.
Jones pushed himself into the headlines last March, when he surrounded Dove with signs aimed at Craig Lowe, a Gainesville city commissioner who was running for mayor, that said “No Homo Mayor.” After an electioneering complaint was filed with the IRS (nonprofit churches cannot intervene in political campaigns), Jones had the signs shortened to the more generic “No Homo.” At one point, Jones and 30 of his congregants joined an anti-gay rally by theWestboro Baptist Church, which runs the Godhatesfags.com website and regularly pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers, saying God is killing soldiers because America is a “fag-enabling” nation.
Jones is also the author of a book entitled Islam is of the Devil, and he has used that phrase on another set of signs posted around his church and sent his followers’ children to school in T-shirts bearing that slogan. (The school refused to let the children wear the shirts, and the ACLU filed suit against it as a result.) He regularly repeats the phrase on his “Braveheart Show,” an Internet video program where he asserted last April that “[h]omosexuality makes God throw up.”
Jones and his tiny congregation became momentarily famous this September, when he said he would burn Korans to protest Islam, which he describes as “an evil religion.” The threat drew public condemnation from Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and several leading members of the Obama Administration, and sparked anti-U.S. rallies in Muslim countries. In the end, Jones withdrew his threat and rapidly sank back into political obscurity.
*Faithful Word Baptist Church
Steven Anderson, formerly affiliated with Sacramento, Calif.-based Regency Baptist Church, started Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona on Christmas Day 2005 as a “totally independent” organization. With “well over a hundred chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word,” Anderson quickly led his congregation into a series of extremely radical stands.
Much of his venom was aimed at homosexuals, who he suggests should be killed (“The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals”). In an August 2009 sermon, he attacked the United Methodist Church, saying “10% of their preachers are queers” and adding, “they got a dyke and a faggot behind the pulpit.” He has described gays as “sodomites” who “recruit through rape” and “recruit through molestation.”
Anderson is also a virulent government hater. As operator of the True Sons of Liberty website, the pastor calls for abolishing the IRS, the Federal Reserve, Social Security and Child Protective Services state agencies. In April 2009, he refused to get out of his car or answer questions from Border Patrol agents at the California-Arizona border. Agents broke his window and tased him as a result.
Anderson brought his church national notoriety in August 2009, when a member of his congregation, Christopher Broughton, went to an Obama appearance in Phoenix legally carrying an assault rifle and a pistol. It turned out that Anderson had preached a day earlier to Broughton and others that he “hates Obama” and would “pray that he dies and goes to hell.” Two weeks later, he told openly gay columnist Michelangelo Signorile that he “would not judge or condemn” anyone who killed the president. Then, for good measure, he told Signorile at the end of the interview, “If you’re a homosexual, I hope you get brain cancer and die like Ted Kennedy.”
*Family Research Council
Started as a small think tank in 1983, theFamily Research Council(FRC) merged in 1988 with the much larger religious-right group Focus on the Family in 1988, and brought on Gary Bauer, former U.S. undersecretary of education under Ronald Reagan, as president. In 1992, the two groups legally separated to protect Focus on the Family’s tax-exempt status, although Focus founder James Dobson and two other Focus officials were placed on the FRC’s newly independent board. By that time, FRC had become a powerful group on its own.
Headed since 2003 by former Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins, the FRC has been a font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history. It relies on the work of Robert Knight, who also worked at Concerned Women for America but now is at Coral Ridge Ministries (see above for both), along with that of FRC senior research fellows Tim Dailey (hired in 1999) and Peter Sprigg (2001). Both Dailey and Sprigg have pushedfalse accusationslinking gay men to pedophilia: Sprigg has written that most men who engage in same-sex child molestation “identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual,” and Dailey and Sprigg devoted an entire chapter of their 2004 bookGetting It Straightto similar material. The men claimed that “homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses” and similarly asserted that “homosexuals are attracted in inordinate numbers to boys.”
That’s the least of it. In a 1999 publication (Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia) that has since disappeared from its website, the FRC claimed that “one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order,” according to unrefuted research by AMERICAblog. The same publication argued that “homosexual activists publicly disassociate themselves from pedophiles as part of a public relations strategy.” FRC offered no evidence for these remarkable assertions, and has never publicly retracted the allegations. (The American Psychological Association, among others, has concluded that “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.”)
In fact, in a Nov. 30, 2010, debate on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”between Perkins and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok, Perkins defended FRC’s association of gay men with pedophilia, saying: “If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children. So Mark is wrong. He needs to go back and do his own research.” In fact, the college, despite its hifalutin name, is a tiny, explicitly religious-right breakaway group from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 60,000-member association of the profession. Publications of the American College of Pediatricians, which has some 200 members, have been roundly attacked by leading scientific authorities who say they are baseless and accuse the college of distorting and misrepresenting their work.
Elsewhere, according to AMERICAblog, Knight, while working at the FRC, claimed that “[t]here is a strong current of pedophilia in the homosexual subculture. … [T]hey want to promote a promiscuous society.” AMERICAblog also reported that then-FRC official Yvette Cantu, in an interview published on Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s website, said, “If they [gays and lesbians] had children, what would happen when they were too busy having their sex parties?”
More recently, in March 2008, Sprigg, responding to a question about uniting gay partners during the immigration process, said: “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them.” He later apologized, but then went on, last February, to tell MSNBC host Chris Matthews, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior.” “So we should outlaw gay behavior?” Matthews asked. “Yes,” Sprigg replied. At around the same time, Sprigg claimed that allowing gay people to serve openly in the military would lead to an increase in gay-on-straight sexual assaults.
Perkins has his own unusual history. In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican State Rep. Louis “Woody” Jenkins of Louisiana, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Klan chieftain David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 (reduced from $82,500) after Perkins and Jenkins filed false disclosure forms in a bid to hide the link to Duke. Five years later, on May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of theCouncil of Conservative Citizens(CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins claimed not to know the group’s ideology at the time, but it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation. In 1999, after Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was embroiled in a national scandal over his ties to the group, GOP chairman Jim Nicholson urged Republicans to quit the CCC because of its “racist views.” That statement and the nationally publicized Lott controversy came two years before Perkins’ 2001 speech.
*Family Research Institute
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Started in 1987 by psychologistPaul Cameron, the Family Research Institute (FRI) has become the anti-gay movement’s main source for what Cameron claims is “cutting-edge research” — but is, in fact, completely discredited junk science pushed out by a man who has been condemned by three professional organizations.
Over nearly three decades, Cameron has published “research studies” (though almost never in peer-reviewed journals) that suggest that homosexuals are predatory and diseased perverts who victimize children. Among his more recent defamations was an FRI pamphlet asserting the primary activity of the gay rights movement is “seeking to legitimize child-adult homosexual sex.” In another, he claimed that with “the rise of the gay rights movement, homosexual rape of men appears to have increased.” In yet another, he wrote, “Homosexuals were three times more likely to admit to having made an obscene phone call” and “a third more apt to report a traffic ticket or traffic accident in the past 5 years.”
Some of Cameron’s moreinfamous claimsinclude the idea that homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals and that homosexuals have extremely short lives. Last February, he wrote on FRI’s website that “[i]f homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military, they will be recruiting in showers, having sex in the barracks… . Before long, the U.S. may be defended by the sex-obsessed and those who can tolerate kowtowing to them.” After all, writes Cameron — a man who proposes that parents promote teen heterosexual activity to keep kids straight — “homosexual sex overwhelms rationality [and] overwhelms the desire to serve.”
Cameron’s colleagues have condemned him repeatedly. In 1983, he was thrown out of the American Psychological Association for ethical violations. In 1984, the Nebraska Psychological Association disassociated itself from Cameron’s statements about sexuality. In 1985, the American Sociological Association adopted a resolution saying Cameron “has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality” and “repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men”; the following year, the same group formally condemned Cameron for that misrepresentation of research.
In late 2010, reacting to reports that his group had once again been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, Cameron toldThe(Colorado Springs, Colo.)Gazettethat he believed homosexuality should be criminalized in America and that he was fine with aproposed bill in Ugandathat would punish some gay sexual acts with death (“Whatever they decide, I’m OK with”). He also proposed heavily taxing gays and single adults because of their failure to produce children. And he suggested that gays and lesbians undergo a “public shaming” of some kind.
Despite all this — and the fact that Cameron’s propaganda is widely known to be false or misleading — many groups have continued to use his claims, though often without citing their source. They include the American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, the Family Research Council (see above for all five) and, until recently, the Illinois Family Institute (see below).
*Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment
Downers Grove, Ill.
Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME) was founded by 62-year-old Wayne Lela, a former Catholic who now describes himself as an agnostic. Until recently, the 20-year-old group has had a fairly low profile.
The group, which is entirely focused on the alleged evils of homosexuality, attacks gay people on a wide variety of levels. But it keeps coming back to the idea that gay sexual activity should be illegal. “[P]enalizing people for engaging in homosexual behavior is clearly not discrimination, just like penalizing people for exhibitionism or incest is not discrimination,” HOME’s website says. In a second website comment, it adds, “[H]eterosexual activity is not illegalizeable … while homosexual activity is definitely illegalizeable.” And in a third, it insists that “legalizing homosexual deviations” leads to a “confused and sick society.”
HOME doesn’t stop there. It says that gays should apologize “for all the STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] they’ve spread, and all the money those STDs have cost, and especially for setting bad moral examples for our children.” It accuses homosexuals of having a “pathological attitude” toward the opposite sex. It says homosexuality shouldn’t have been removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. It says gays threaten free speech because they seek hate crime law protections. It argues that gay film directors are working to “condition men to bond with other men at the expense of women.” And it claims that pedophilia and necrophilia are a sexual orientations like homosexuality, going on to suggest thatthey could therefore be legalized.
And then there’s this: Freemasonry may be connected to “the homosexual movement,” with members evidently engaging in sodomy and “homosexual orgies.” Thus, HOME says, there is a “very real possibility that this group is using its influence to try to impose pro-homosexual ‘values’ on the public.”
*Illinois Family Institute
Carol Stream, Ill.
The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), which says it dedicates itself to issues surrounding “marriage, family, life and liberty,” is heavily focused on attacking gay people and homosexuality in general. It maintains “working partnerships” with other hard-line groups including the Family Research Council (see above) and the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal center based in Phoenix. In early 2010, it launched Illinois Family Action as a political-action sister organization.
In 2006, then-Executive Director Peter LaBarbera (see Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, above), told a religious-right gathering hosted by Vision America that homosexuality was “disgusting” and demanded the closing down of all “homosexual establishments.” He called for the repeal of all “sexual orientation laws” — laws that ban discrimination against gays — and spoke of the “need to find ways to bring back shame to those practicing homosexual behavior.”
Over the years, the group also has occasionally embraced the groundless propaganda of Paul Cameron (see Family Research Institute, above). Until 2009, it carried an article on Cameron — “New Study Shows that Homosexuals Live 20 Fewer Years” — preceded by a full-throated endorsement LaBarbera. “Paul Cameron’s work has been targeted for ridicule by homosexual activists, and he’s been demonized by the left,” LaBarbera wrote in his introduction, “but that should not discount his findings.” IFI also posted a video attacking school anti-bullying programs that claimed, based on Cameron, that gay men’s median age of death is 42. Both were removed in response to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2009 listing of IFI as a hate group, which was largely based on its use of Cameron.
That response, however, hardly indicated that the IFI was backing down on its hard-line position. This year, Focus on the Family — for years, the powerhouse of anti-gay religious organizations in America — moderated its position markedly after founder James Dobson retired and pastor Jim Daly took over. In April, Daly told an interviewer: “I will continue to defend traditional marriage, but I’m not going to demean human beings in the process. It’s not about being highly confrontational.” The response of Laurie Higgins, IFI’s belligerent director of school advocacy, was that Daly was showing “surprising naïveté,” using the same language as pro-gay “homosexualists,” and failing to confront “the pro-homosexual juggernaut.”
In 2009, Higgins compared homosexuality to Nazism, likening the German Evangelical Church’s weak response to fascism to the “American church’s failure to respond appropriately to the spread of radical, heretical, destructive views of homosexuality.” Elsewhere, Higgins has pined for the days when gays were in the closet. “There was something profoundly good for society about the prior stigmatization of homosexual practice… . [W]hen homosexuals were ‘in the closet,’ (along with fornicators, polyamorists, cross-dressers, and ‘transexuals’), they weren’t acquiring and raising children.” She’s also said that McDonald’s, because it ran a gay-friendly TV ad, is “hell bent on using its resources to promote subversive moral, social, and political views about homosexuality to our children.”
Created in 1989, Liberty Counsel is affiliated with Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., a legacy of the late conservative icon Jerry Falwell. It was founded and is still chaired by Mathew (Mat) Staver, who also serves as director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy at Liberty University, and provides legal assistance with regard to religious liberty, abortion and the family.
The organization may be best known for its campaigns to ensure that “public displays of religion” are maintained during the Christmas holiday, and it has adopted broad right-wing views, including the allegation that the Obama Administration has a “socialist liberal agenda.” But it also has focused heavily on anti-gay activism.
In 2009, J. Matt Barber, formerly with Concerned Women for America and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (see above for both), joined Liberty Counsel as director of cultural affairs (also becoming Liberty University’s associate dean for career and professional development). A year earlier, Barber had argued that given “medical evidence about the dangers of homosexuality,” it should be considered “criminally reckless for educators to teach children that homosexual conduct is a normal, safe and perfectly acceptable alternative.”
The Counsel also has been active in battling same-sex marriage, saying it would destroy the “bedrock of society.” In 2005, the group’s blog said: “People who … support the radical homosexual agenda will not rest until marriage has become completely devalued. Children will suffer most from this debauchery.” A 2007 blog posting said same-sex marriage would “severely impact future generations.”
Like other anti-gay groups, Liberty Counsel argues that hate crime laws are “actually ‘thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom and of conscience” — an opinion rejected by the Supreme Court. In fact, the laws raise penalties for crimes already on the books — assault, murder and so on — that were motivated by hatred of peoplebased on their sexual orientation. They do not, and could not under the Constitution, punish people for voicing opinions.
Since 2006, Liberty Counsel has also run its “Change is Possible” campaign with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays to protect people who say they’ve changed from gay to straight from “discrimination” by “intolerant homosexuals.”
MassResistance, “the leading pro-family grassroots activist group in Massachusetts,” began life in 1995 as the Parents’ Rights Coalition, became the Article 8 Alliance in 2003, and took on its current name in 2006. Its leader, Brian Camenker, is a programmer who was an official of the Article 8 Alliance and also headed the Newton, Mass., chapter of the National Taxpayers’ Association.
As president of yet another group, the Interfaith Coalition of Massachusetts, Camenker spearheaded the drafting of a bill that passed in 1996 and required that parents be notified of any sex education in their children’s schools. That same year, Camenker claimed that suicide prevention programs aimed at gay youth actually were “put together by homosexual activists to normalize homosexuality.” Later, MassResistance charged that groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which support school anti-bullying programs, actually want to lure children into homosexuality and, very possibly, sadomasochism.
At a 2006 religious right gathering in Washington, D.C., Camenker insisted that gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals. “One bill in Massachusetts takes away all the penalties for bestiality,” he claimed. “This is where this [homosexual] agenda is going.” A little later, he added, “They [gays and lesbians] are pushing perversion on our kids.”
In 2006-2007, Mass-Resistance pushed for an amendment of the 1996 statute that would have required that parents be notified of any discussion of gay or lesbian issues in the schools. The group proposed language that lumped sexual orientation (which includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality) in with criminal behaviors like bestiality and polygamy. During legislative testimony supporting the amendment, Camenkerfalsely claimedthat no homosexuals died in the Holocaust and that the pink triangle the Nazis forced imprisoned gays to wear actually signified Catholic priests. The amendment did not pass.
Camenker, who has long focused on the purported “homosexual agenda” in the schools and frequently claimed gays are dangerous to kids, has repeatedly cited discredited claims from organizations like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality that link homosexuality and pedophilia.
In 2008, Camenker made another accusation for which there was no supporting evidence at all — the claim that the state of Massachusetts had had to spend more money every year since same-sex marriage became legal in that state. That, he said, was because of “skyrocketing homosexual domestic violence” and because of the “extreme dysfunctional nature of homosexual relationships.”
This year, MassResistance called Boston Gay Pride events a “depraved” display that featured “a great deal of obviously disturbed, dysfunctional, and extremely self-centered people whose aim was to push their agenda.”
National Organization for Marriage
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is dedicated to fighting same-sex marriage in state legislatures, was organized in 2007 by conservative syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher and Princeton University politics professor Robert George. George is an influential Christian thinker who co-authored the 2009 “Manhattan Declaration,” a manifesto developed after a New York meeting of conservative church leaders that “promises resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same sex marriage.”
NOM’s first public campaign was in 2008, supporting California’s Proposition 8, which sought to invalidate same-sex marriage in that state. It was widely mocked, including in a parody by satirist Stephen Colbert, for the “Gathering Storm” video ad it produced at the time. Set to somber music and a dark and stormy background, the ad had actors expressing fears that gay activism would “take away” their rights, change their lifestyle, and force homosexuality on their kids.
The group, whose president is now former executive director Brian Brown, has become considerably more sophisticated since then, emphasizing its respect for homosexuals. “Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,” NOM says on its website, “[but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
For a time, NOM’s name was used by a bus driver named Louis Marinelli, who drove a van for NOM’s “Summer for Marriage Tour” this year. Marinelli called himself a “NOM strategist” and sent out electronic messages under the NOM logo that repeatedfalsehoods about homosexualsbeing pedophiles and gay men having extremely short lifespans. In homemade videos posted on his own YouTube page, he said same-sex marriage would lead to “prostitution, pedophilia and polygamy.” But this July, NOM said it was not associated with Marinelli.
*Traditional Values Coalition
Former Presbyterian minister Lou Sheldon has been warning Americans about the “gay threat” since 1980, when he founded the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which also is concerned with abortion and national security and takes on liberal activists on a range of issues. The TVC, which today claims to speak for 43,000 churches, lobbies Congress and also mobilizes churches to oppose legislation that it disagrees with. Sheldon’s daughter Andrea Lafferty, a former Reagan Administration official, serves as executive director of the organization.
The group has at times enjoyed remarkable access to the halls of power — during the George W. Bush Administration, Sheldon and Lafferty visited the White House a combined 69 times, meeting personally with Bush in eight of the visits. But that does not mean that it has not long had a record of extreme gay-bashing.
In 1985, Sheldon suggested forcing AIDS victims into “cities of refuge.” In 1992, columnist Jimmy Breslin said that Sheldon told him that “homosexuals are dangerous. They proselytize. They come to the door, and if your son answers and nobody is there to stop it, they grab the son and run off with him. They steal him. They take him away and turn him into a homosexual.” Sheldon later denied that he made the comments, but his website today includes strikingly similar language: “[S]ince homosexuals can’t reproduce, they will simply go after your children for seduction and conversion to homosexuality.” Elsewhere, it claims that “[t]he effort to push adult/child sex … is part of the overall homosexual movement.”
The TVC also asserts that “it is evident that homosexuals molest children at a far greater rate than do their heterosexual counterparts” — afalsehoodbased on conflating male-male molestation with homosexuality. Gays, it says, molest children at “epidemic rates,” adding: “As homosexuals continue to make inroads into public schools, more children will be molested and indoctrinated into the world of homosexuality. Many of them will die in that world.” With regard to LGBT teen suicides, TVC, under the headline “Homosexual Urban Legends,” claims that “[t]he cold, hard fact is that teens who are struggling with homosexual feelings are more likely to be sexually molested by a homosexual school counselor or teacher than to commit suicide over their feelings of despair.”
The TVC also makes assertions on its website about disproportionate homosexual pedophilia and attacks the idea that people are born gay and the claim that gays want the right to marry for the same reasons that heterosexuals do — the TVC suggests the real purpose of marriage equality is to destroy the concept of marriage and ultimately replace it altogether with group sex and polygamy.
Whether or not what Mitt Romney did as a teenager matters now, the way some conservatives are defending him, you’d think homosexuals didn’t exist until Halston, Calvin Klein, and Liza were discovered dancing at Studio 54 circa 1978.
“For those to the premises more recently arrived, a quick primer on 1965, when this occurred,” wrote syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, responding to critics who’ve described Romney’s forcible cutting of the dyed-blond hair of a nonconforming student as anti-gay bullying. “Nobody knew who was or wasn’t ‘gay,’ a word that wasn’t yet in popular circulation as a noun and generally meant ‘merry.’ Homosexuality wasn’t on most high-school kids’ radar, period. If anything, Romney may not have liked Lauber’s ‘hippie’ locks, which is the more likely case given the era.”
Really? Check out the synopsis for the 1956 film by a much earlier Minnelli, Liza’s dad Vincente. Tea and Sympathy was adapted from the popular 1953 Broadway play of the same name, and Romney and his prep school buddies might as well have been acting out the plot: “Tom Robinson Lee, a 17-year old student at a boy’s prep school, is at odds with the other boys who like sports, talking about girls, and listening to pop music. Tom prefers classical music, reads books, can sew, goes to the theater, and generally seems to be more at ease in the company of women. The other boys torment him for his ‘unmanly’ qualities and call him ‘sister boy.’”
I don’t know what kind of sheltered life Kathleen Parker led, but homosexuality has been on high-school kids’ radars — particularly the radars of high-school boys — for as long as masculinity has been on their radars, which in Western culture would take us back to the ancient Greeks and the Roman gladiators, I imagine. But even if we don’t want to go back that far, suffice it to say that queer boys were defined in American culture surely since Oscar Wilde was carted off to prison for being a “sodomite” in 1895.
While there were times in the early part of the 20th century when homosexuality was more accepted in some cities (as historian George Chuancey describes in Gay New York, in which he also shows that the word “gay” most certainly existed then), the 1950s saw a homosexual panic that gripped American politics, media, and culture. In 1950 Sen. Joseph McCarthy began his investigations that led to the purging of alleged Communists and homosexuals from the government. In 1951 a popular book called Washington Confidential, co-written by New York Mirror columnist Lee Mortimer, captured the tenor of the time in a chapter titled, “A Garden of Pansies”:
If you’re wondering where your wandering semi-boy is tonight, he’s probably in Washington. The good people shook their heads in disbelief at the revelation that over 90 twisted twerps in trousers had been swished out of the state department. Fly commentators seized on it for gags about fags, whimsy with overtones of Kinsey and the odor of lavender. We pursued the subject and found that there are at least 6000 homosexuals on the government payroll, most of them known, and these comprise only a fraction of the total of their kind in the city.
Tea and Sympathy premiered on Broadway and was made into a film in the midst of that panic. (And you can read all about the context in this paper by film historian David Gerstner, who also happens to be my partner). The McCarthy era and the targeting of homosexuals spurred the first gay and lesbian activists, like the recently deceased pioneer Frank Kameny, who was ejected from the Army Map Service for being gay in 1957.
That first brave but tepid organizing only escalated the panic, which continued well into the 1960s. In 1963, two years before Romney’s prep school “prank,” the anti-gay metro editor of The New York Times, Abe Rosenthal, became alarmed after returning from overseas and seeing so many gay men on the streets of Manhattan. In response he commissioned a piece that was put on the front page of the paper of record, which blared with this headline: “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern.”
Those years, the mid-‘60s, were in fact a critical time for the gay-rights movement: It was going to either burst forth, as it eventually did in 1969, with the Stonewall riots, or be suppressed further by the kind of attitudes that empowered high-school boys of the time to hold down a kid perceived as gay and forcibly cut his hair.
It matters today what Mitt Romney did then, even as a high-school student, because the country has moved on from that time of panic into a different place. It would tell us a lot about him, and the kind of leader he would be, if, rather than denying it or suppressing it, he were able to explain how he moved on and, as others have said, if he were able to use his story to shed some light on the anti-gay bullying we still see today.
She prays that one day she will face the people who killed her daughter and find out why they did it.
“I want to know, that’s the point,” she says. “I want those who did this thing to my child to be arrested, all of them.”
Almost 4 months after Pasca was murdered, no-one has been arrested.
For many LGBTI people and their families in South Africa, safety, justice, and the promise of a truly rainbow nation still feel a long way off.
South Africa’s constitution was the first in the world to protect people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. The country was also the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. But after a spate of murders, gay people say more needs to be done to stop hate crimes.
Betty Melamu sits on a brown leather sofa in her living room in the township of Evaton, just south of Johannesburg. She’s cradling a framed picture of her daughter Motshidisi Pascalina, known as Pasca.
In a quiet, wavering voice, she sings Pasca’s favourite song.
“Whenever she would listen to radio or go to church she would sing that song,” she remembers.
When I ask if Pasca was a good singer she says, “Yes,” and laughs – apparently Pasca was more spirited than talented, constantly switching between parts as she sang.
She loved football too, studied hard at school and wanted to be a politician.
“She wanted to do something good,” says Melamu with pride.
But the laughter and happy memories are fleeting, and sadness is etched in her thin, drawn face. Pasca was a lesbian, something her family knew and accepted. She had just turned 21 and completed her final high school exams when she went to a party in December.
“I don’t know what happened after the party,” says Melamu. “But she didn’t come back.”
Two days later Pasca’s body was found in a field in a neighbouring township. She had been beaten and mutilated. At the morgue her family couldn’t recognise her face and could only identify her by a tattoo on her leg.
“At that time I was strong,” Melamu remembers. “But after that I feel like I am crazy woman.”
And as we talk, she repeats one question, over and over.
“Why? Why did this happen to my child?”
Pasca was was born in 1994, the year apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela was elected president – she was one of the first of South Africa’s so-called born free generation.
In his inauguration speech, Mandela promised to “build a society in which all South Africans will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts… a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”
But 21 years later, this promise remains largely unfulfilled for the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.
In a country where crime rates in general are high, black lesbians in poor townships face particular risks and often suffer the most violent crimes.
As women, they’re vulnerable in a country with one of the highest rates of rape in the world. As lesbians in an often homophobic and patriarchal society, they face a further danger – the idea that they can be “changed” and “made into women” through what is known as “corrective rape”.
It’s suspected this may have happened to Pasca, although the post-mortem was unable to determine this.
And when crimes happen, there’s no guarantee that the response will be adequate. Victims say they often face secondary harassment by police or health care workers.
Pasca’s case was assigned to a police officer who was on leave at the time, only returning to work two and a half weeks later.
Frustrated at the delay in this and two other rape cases, in January activists took to the streets of Evaton with rainbow flags and banners. Chanting “Pasca is our sister,” they marched to the local police station to demand justice.
“The police are not doing anything,” Lindiwe Nhlapo told me several weeks later. She’s part of Vaal LGBTI, one of the groups that organised the march. “The police are failing us big time.”
Since then, the police have tried to address concerns about the investigation into Pasca’s death, but frustration with the justice system is a common story.
In the nearby township of KwaThema, silver drapes and rainbow flags adorn the living room of the small house that’s the headquarters of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC).
There’s also a bar down one end and a sign on the wall – Divas and Dykes Lounge. Day or night, this is a safe place for gay and transgender people to socialise.
“I can’t walk with my partner on the street and hold their hand,” says Bontle Kahlo, from EPOC. “I can’t go out at night and say ‘I’m going to dance somewhere,’ because I’m not safe. I might get killed because of who I am, because of who I love.”
She points to a frame on the wall containing photos of dozens of LGBTI men and women.
“This is our memory wall,” she says. Some of them died of natural causes, but many of the lesbians in the pictures were murdered because of their sexual orientation.
“Women are less than men,” says Kahlo. “If you’re a black woman, you are even less, and if you’re a black lesbian woman you are basically nothing in this country.”
Among the faces on the wall is Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian who was raped, mutilated and murdered in 2011.
But five years later, no-one has been prosecuted.
“The feeling we got from the police is that they expected us to do all the work for them,” says Kahlo.
“It’s very tiring to be an activist but to also be a police officer and to try as hard as you can, and to have a government which is not supportive.”
Her partner and fellow campaigner Ntuspe Mohapi nods in agreement.
“They’re good at talking but not at acting,” she says.
When they heard about Pasca’s murder, there was a familiar sadness.
“I think it’s getting worse,” Mohapi says. “And these are just the cases of murder that we are talking about. We haven’t started with rape, or hate speech, and the bullying in schools, and the suicides of gay teenagers.”
South African law doesn’t classify hate crimes differently from other crimes, so there are no official statistics to turn to.
The organisation Iranti-org is funded by the EU to document violence against LGBTI people – it has counted more than 30 murders and rapes in the country since 2012.
Pasca was just one of three LGBTI people killed in South Africa during a six week period late last year. The deaths barely received a mention in the mainstream media.
There hasn’t always been a lack of interest though. After the murder of Noxolo Nogwaza and several other lesbians in 2011, there was a global outcry. 170,000 people signed a petition calling on the government to act.
In response, the government set up a National Task Team and drew up a National Intervention Strategy to reduce hate crimes.
It also established a Rapid Response Team to make sure that hate crimes are properly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. This has had some success in clearing a backlog of murders and other crimes.
But the government is not doing enough says Mpaseka “Steve” Letsike, co-chairwoman of the National Task Team and head of LGBTI organisation Access Chapter 2.
“We are not getting it right. There’s a huge gap. We need to invest our energies into prevention, into conversations, into dialogues.”
The government is doing some of this – funding awareness campaigns and training police and health workers. But “it’s still a drop in the ocean,” says Letsike.
To get a sense of the challenge South Africa faces, I travel to the Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville. It’s home to many migrants from more traditional, rural parts of the country.
In a tiny room, barely big enough for a bed and a fridge, I perch on an upturned bucket and speak to two men. The elder of the two speaks softly, but has a fearsome clarity when our conversation turns to homosexuality.
“Homosexuality is a taboo to us,” he says. “I’ll go back to African traditions, there’s no word for that in our language.”
I ask what would happen if one of his daughters told him she was a lesbian.
“I might kill her myself. That thing is unnatural, it’s awkward, so I cannot accept something that is awkward in my house.
“If someone said choose between keeping this child or killing it, I would kill it.”
His views reflect the gap between the law and the attitude of many South Africans. It shows that the government has failed to create a truly rainbow nation, say activists.
“Conditions for LGBTI people in South Africa have improved substantially since 1994,” says John Jeffery, deputy minister of justice and constitutional development. His department is responsible for the National Intervention Strategy.
“We are trying to educate people about LGBTI rights, that gay rights are human rights,” he says, and adds that he is frustrated with the criticism.
“There’s no use complaining outside that government is not doing enough,” he says. “I unfortunately have not heard proposals from civil society organisations about things we should be doing that we’re not doing. They need to tell us where they think we should be improving.”
While open to suggestions, he says there are limits to what he can do.
“More could be done, but the extent to which we can run awareness programmes would depend on budget and what money we’ve got, and unfortunately government is facing budget cuts.”
The government is currently in the process of preparing legislation to outlaw hate crimes and hate speech, which should allow better monitoring of crimes and, it’s hoped, reduce homophobic abuse.
“There’s no magic solution, it’s a process and that process takes time,” says Jeffery.
Betty Melamu is still waiting.
She prays that one day she will face the people who killed her daughter and find out why they did it.
“I want to know, that’s the point,” she says. “I want those who did this thing to my child to be arrested, all of them.”
Almost 4 months after Pasca was murdered, no-one has been arrested.
For many LGBTI people and their families in South Africa, safety, justice, and the promise of a truly rainbow nation still feel a long way off.
This litany of gay hate, murder and violence goes on everywhere in the world. Here in Australia alone there are, in Sydney, about 80 unsolved gay murders from the 80s alone. It is not a pleasant subject, but it’s a reality, and whether we like it or not, like war, it is part of our history. This article only goes up to June 2016 – it would be frightening to know the further extent of this awful violence since that date. It is a constant reminder to us that even in what we consider gay-safe spaces…we are not safe!
When a radiant President Obama declared June LGBTQ Pride month, he told the American people that “despite the extraordinary progress of the past few years, LGBT Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are.” Nobody could have imagined how that statement would take on a tragic enormity just days later.
Sunday, Obama addressed the American LGBTQ community and the rest of the nation again to talk about the worst mass shooting in our history. He talked about the unthinkable contrast of the horror that happened in the early hours of Sunday morning in Orlando: “The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.”
Less than two weeks before the country prepares to celebrate one year of marriage equality, the sight of two men kissing on the street is terrifying enough to someone that a hatred-fueled massacre we experienced at the Pulse in Orlando can be the result.
Unfortunately, Orlando is hardly the first major deadly attack against an LGBT bar or landmark.
Until today, the deadliest attack had been in New Orleans, over 40 years ago. On the week when the LGBT community celebrated its fourth Gay Pride — four years after Stonewall — an arsonist set fire to the Upstairs Lounge at the French Quarter, killing 32 people on June 24, 1973. No suspect was ever charged.
On Nov. 18, 1980 a man named Ronald K. Crumpley opened fire outside the Ramrod bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. He said he believed gay men were agents of the devil, stalking him and ”trying to steal my soul just by looking at me.” His father, a minister, said in his testimony that Crumpley maybe had a ”a homosexual problem himself.”
On April 28, 1990 at Uncle Charlie’s, another gay bar in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, three men were injured in an explosion possibly caused by a pipe bomb. The police didn’t immediately arrest anyone for the crime. Five years later, federal prosecutors accused El Sayyid A. Nosair for bombing Uncle Charlie’s, planning to blow up New York City landmarks and killing a rabbi in 1990. They said Nosair, a muslim, attacked the bar because he objected to homosexuality on religious grounds according to report from the New York Times. In 1996, he was convicted of planning to wage a “war of urban terrorism” and was sentenced to life in prison.
Jon Christopher Buice is serving a 45-year sentence for the killing of Paul Broussard in Houston, Texas on July 4, 1991. Buice and nine of his friends tried go into several bars in a gay area of Montrose, but they were refused entry. They then attacked Buice and two other friends with nail-studded wooden planks, a knife, and steel-toed boots outside Heaven, a gay bar in the city’s heavily LGBT Montrose district.
On Feb. 21, 1997 a nail-laden device exploded at the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta. Five people were wounded. Eric Rudoplh confessed to the Otherside Lounge bombing, as well as the Atlanta Olympics bombings, and abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham. “Homosexuality is an aberrant sexual behavior,” he wrote in a statement. “Like other humans suffering from various disabilities homosexuals should not attempt to infect the rest of society with their particular illness.”
Two people were killed and 81 were injured after a bomb exploded in a gay bar in London’s Soho, on April 30, 1999. The blast happened at the busy Admiral Duncan pub in the center of London’s very gay neighborhood at the start of a holiday weekend. Just like the Orlando tragedy, the attack happened in a place where people go to socialize and escape. Peter Tatchell, spokesman for the gay rights group OutRage!, said: “A lot of gay people saw the Old Compton Street area as a safe haven.They felt able to relax and hold hands without fear of attack. This outrage has destroyed that cosy assumption.”
In Roanoke, Virginia on Sept. 22, 2000, a man called Ronald Gay asked directions to a gay bar so he could “shoot some people.” He then walked calmly into the Backstreet Cafe on a Friday night, ordered a beer, and opened fire. He killed one person and injured six. Gay told police he didn’t like being called Gay. He also said it was his mission to make all gays move to San Francisco, which he thought would end AIDS. “He said he was shooting people to get rid of, in his words, ‘faggots,’” Lieutenant William Althoff of the Roanoke police was quoted as saying. He was sentenced to four life terms.
18-year-old Jacob D. Robida walked into a bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the evening of February 2, 2006. He asked the bartender if he was at a gay bar, ordered a couple of beers, and moved to the back of the bar, watching a game of pool briefly before taking out a hatchet — a small ax the size of a hammer. The bartender told CNN the man “started swinging the hatchet on top of this customer’s head”. He also struck a second patron with the hatchet, pulled out a gun and shot the first victim in the face and the second twice in the head, Phillip said. A third person also was shot in the abdomen. He killed himself three days later.
At the San Diego Gay Pride festival in July 30, 2006, six men were attacked with baseball bats and knives after leaving the Pride festival. The attackers used anti-gay slurs as they beat the victims. One almost died. Four men pleaded guilty in connection with the attacks and received prison sentences from two years and 11 months to 11 years.
20-year-old Sean William Kennedy was walking to his car outside Brew’s Bar in Greenville, South Carolina on May 16, 2007 when a car approached him. A young man got out, called him a faggot and punched him in the face so hard that caused his brain to disconnect from his brain stem.The killer, 19-year-old Stephen Moller, left the scene and let Kennedy die from his injury. He was sentenced to five years for involuntary manslaughter, but his sentence was reduced to three, because he was father. His mother said he later “left a message on one of the girl’s phones who knew Sean, saying, ‘You tell your faggot friend that when he wakes up he owes me $500 for my ‘broken hand!’”
Osvan Inácio dos Santos was leaving a gay bar in Arapicara a small city in the Alagoas, Northeast of Brazil with a group of friends, after he won a local ‘Miss Gay’ competition on Sept. 15, 2007. On the way home, he got separated from the group. They tried contacting him, but he didn’t answer. His body was found a day later. He’d been raped and beaten to death. Tedy Marques, president of the Alagoas Gay Group, said that “Homophobia is one of the worst problems Brazil faces. It is unacceptable that every other day in our country a homosexual is brutally murdered.”
Lance Neve was with his boyfriend and another friend at Snuggery’s Bar in Spencerport, New York on March 7, 2008 when a man named Jesse D. Parsons approached the group. He said he wanted to shake Neve’s hand because he had never shaken a gay man’s hand before, but Neve refused. Parsons then beat him up and left him unconscious. He was transported to an area hospital, where he was treated for a fractured skull, nose, left eye socket and upper jaw bone and blood on the brain. During his hearing, he told the court that “while he didn’t mean to hurt Neve as badly as he did, Neve deserved it.” He was sentenced to five years and a half in jail, and was ordered to pay $24,000 for Neve’s medical expenses.
Tony Randolph Hunter, was beaten outside the Be Bar Nightclub in Washington DC by 19-year-old Robert Hannah. He later died from the injuries on September 7, 2008. Hannah was sentenced to 6 months in jail and ordered to pay $50 in court costs.
On March 1, 2009, three friends threw concrete blocks at patrons inside Robert’s Lafitte Bar, in Galveston, Texas injuring two men. One of the victims, Marc Bosaw, required 12 staples in his head. One of the three suspects later told police their intent was to target homosexuals, said Galveston Police Department Lt.D.J. Alvarez. The trio also hurled homophobic insults, authorities said.
On April 11, 2009 Justin Goodwin was attacked at a bar in Gloucester, Massachusetts by as many as five people, who were using anti-gay remarks. The bashing left him blind in one eye, and deaf in one year. He committed suicide two years later.
On August 29, 2009 a shooting took place at a LGBT youth center in Tel Aviv. Two people died, 15 were injured. Most of them minors. A man named Hagai Feliciano was indicted for murder and a hate crime in 2013, but the charges were dropped in 2014. While not technically a bar, it is the equivalent for LGBT youth – a place of sanctuary and empowerment.
In New York City, a man named Frederick Giunta was charged and arrested on October 17, 2010 for allegedly attacking and assaulting people in two bars in Greenwich Village: Ty’s Bar on Christopher Street and nearby Julius Bar on W 10th St hurling anti-gay remarks. According to NYPD officials, Giunta has a history of committing crimes by targeting men at gay bars. The attack happened two weeks before the NYPD arrested two men on charges they attacked a patron inside the bathroom at Stonewall Inn.
In October of 2010, two men were arrested after attacking a man in the bathroom at the iconic Stonewall Inn in New York City. The suspects reportedly told the man, “We don’t like gay bars, and we don’t piss next to faggots” before the assault began. He later refused to apologize to the victim, because he has no regrets. “I’m not going to say sorry, because I don’t know what I should be sorry for,” said Francis, who also insisted he’s not a homophobe. “I don’t hate gay people. I don’t hate anybody.”
On October 25, 2011 a man sprayed 21-year-old Russel Banks with liquid fuel and threw a lit match at him at the Rainbow and Dove gay bar in Leicester City, England. Banks suffered third degree burns to 20 percent of his body.
On the first minutes of New Year’s Day, 2014 a man named Musab Masmari poured gasoline in a stairway to the balcony at the Neighbours Nightclub in Seattle, where 750 had gone to celebrate the New Year. An unidentified informant told the FBI that, in the numerous conversations after their first meeting, Masmari often expressed a “distaste for homosexual people,” and that Masmari “opined that homosexuals should be exterminated.” He was arrested a month later, and sentenced for 10 years in prison.
On June 1, 2014 two friends were killed after they left R Place, a gay club in Seattle. Ali Muhammad Brown confessed to the killings. He contacted the men via a hook-up app like Grindr, met them after they left the club and then shot them multiple times and killed them. Brown told the police the murders were a “bloody crusade” to punish the U.S. government for its foreign policies.
After months of violent anti-gay attacks, Central Station, Russia’s largest gay club closed its doors on March 27, 2014. The club was considered one of the only symbols of freedom for Russian’s LGBT community.
On October 1, 2014 a man named Wayne Odegard shot a man at the Salon, a popular gay bar in Minneapolis. He was passing by the bar when he saw two men kissing. He grabbed his gun, yelled “f**cking faggots,” and shot at them, injuring one. Odgegard admitted to police he said ‘faggots’ before the shooting, and said that seeing men kissing pisses him off.” He also recited a passage from Deuteronomy.
On March 22, 2016 a transgender woman was sexually violated inside a bathroom at the Stonewall Inn. According to the NYPD, she said that a man came into the bathroom claiming he only needed to wash his hands, but then proceeded to grope and rape her.
On April 8, 2016, an employee of a popular West Hollywood gay bar was attacked as he left the bar walking towards his car on an apparent hate crime. The person who attacked him took his wallet, but never used his credit card.
A few hours after the Pulse massacre in Orlando, on the West Coast the LAPD might have stopped another tragedy before it happened. 20-year-old Wesley Howell, a man from Indiana, was arrested on his way to attend the LA Pride festival, allegedly with an arsenal of weapons. Officials found him in a car with three assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, ammunition and a 5-gallon bucket with chemicals that could be used to create an explosive device.
These attacks should remind us all that we must remain vigilant while there are still people out there who remain so threatened by the sight of two men having a simple kiss that they will resort to violence to stop it.
Harvey Milk and Republican state Sen. John Briggs of Orange County met in September 1978 for a debate at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek over the Briggs Initiative, a proposition that would have made it mandatory for school boards to fire openly gay and lesbian teachers. The photos were recently found in The San Francisco Chronicle archive by pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub and published for the first time in decades. 📷: John Storey
“Sacrilege” may seem like a strange word to use in relationship to ones life. Its religious connotation is “the violation or profanation of anything sacred or held sacred” thus by a very loose expansion of the meaning – a human life, as it is, in many respects, regarded as sacred. Stretching definitions even further – and many would not be surprised that I don’t take it literally – infecting it with HIV could be considered a sacrilege, be it intentional or unintentional. The sacred has been violated! Also, as a HIV+ man, it is expected that I will follow a set of “rules” as dictated by various community groups, doctors and specialists! To totally ignore the expected, and go off down your own path would be considered by many to be sacrilege!
I can’t contemplate continuing to live with HIV without viewing it within the framework of my life! No war is without its battles, without its dark times, yet still seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! If I had to use a word to describe myself, belligerant comes straight to mind – but then I think to myself “That’s a bit harsh!”. Okay…cantankerous is one that has been used by those close to me, so that’s sort of acceptable, and it’s true! Curmudgeonly… a word I love, but I’m not really surly enough! So I’ll just stick with stubborn! I could claim that it’s a Capricornian trait, but it goes deeper than that.
At 12-years-of-age, my stubborn streak was already settling in. Though unrecognised by me at the time, it was a survival mechanism that was to serve me well for most of my life. It is only when I look back to 1965, that I realise what a testing ground it was: my mother left my father; a bitch of a housekeeper who was to forever change our family dynamics; and my father jumping over The Gap with Kevin, my brother – resulting in my brothers death – would have sent a less resilient person into dark depths that they may never have risen from! Considering the lack of psychological & emotional support available at that time, to have come out of that year relatively unscathed had to show a stoicism way beyond that normally expected from one so young. By digging my heels in, ignoring all the negativity around me, and just “getting on with it” – a philosophy I still embrace – I was to set in place a mental tenacity that was to impact my life for decades to come!
There was no love lost between my father & myself! Even prior to Kevin’s death, I had seen – and felt – a violent streak in his nature; almost a need to punish those who had a life contrary to his. He could be a right royal cunt! The only way I could establish my own independence – which had flowered rapidly after Kev’s death – was open defiance! He told me not to smoke…so I smoked; not to drink…so I drank; to get a trade…I went in every direction but; and to get my hair cut…I left it to grow – despite a threat, after an argument about it, to “knock my block off”! He even denied me a 21st birthday celebration, because he had been at war when his fell due…I organised it myself. My grandmother left me a small inheritance, and just after my 21st, I moved out of home, into my own apartment. After he remarried and moved to Vincentia (on the south coast of NSW), we had little contact. After his suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning in his car in 1978, I never cried a single tear – but just let out a massive sigh of relief! I was free! As the ultimate act of a true prick, he left me nothing in his will – it all went to my step-family! Just to show that they were all tarred with the same brush, directly after his death his sisters indulged themselves in a game of telephone harrassment against my step-mother. I was glad to walk away from them all!
As soon as the old man died, I came out! It is the one time my usual defiance was kept capped. I had seen what he wss capable of with my brother, and my survival instinct whispered to me to be quiet about this issue. Again, I had witnessed him & his mates yelling “poofter” out of the car window to some poor guy who did nothing more than wear a pink shirt! As I said – they were pricks! Stubbornness does not necessarily equal a death wish! Then, having stepped out of the closet, I megaphoned my life choice to all and sundry, including my employees. No one seemed particularly surprised! There were some in my workplace who were not impressed with my sexual preferences, and made no secret of it! My pure indifference to them was reward enough. My decision to desert the security of a regular job had nothing to do with my detractors…it was based purely on a desire to break free of a life I wanted to leave behind. But the curve balls were to keep coming, with no inkling at that time of the odd parallel path that both being gay, and being HIV+ were going to lead me down!
Even as I was coming out in Melbourne in 1980, snippets about a lethal cancer, that was killing gay men who frequented the saunas in the USA, were appearing in the local press here. I read them, and like many others, though not panicking, was left with a feeling of unease. That unease turned to immense consternation over the next couple of years, as the reports became more alarmist, and HIV crossed the ocean to our shores. By the time they developed a test in 1985, I for one was already stacking the odds – and not in my favour! In retrospect, this may have been a defence mechanism against coming up HIV+…that if I did, I was already prepared for it, and if I didn’t I could just breath a sigh of relief. The former proved to be true!
Back in the day, there was a severe lack of counselling, and given the sheer volume of testing results coming in at that time, was cursory at its best. When I went to get my result – and I don’t know why I made the presumption I did – the positive result was not a shock. These were strange (ethereal?) times, and for those of us admitting to our – then – death sentence, it was almost like belonging to a select club.
There was a two year window given at that time, between diagnosis and the advent of AIDS, leading, so they thought, to an inevitable death. Some didn’t make it to the window period, and my first friend, Andrew Todd, died at the end of 1986. I made it to the two year point…and was still very healthy. By then, the window for those diagnosed in 1985 had been expanded to five years, so the waiting game for many of us continued. Up to 1990 is a very convoluted journey, and I don’t want to rehash history that has already been covered in many writings, and is really outside the parameters of this article. I decided to make this a useful period, and did a number of trials. It was better than just sitting around and waiting. This was a time when I made my one bad decision regarding my healthcare – I allowed my doctor to – after a najor ethical battle with her – to put me onto AZT! There has been much written about AZT, and its history as a drug…which was not exclusively formulated for use with HIV. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but my thinking on HIV has always been a bit radical, and I, along with others, gravitate to the thinking that HIV and AIDS – despite our use of them as co-joined conditions – are separate illnesses, and HIV doesn’t necessarily lead to AIDS, but AIDS as an independent condition, brought about by the deterioration of the immune system.
So, I had a diagnosis of HIV, with no related conditions that would have rated a diagnosis of AIDS. Even with a CD4 count on the decline, I still had good health – which admittedly may have been a lot better if I wasn’t knocking myself around by chain-smoking, and chronic abuse of alcohol – until…I started AZT! Many of those still around from that time will acknowledge that the decline in their health status is directly parallel to starting AZT. It wasn’t nicknamed “human Rat-Sac”for nothing. It’s negative affects from then up until now are also well documented. Damaged nerves, liver & kidney problems, the leaching of calcium from bones, and other neurological problems can all be traced back to AZT usage. I wish I had stuck by my guns, and refused to use it! There is no evidence that it saved one single life. I wouldn’t have refused trestment with other drugs that came along shortly after – I didn’t have a suicide wish – but I have no doubt that if I had refused AZT, some ongoing problems I have now would not have happened. I have an undisguised hate of Big Pharma, and its tactics, and lack of ethics where it comes to flogging a drug, and how they went about flogging this incredibly toxic drug to a desperate and unsuspecting demographic is truly horrifying – more on this shortly.
So, dispite heavy smoking, alcohol abuse, long work hours, and a shit diet…I made it to 1990, and with my health still okay. I won’t say I was unscathed, as the relentless list of those who died over this time, with many more to come, was physically, mentally, and emotionally destructive. I am by nature – and experience – a stoic in the face of death. I accept the reality, and inevitability of it – but any sign of the existance of God in this obliteration was missing – no just, loving God would ever allow this! My conversion to Atheism was complete. However, the combination of all that was happening was starting to wear me down, and encountering on-the-job bullying by an Area Manager brought about my decision to leave the workforce in 1993, and go onto disability, and get a housing subsidy. It was a forgone conclusion back then that this was the road to take because – after all – none of us would survive for all that long. At this stage, under the most positive of thinking, I gave myself two more years.
I actually got to mid-1996 before it all started to come undone. I have written about the circumstances surrounding all the events that happened at this stage, so won’t repeat them here, but will give you an intimate insight into my thinking on my situation when I was finally admitted to Prince Henry Hospital in June, 1996. Given that I was already close to death when admitted, with a plethora of conditions that really should have killed me earlier, and that I really thought I would never leave there any other way than via a wooden box gives a good indication of how serious things were. It was in Mark’s Pavilion there that my stoicism, my acceptance of reality, possibly should have been tested, but instead gave me a calmness, an acceptance of my own potential death that I had pondered about prior to this. I was chronically ill, I was tired and in some respects, if other factors hadn’t intervened, death just seemed like such a pleasant, restful reality, leaving all that was happening behind, joining all those that I had loved and lost over the last 10 years. It was an acceptance of death that I wasn’t expecting to be quite so complete, so easy, so without fear.
But I picked my moment, didn’t I! Big changes were happening in the treatment of AIDS, and shortly after being admitted, not going down the road of death, that I expected to go down, I walked – well, taxied – out of Prince Henry. I exited that taxi into a world that was in no way prepared for the living dead of HIV. If I ever thought my battles were behind me, I could not have been more wrong. The next couple of years – a long period of recuperation – were intense. There was a seemingly neverending period of specialists, doctors, clinics, pharmacy, counselling, peer support groups, drug compliance groups, massive – and I mean massive – amounts of medication, side effects, dental work, anxiety and panic attacks, and drug trials. It was a time where one wanted to initiate great change in the direction of ones life – with no one there to assist. Change had to be fought for, had to be forced. All these community groups gathering money and prestige, sitting in meetings and forums, listening to the likes of me yelling about what we needed…and just turning deaf ears! It was a frusteating period where everything was years behind where it needed to be, and if you wanted to get on with your life without being trapped in the system, you had to do it under your own steam! So I did!
Some volunterr work, some work in the community sector, a flowering writing career that demanded and exposed…when I eas “allowed” as one didn’t question the system – led to a brief period of full-time work – that didn’t help my health at all – then onto university & TAFE to experience at last that which gad been denied me in my youth. This led to an interesting period of experiences, from spending 12 years talking about the HIV experience through the Posituve Speakers Bureau, to 15 years writing for “Taljabout” magazine and various other publications, starting several businesses – the most recent of which was destroyed by the GFC, to where I am now – happy, balanced, and reasonably fulfilled.
However, the last few years haven’t been without its challenges, and my mental tenacity, combined with a fairly laud-back approach to life, have seen me get through things without any apparent negativity. I do health care on my own terms these days, because if one just relies on mrdico’s, one would rattle like a pill bottle. I want less pills, not more! About 15 years ago, I halved my HIV medications. I have been waiting for some red-faced, fuming doctor to lecture me about it (has no one realised how rarely I get scripts?) but no one ever has. In the interim, my blood readings get better and better, with CD4s on the rise, and an ongoing undetectable viral load. Okay, I no longer smoke – gave that up in ‘96, drink bugger all, have turned vegetarian, and exercise daily, but nothing else. Big Pharma be fucked! Your drug resistance tests – a farce! You just don’t want people on old drugs! Over-prescribing? You bet you do…big time! I wouldn’t trust you as far as ai could kick you!
Have I mentioned my shit vision? Whoops…overlooked that. Blind in one eye thanks to CMV (also covered in articles on my blog), and almost blind in the other. The most major decision over the last couple of years? Having my blind eye removed voluntarily, and replaced with a prosthetic. Does it stop me getting around? Not fucking likely! I might be slow, but I get there! I have a white cane (laughingly called my whacking stick), but rarely use it. I walk the dogs, do the shopping, get to gym! It might be done with a slight feeling of nervousness, but it gets done.
I don’t hold any grudges. What has been, has been! In a way, I thank my father for the rough younger years. It gave me a set of survival tools that have served ne well – and still do – throughout my life. Maybe I was born in an auspicious astrological period, or maybe my natural survival instincts are genetic, endowing me with stoicism and mental tenacity! Whatever it is, it has seen me through nicely! Life is to be enjoyed, and despite the occasional downs, it should be lived to its fullest. Just step outside that square, and do it on your own terms!