Spreading Hate

On election day, something unexpected happened: California voters elected Barack Obama as the next President but also voted yes on Proposition 8. For those unaware, Prop 8 was an amendment to the California Constitution meant to rescind the right for same-sex couples to marry. It had been granted earlier in 2008 when the California Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional not to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Naturally, there was a horrendous backlash. Gay rights activists all over the country screamed bloody murder. In California, local activists started targeting businesses that were owned or managed those known to have contributed to the “Yes On 8” campaign. El Coyote, a mainstay restaurant in Los Angeles (a really awesome place, I’ve been there and I love it), was targeted because the owner’s daughter–also a manager–had given just over $1,000 to Yes On 8. The negative publicity forced the manager to resign. Many were forced to resign in the face of vehement demands that they do so. The gay community fronted the targeting of these people and did so shamelessly–and still claim they are right to do so because “we’re trying to stop hate.”

I guess that depends on how you define hate.

It’s popular at these gay rights rallies to hold signs reading “stop the h8,” “stay out of my relationship,” and “stop the Christian taliban.” One woman stripped to her thong underwear, put tape over her nipples, and wrote “stripped of human rights” across her chest in black electrical tape. If it weren’t crude enough to get me kicked off, I’d post it. Since when is marriage considered a human right? If marriage is a human right, then why are churches not penalized for refusing to marry straight couples who refuse to go through their marriage counseling course? Starving someone, beating them half to death, publicly humiliating a person with violence, raping them–those things are stripping someone of human rights. It makes you look ridiculous to claim hate and a violation of human rights over something that small. In light of the true violations going on in our world, yes, gay marriage is small.

My father doesn’t agree with gay marriage. Does that mean he hates me? Absolutely not. My father and I are now very good friends; we disagree on some things, but I know that my dad loves me. I take it very personally when people decry as hatemongers those who vote for marriage protection amendments because of the kind of man my father is. Same with my brother…I know he loves me and the fact that I’m gay is little more than a second thought. The people I’m closest to aren’t trying to limit my life or make me a second-class citizen; they just don’t see the point of altering what marriage has been all throughout history. It is perfectly okay to agree to disagree.

When I was a teenager going to church, bands like Five Iron Frenzy and the Supertones were big names. I still have very fond memories of going to the ska/punk shows with my church friends, though now many of them won’t give me the time of day. Two years ago, the death of one of our friends brought us all back together quite unexpectedly. All of us had changed in many ways, but one thing was made very clear: some of them did not want to continue to speak to me after we all parted ways. One of them at least had the guts to tell me why, because they didn’t approve of the fact that I had come out, and some didn’t believe that the friend who had died approved of it, either. If that’s their view, fine. That just means they weren’t real friends to begin with. The church I went to after that was shocked and openly disapproving when I finally admitted to them that I was gay. But I’m not willing to accuse any of them of real hate. Sure, they’re jerks for acting like that, but hatemongers? I save that title for the lone “friend” who threatened to kill me after I came out.

Using the accusation that someone is a bigot or a hatemonger over issues like this only sounds hysterical. We’re not winning anyone’s hearts and minds with this kind of behavior. In fact, I think we stand a very good chance of losing all we’ve gained if we keep this up. We need to be far more wise in our application of titles such as “hate.” And if you’re only using this accusation to stop an argument, you’re doubly wrong. Fred Phelps is the perfect measuring stick, folks–if someone is doing things like what he does, it’s hate. If it’s little more than disagreeing with one aspect of a larger issue, you sound ridiculous and you make us all look just like you.

I’d like to be able to have a civil conversation with those who are against gay marriage. This sort of thing makes them want to shut us all out.

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28 thoughts on “Spreading Hate

  1. But people like you, just acting as you do on a daily basis and with the example you provide everyone are exactly the people who lead to more toleration in society.

    Many forget what “tolerance” really means. Tolerance doesn’t mean celebrating something you previously found wrong, it means that you tolerate it. You allow it to coexist without threat of harrassment; you are allowed to keep your beliefs about the behavior. You can tolerate something and still believe it is wrong.

    For some reason, many people have started to use the word “tolerance” to mean “acceptance.” The two are not the same.

    My cousbians have very far left beliefs about some things, and it is difficult to talk about any policy with them. However, they live their lives normally. They have two children, they pay their mortgage on time, they keep their yard nice, and they don’t run around creating drama, having loud parties, or wearing attire more fit for San Francisco’s gay pride parades.

    I personally know of three people who have changed their mind about the “evils” of homosexuality just by knowing my cousbians. They aren’t pro-gay marriage yet, and may never be. But I think a significant victory has been won – because they see my cousbians as “normal” people living “normal” lives.

    Keep it up, Mel. People like you and Steve and Philip are the ones who really change the world for the better.

  2. Once again I am on the same page with you Mel. AFW, I agree with you about the definition of tolerance too.

  3. “For some reason, many people have started to use the word “tolerance” to mean “acceptance.” The two are not the same.”

    AFW, there are too many gay and lesbian folks who want to be loved by everyone because when they feel they are loved then they might learn to love themselves.

    My attitude then and now is I am somebody. I don’t need other people to validate me. I don’t need other people to say “I approve.” It is nice to have such things and they are blessings.

    The trouble with rolling your self esteem into the actions of other people is two fold. Those actions may never happen. Those actions if they happen can change. That’s a gamble no person should take.

    I am not happy same sex marrage was voted down. But I see it as a bump in the road. Same sex marriage will happen in CA. Instead of whining about that bump in the road, I prefer to keep moving.

    When I was in college in 1987 a state gay rights bill never made it out of committee. That was a bump in the road and we kept on moving. Because we did, things in my home state have gotten better for gay folk.

  4. “Since when is marriage considered a human right? If marriage is a human right, then why are churches not penalized for refusing to marry straight couples who refuse to go through their marriage counseling course?”

    Forcing an unwilling church to perform a “marriage” they’re against carrying out isn’t a right anyone has. However, equal protection and equal opportunities under the law as guaranteed by our Constitution are rights that all citizens of the United States have. Whether it’s called “marriage” or a “civil union” to me is immaterial, although I’m well aware it matters greatly to some. Providing all citizens with the same rights in our secular democracy is the real issue. Opting to let the tyranny of the majority decide whether the rights of a minority are enforced and protected strikes me as a disingenuous path and one that will ultimately prove to be untenable.

    Lastly, whether you choose to believe that the overwhelming majority of those who are against marriage or civil unions, i.e. equal rights, are bigots, hate mongers, or similar type scum, doesn’t make it not so. Frankly, after reading in your post regarding the reprehensible behavior of your former church colleagues, I’d have thought you’d have figured it out by now. Such wonderful representatives of the man they claim to represent!

  5. “Such wonderful representatives of the man they claim to represent! ”

    How about you do everyone a favor here and share your point of view not the point of view of the people who were up 5 points the weekend before the election and managed to lose it by 4 points on election day?

    All you’ve done is parrot a tired old list of sound bites.

    Just becuase you are gay or support gay rights does not mean you check your brain at the door.

    I know you are better than to be someone’s parrot and I hope you think you are better than that too.

  6. “How about you do everyone a favor here and share your point of view not the point of view of the people who were up 5 points the weekend before the election and managed to lose it by 4 points on election day?”

    What on earth are you talking about? Obama won the popular vote 52.9% to 45.7%. Electorally it was 365 to 173. You need to get a clue before you embarrass yourself again.

    “All you’ve done is parrot a tired old list of sound bites.”

    Hmmm…equal rights and protection under the law isn’t a soundbite, but if you insist that I’m somehow “parroting” the Bill of Rights, I suppose I’m guilty as charged.

    “Just becuase you are gay or support gay rights does not mean you check your brain at the door.”

    While I have no idea as to your sexuality or opinions on gay rights, I’d say based on your inane post that you have no brain to check. Too bad for you.

    “I know you are better than to be someone’s parrot and I hope you think you are better than that too.”

    You don’t know me, but I can see that you’re a presumptuous fool. I hold no illusions that you are any better than that, btw.

  7. “What on earth are you talking about? Obama won the popular vote 52.9% to 45.7%. Electorally it was 365 to 173. You need to get a clue before you embarrass yourself again.”

    I was talking about Measure 8 not the Presidential election.

    My post is not inane, I am gay and I don’t prefer to know people who think those who are not for us are against us.

    If you equate voting to ban same sex marriage as hateful then good luck when a group of gay bashers wish to beat you to a pulp. You’ll learn fast what hate really is if you live through it. Good luck if you are a crime victim because you are gay and the police laugh at you and say “you had it coming”.

    While I have never had any of the above personally come my way, I do know people who have. One guy I know for the rest of his life walks with a cane and is mentally slower because four teenagers beat him to near death on the subway. You can bet he understands what real hatred is. He’s reminded of it every single day.

  8. “All of us had changed in many ways, but one thing was made very clear: some of them did not want to continue to speak to me after we all parted ways. One of them at least had the guts to tell me why, because they didn’t approve of the fact that I had come out, and some didn’t believe that the friend who had died approved of it, either.”

    One other thing happened too. These people met a real live lesbian woman. Now they have something they know (you) to compare against what they’ve been taught to believe about someone like you. I guarantee more than a few of them have doubt now. They know you. They know you as a person are the same kind person you always were. It’s up to them to reconcile what they now know.

    On the other hand if you copped an attitude of “drop dead you hateful bigot” then I guarantee you’d only fill their minds with something to justify what they’ve been taught.

  9. Exactly, John. I have had that conversation a couple of times. People I used to know well who turned their backs on me at first later came back and said, “wow, I thought something completely different of you.” A lot of people think that gay and lesbian people sleep around and have serious alcohol and drug addictions. I remember well what it was like listening to pastors preach about it–that’s the way we’re frequently characterized. How will they know better if we don’t try to calmly prove them wrong?

    AFW, I absolutely agree with your “tolerance vs. acceptance” idea. Very well said.

    Jay, the problem we currently have is proving that we are a minority. Sure, we exist. But what’s the proof that we can’t help it? We can talk about how our same-sex attractions are normal to us until we’re blue in the face, but for a lot of GLBT folks out there, there’s little to no outward indicator. We have reason to believe it’s a genetic thing, but how do we prove that? Science has to go a long way before we get to that point. Until then, we’re defending ourselves against the belief that our lifestyle is all about sex, regardless of whether we know better. As I’ve said many times before, we have got to learn to be wiser about this. I want my rights, too, but if I start talking about the “tyranny of the majority” I’m not going to win any hearts or minds.

  10. You guys are perhaps nicer and certainly more diplomatic than I am. While my time is a bit short this evening, one thought that I’d like to throw out is this: Mel and John, the chance of you winning the “hearts and minds” of the majority of religious bigots (yes, I said bigots) in the US is nil. Yes, of course there’s perhaps a small minority that can be persuaded, but the majority will never, and I mean never, give you the time of day (or any semblance of equal rights). In fact, many would opt to ship you off to some remote island if they could. You’re an abomination in their eyes. So where does that leave us? To try and convince the close minded mob to somehow vote us into equality? No thanks, I’ll pass. The courts and perhaps legislature is the only way.

  11. Well, George Wallace stood on the steps of the University of Alabama and swore to stop black students from being admitted. A few years later, he apologized. If a large number of avowed racists could be changed by peaceful means then, we can do it now.

  12. Jay, do you live in the Middle East, or the United States?

    Because you seriously seem to not understand what true hatred of homosexuals is.

    I’m not sure who is a religious bigot to you. Fred Phelps and Westboro? I’d have to agree with you on that one.

    The Catholic Church I belong to? Not so much.

    Saddleback Church? They may not approve of living a homosexual lifestyle, but they also devote considerable effort into an AIDS ministry. And they don’t refuse people because they became HIV positive from homosexual relations.

    There are people who don’t agree with the fact that we’re a military family, too. In the East Bay of CA someone scratched a swastika into my car under my military sticker. Have you seen the signs people carry at some of the SF protests? Like “We Support Our Troops When They Shoot Their Officers”? That’s my husband they’re talking about. And yet, I’m not claiming I’m a victim of society. I don’t confuse the dork-bags in San Francisco with the rest of the country.

    Perhaps a huge part of the problem is the way you see those who don’t agree with you. You’re just as guilty of stereotyping and bigotry as they are – you’re just bigoted against people who go to church.

  13. “To try and convince the close minded mob to somehow vote us into equality? No thanks, I’ll pass. ”

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you do not wish to spend your time reaching out to people with conservative religious views then that is your choice and I support it.

    At the same time, name calling never works. Name calling divides people and slam doors. If you feel better calling people bigots then I hope you feel real good about that.

    In case you did not know, there was a time when nearly every religion in the U.S. had negative views on being gay or lesbian. Some have changed. Others are in the process. Some have yet to start.

    Change has occurred in part because people like me are on the inside and pressing for change. We did not get the change we have by calling people names.

    There are openly gay Baptists, Roman Catholics, Mormons, and Presbyterians to name a few who are pressing for change within their respective faiths. Such change may not happen today or even in twenty years. But if it does happen then it will be the people on the inside who earn the thanks.

    In conclusion, it’s difficult enough to move a denomination into a new light. It’s much harder when my fellow gay brothers and sisters engage in name calling and sometimes other forms of hostility. Such words and actions don’t move any of us forward. Such words and actions set us all back.

  14. “At the same time, name calling never works. Name calling divides people and slam doors. If you feel better calling people bigots then I hope you feel real good about that.”

    Indeed I do. Pointing out outright bigotry to bigots is nothing more than honesty. Anything less is enabling their bullshit. Is it wrong to point out alcoholism to an alcoholic? Lies to a liar?

    Keep kidding yourself that political correctness will get you there. Btw, thank goodness for the change wrought by those “openly gay Baptists, Roman Catholics, (and) Mormons”. If not for them, their respective denominations might have really put some effort and money behind defeating Prop 8!

  15. Jay, you seem to have a difficult time understanding something: You’re angry about a “right” to marriage (I don’t think the government should be in the business of marriage at all myself, which is why I used the quotes around “right”). You’re speaking about persecution from that lens.

    John is speaking about persecution from the point of view of someone who has been and has seen people be physically and openly molested – not in one or two highly publicized shocking events, but as a matter of acceptability. John is speaking as someone who has lived through a time when the average everyday American felt that someone whacking on gays was none of their business.

    There is a HUGE difference between actual and pervasive fear of physical safety and the ability to add someone to your federal tax returns.

    It is people like Mel, Steve, Philip, and John who live their lives and upstanding and productive citizens who, oh by the way happen to be gay, who have advanced the American conscience this far – that someone who is gay doesn’t have to worry about societaly sanctioned abuse any more than someone who is a Republican in Berkeley. And, actually probably has less to worry about.

    Huge changes don’t happen overnight. The slaves were freed in 1863. Blacks weren’t really allowed full and unmolested franchise until nearly 100 years later. In relation to that, I think that gays are moving along at quite a quick pace.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. is the inclusive face of the Civil Rights movement, “the children of slaves and the children of slave owners” mixing together. He did not call all whites bigots, he did not paint everyone with the broad brush of hatred. And now he is beloved in our country. Rightly so, I believe, however some may have corrupted his teachings and however human he was when he was alive.

    You would do far more for your cause to follow his example than to create more anger by your behavior towards straights. We’re all in the same country together, we all have to live here and function together. You’re not helping that at all.

    As a straight woman who is pro-civil unions (for every one regardless of orientation) and anti DADT, the mother of a gay child, and the proud cousin of a beautiful family that just so happens to be headed by two women – your behavior makes me very nearly rethink my own views, and not positively. Is that what you are aiming for?

    It was that beautiful family headed by two women that led my husband – who was formerly uncomfortable with homosexuality like many raised by traditional Russian parents – to completely break that down. So much so that he actually helped us throw my cousbian’s committment reception and attended the luau themed event in a coconut bra and grass skirt (and had a great time).

    It was my cousbian’s “normality” that led to our entire family completely accepting them as they are – even my grandparents, both of whom were in their nineties at the time.

    Had they been angry and accusatory, I have no doubt that the transition would not have been so smooth.

    I’m sorry things are not fast enough. But don’t sacrifice the good on the altar of the best.

  16. “If not for them, their respective denominations might have really put some effort and money behind defeating Prop 8!”

    Just curious. Are you over or under 35? I am guessing you are under 35. You’ve come of age in a different and a better world. You haven’t had to deal with some of the creatures in Wonderland that were all too common for gay guys over 4o like me. I am glad it is better for you.

  17. Airforcewifey:

    “Jay, you seem to have a difficult time understanding something: You’re angry about a “right” to marriage (I don’t think the government should be in the business of marriage at all myself, which is why I used the quotes around “right”). You’re speaking about persecution from that lens.”

    You lost me after that statement. Your premise is incorrect. Ironically, it’s actually you who’s having a difficult time understanding something.

    Please read what I wrote in my original post:

    “Forcing an unwilling church to perform a “marriage” they’re against carrying out isn’t a right anyone has.”

    So if your premise was incorrect, I assumed the rest of your post to be nonsensical. A quick scan revealed as much.

    One thing you are correct about however is when you say that the government shouldn’t be in the marriage business. As “marriage” is a religious ceremony, I’d have to agree. However, the government IS in the equal rights and protection under the law business. That’s where civil unions come in.

    Btw, I’m certainly not hostile towards “straights”, only bigoted people. You and John seem to share the unfortunate trait of presumptuousness. Bet that’s gotten you into some sticky situations, huh?

    Whether you want to “rethink” your views and opt to go the route of judgmental bigot has nothing to do with me. Take some responsibility for your own views please.

  18. Jay, what we are contesting is your definition of “bigoted people.” Just because someone disagrees with our desire to have the right to marry does not make them bigots.

    AFW, I would pay damn good money to see any commissioned officer in a coconut bra and grass skirt. I think I nearly wet my pants over that one!

  19. Ms. Mel:

    According to Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry:
    big·ot
    Pronunciation:
    \ˈbi-gət\
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    French, hypocrite, bigot
    Date:
    1660
    : a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    Denying a minority equal rights and protection under the law is bigotry, pure and simple. If the word upsets some people’s delicate sensibilities so be it.

  20. “Denying a minority equal rights and protection under the law is bigotry, pure and simple. If the word upsets some people’s delicate sensibilities so be it.”

    Well Jay best of luck with that. I am sure some flies can be caught with vinegar.

  21. “Btw, I’m certainly not hostile towards “straights”, only bigoted people. You and John seem to share the unfortunate trait of presumptuousness. Bet that’s gotten you into some sticky situations, huh?”

    Since you are holding your cards so close to your chest it’s hard to figure out who you are Jay. Presumption is all I have to go on. I could better understand you if you’d share a tad more about yourself.

    I’ve never met anyone on this board, but I know some things about Air Force Wife for example. I know enough about her I don’t need to presume much about her.

    I am certain Jay that you are a good person who means well and does well. That is a presumption on my part and I admit it is.

    Finally and I am not being patronizing with you I do enjoy the debate. We both want the same thing when it comes to same sex marriage. We don’t agree on the path to get there and we don’t have to agree.

  22. “We both want the same thing when it comes to same sex marriage.”

    Call it marriage or civil union, the equal rights under the law are what’s important to me. The religious acceptance not so much. I will agree that we seem to want similar outcomes though.

  23. Jay, for someone who seems to be so sure that I am an idiot, you don’t seem to actually be able to read much of what I write.

    How is it nonsensical to say that your reaction causes more harm than good?

    The various red states we’ve lived in, and the experiences I’ve had being a military wife – excuse me, wifey (an admittedly conservative trending group) has shown me something for absolutely certain. Many of the people I know who are anti-gay marriage and those most likely to view homosexuality as something to be condemned outright believe this way because their only real experience with homosexuality has been the pictures they see of San Francisco and Dharma and Greg.

    Time and time again I have seen these very same people change their tune when they are given non-confrontational examples of how “normal” most mainstream gays really are.

    That is all I am trying to explain to you – that your attitude, which seriously does come off as anti-straight, since I feel like you are directly attacking me as a religious bigot, does more harm than good in the long run.

    Mel – we have photographic proof of AFG living it up at the party! It was hilarious!

    The following Christmas he was giving my prison guard cousbian Krav Maga lessons. We still have a running discussion about who was winning in the end. 🙂

  24. Jay, the words “intolerant” and “hateful” jump out to me as if they were in big, bold type. The point I’m trying to make–and AFW has accentuated this–is that they’re NOT really either of those things. You’re describing Fred Phelps. Yes, there are people like that out there (we see ’em at every major gay and/or military funeral), but they’re not the majority. There’s a time to get in people’s faces and there’s a time to be diplomatic. I think it’s about time we stop being so emotional about it and be diplomatic.

    AFW–wow. I’m now picturing the local XO for Army Recruiting in my head dressed as a hula girl. Maybe I should just start doing that instead of picturing people in their underwear…

    And Krav Maga? Tell your cousbian to find a place nearby and keep it up, that’s a good style for a corrections officer. I study a very, very traditional form of Shaolin, and I’ve studied KM in the past.

  25. Wifey:

    1) It was you who couldn’t read in the first place.

    2) Dharma and Greg? Weren’t they a straight couple?

    3) So you’re blaming blatant intolerance on a TV sitcom? If you’re going to make lame excuses for bad behavior try and be a bit more creative.

    4) Name one thing in any of my posts that is “anti-straight”. What a ridiculous assertion. You’d be the first person ever to make that accusation, and based on your track record on this thread, my apologies but it doesn’t exactly carry any weight with me. In fact, I’d be more entitled to call you anti-gay for that dumb “cousbian” label you made up.

    5) I don’t know you so I obviously don’t know whether you’re a religious bigot or not. If you are though I urge you to seek help. Jesus wouldn’t approve.

  26. Seriously Jay – what’s with the hate? You hate me… why? Because I don’t agree with you that all people who are religious are bigots? Because I’m straight?

    And the “cousbian” label came from… my cousbians. Because my cousin grew up with us as my sister, but is not my sister and because they are a committed couple but not allowed to be legally married we sat down and tried to think of a way to describe our relationship. We wanted – most of all – to show how very important and “related” we are. Including my sort of sister-in-law/cousin-in-law/cousin’s partner. And because we don’t there to be any misunderstanding that we are not trying to hide anything about their relationship – even though until a few months ago they lived in a very red area in blue state.

    We adore her – and we want everyone to know it. Words matter and we had to find one that expressed that.

    I’m very sorry you can’t understand the depth of feeling involved here.

    Maybe that’s your issue in the first place.

  27. Wifey:

    Heh…”hate”? Really…hate? Now, I might accuse you of being rationalizing, incoherent, presumptuous, and illogical, but to accuse me of “hating” you is…well… funny? pathetic? I’m really not sure…but it is indeed odd.

    Never did I say that, “all people who are religious are bigots” did I? It’s obviously not an absolute, but to deny that many are is silly and disingenuous.

    Call your cousin what you want. I really could care less about your convoluted thought process.

    “Maybe that’s your issue in the first place”

    LOL!

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