you are gay, now is the time to waltz into your walk-in closet and make
a choice. You can dust off your boxing gloves and prepare to fight for
your rights or you can stay silent and redecorate your closet because
this is the lonely, miserable space you may inhabit in the near future.
I’ve been fighting for equality since 1988 and this is the first
time I believe we are going backwards and actually losing the battle.
The biggest mistake gay people and their allies tend to make is the naive
assumption that there is a cosmic force of good moving Americans toward
inevitable acceptance of homosexuality. But equality is a hopeful destination — not
predestination — with history teaching us that the fist of fanaticism
often stops the forces of freedom.
If the gay rights movement is crushed and active persecution of homosexuals
dramatically escalates, we can look to April 2005 as the flashpoint that
marked the beginning of the end.
Recently, two companies supportive of gay rights, Microsoft and Magellan
Health Services, capitulated to demands by anti-gay agitators fearing they
would unleash the wrath of “values voters.”
In a stunning reversal of historic support, Microsoft abandoned the gay
community at a crucial moment — when the Washington State Senate
debated a bill that would have prohibited discrimination in employment.
The measure failed by one vote. Microsoft’s appeasement came after
Dr. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church, harassed the software
company, threatening a boycott.
“I told them I was going to give them something to be afraid of Christians
about,” Hutcherson told the New York Times.
Trying to soft peddle its micro-brained decision, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
made matters worse by explaining that he didn’t want to offend Christian
conservative workers at the company.
What message does the company send to its employees who have strongly held
beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?” Ballmer wrote in an email
to 35,000 employees.
Well, Steve, Microsoft’s new message legitimizes the deplorable right-wing
stance that firing homosexuals is a valid viewpoint if you mask such discrimination
in the guise of religious belief.
Maybe it is time for the gay community to mount a massive protest outside
Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Gay rights groups perfected
the art of rowdy street theatre. We should show the fundamentalists how
it is really done and give Microsoft a reason to be afraid of homosexuals.
In an equally disturbing surrender to neo-puritan pressure groups, Magellan
Health Services reinstated “reparative therapist” Warren Throckmorton
to its National Professional Advisory Council. Throckmorton was initially
booted from the company because of his work as an anti-gay therapist.
And, to add insult to injury, the new no-hope Pope believes homosexuality
is an “intrinsic moral evil” and an “objective disorder.” Unfortunately,
his archaic beliefs are being celebrated by many religious zealots in the
U.S. looking to justify their mean-spirited bias.
On whole, the nation is becoming more accepting, but the whole nation isn’t
calling the shots. Instead, a powerful clique of right-wing theocrats is
attacking the very institutions that hold this nation together. Sen. Bill
Frist spoke via satellite to a rally designed to end judicial independence,
abolish the filibuster and breach the wall separating church and state.
It is important to note that victims of neo-puritanical supremacy are not
limited to the gay community. At the Air Force Academy, 55 complaints of
religious persecution have been filed in the past four years, with “Christian” cadets
allegedly calling some of their Jewish counterparts “Christ killer” and “Filthy
The treacherous tide has turned, and in our sink or swim moment we are
drowning — along with other minorities — in the awesome conservative
wave that has consumed this fearful nation. There is no lifeguard on the
way to save us. Our only life preserver is our own courageous action and
it is inexplicably in short supply — like rafts on the Titanic.
We are getting shafted because we have become polite to a fault and passive
to the point of pathetic. On Capitol Hill we are no longer outsiders, but
outcasts. In ACT-UP founder Larry Kramer’s new book, “The Tragedy
of Today’s Gays,” he writes, “I hope we all realize that
as of Nov. 2, 2004, gay rights in our country are officially dead and from
here on we are going to be led even closer to the guillotine.”
It is easy for critics to dismiss Kramer as a Cassandra, or even crazy,
because he is so often screaming and ranting. But maybe it is the rest
of the gay community that is nuts for not yelling louder and fighting harder
as we get steamrolled by a right-wing juggernaut that relentlessly works
to strip us of our legal rights and our basic humanity.