There’s been an overwhelming outpouring of support for LGBT people recently. Those encouraging words and statements, prompted by September’s string of gay youth suicides, have come from citizens and celebrities alike. President Barack Obama even filmed his own message for gay columnist Dan Savage’s now iconic “It Gets Better” campaign.
And, in yet another sign our nation might be undergoing major shifts in public opinion, a national, professional wrestling association has launched its own anti-bullying campaign.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based TNA Wrestling — their roster includes regular appearances by names like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair — launched their “Eliminate the Hate” campaign in late October. As part of their campaign, TNA Wrestling is producing special anti-bullying PSAs to be featured during their programming on the Spike network. They’ll air the same PSAs on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, on the primetime show “Derek & Romaine” and other programs.
Surprisingly, the company isn’t shying away from bullying based on sexual orientation.
“Everyone at TNA stands firmly behind this new anti-bullying campaign. The bullying must stop, and we want to take a stand,” Al Ovadia, TNA chief marketing officer, said in a release. “There’s no place in our schools for bullying, be it based on a student’s looks, race, sexual orientation or anything else.”
TNA wrestler Jeff Hardy is also playing a role in the new campaign. In late October, he made an appearance on CBS’ “The Talk,” and invited a bullied, 11-year-old boy to be his personal guest at a TNA Wrestling event. Exactly why was the boy being so badly bullied? He is a cheerleader. Certainly, that isn’t “gay,” but it does speak volumes about how gender norms, roles and expectations have a hand in incidents of bullying.
And, all of this — especially from a professional wrestling group — is shocking considering the nation’s turn to the right on Nov. 2. Masses of people, who it seems are becoming more, not less, accepting and tolerant of LGBT people marched into voting booths across the country and voted into office slews of people who have proven themselves not only unfriendly to gays, but many times outright hateful and bigoted.
It all adds up to a mass, inexplicable contradiction.
Granted. This year’s election saw little discussion of LGBT issues in most media or public forums. But, while Tea Party-backed GOP candidates were busy talking about jobs, money and the economy on national cable news shows, their lesser-known stand-ins were busy rallying conservative, anti-gay bases. In Iowa, for example, the National Organization for Marriage rode the hard-right Tea Party train and successfully ousted three state supreme court justices responsible for opening marriage to all Iowans regardless of sexual orientation and gender.
The anti-LGBT implications of this year’s election results couldn’t be more discouraging than here in North Carolina. For seven years, the dedicated staff of Equality North Carolina worked tirelessly to build relationships with key Democratic state legislative leaders in an effort to stem the tide of anti-gay marriage amendment frenzy and keep it out of Tar Heel politics. They’ve been successful, of course, and in the process built important relationships with Republican legislators as well. Those close GOP ties — Equality North Carolina’s board chair, Dan Gurley, is a former executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party — will come in more than handy when the state’s rabidly anti-gay “family values” organizations come knocking on the doors of the legislature and demand GOP politicians pay back their overdue IOUs.
GOP control in North Carolina’s House and Senate could spell big trouble for LGBT people: An anti-gay constitutional amendment on marriage, repeal of the School Violence Prevention Act and Healthy Youth Act, legislation to “clarify” the state’s adoption laws and polices and many, many more. Since the GOP hasn’t really been in power since at least the 1890s, the best we can really hope for is that they’ll be too busy learning how to govern and won’t waste their time on silly, little social issues the majority of North Carolinians and Americans couldn’t care less about.
And, if worst comes to worst, we know we’ll have our “lavender lobbyists” powerfully on our side. : :