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They’re not crazy, they’re fascists.

I’ve been frustrated for some time at the naiveté of current political analysis by American liberals and centrists, who can’t make hide nor hair out of the antics of the right. Their most common explanation is, “Those folks are crazy.”

And you can see why; they say some loony stuff. “Birtherism” is perhaps the best-known example; even President Obama’s birth certificate is no kind of proof to these people – because they’re not looking for proof or interested in facts.

I could put up a whole rogue’s gallery of public figures who are part of this faux movement, and fill this space with some of their wild quotes – but I won’t do it. You know already, you see them every day online and on the boob tube. So instead I’ll post a photo you might not expect.

When Chuck Grassley, longtime Republican Senator from Iowa, started trotting out the so-called "death panels" as a way to kill the Affordable Care Act, I knew the end was near.

When Chuck Grassley, longtime Republican Senator from Iowa, started trotting out the so-called “death panels” as a way to kill the Affordable Care Act, I knew the end was near. He didn’t believe a word he said – and he didn’t care that he was uttering a bald-faced lie. Mild-mannered Chuck Grassley from good old Iowa!

This is not your grandparents’ Republican party. Those people were patriotic, they did what they thought was right for the country. Today’s Republicans say and do anything they can think of to increase their power at the country’s expense.

The crazier the statement the more they like it. They’ve left shame behind; their only interest now is propaganda. It makes money; it gives them power.

It makes President Obama look reasonable and intelligent to most Americans, but weak and vulnerable to his enemies. That’s how they want him to look. They don’t care why he looks that way, as long as they can make people think they smell his blood.

Mike Huckabee, the genial fundamentalist, claimed yesterday that Benghazi will force Obama to resign.

Watergate was a systematic attack on the Constitution. Benghazi was a terrorist attack on a consulate.

Watergate was a systematic attack on the Constitution. Benghazi was a terrorist attack on a consulate.

To me, the only commentator who comes close to articulating what’s really going on here is Rachel Maddow. She doesn’t describe it as a fascist takeover of the GOP, but that’s what it is.

It comes in a form we’re not used to, especially in the United States, where we’ve never had a sizable fascist movement before. And these people don’t look like the fascists of old.

I’m not calling them Nazis; they’re not. They’re much closer to Mussolini than Hitler, especially in the desire of some right-wing factions to align the state with big corporations. Think the Koch brothers, trying to take over the Los Angeles Times. They’re part of the corporatist wing which failed to elect their puppet Mitt Romney.

There’s also a populist wing called the Tea Party, which is itself a catch-all term for numerous factions; the Grover Norquist wing, the NRA wing, the anti-abortion/birth-control anti-Gay wing, and others. Appealing to all of them (but often losing control of its own narrative) is the “right-wing political-entertainment complex” of Fox News and radio talk shows – which are more about making money than ideology. Rush Limbaugh’s a rich man, but Rupert Murdoch is a lot richer. All they care about is ratings – and they know that to get ratings, they have to throw red meat to their audiences, more and more every day. In that light, Huckabee is late to the party, and fairly pathetic.

They know what they’re doing; it’s all deliberate. It’s why they just make stuff up anymore; two days ago Limbaugh blamed Obama for the kidnapped women in Cleveland.

Stop calling them crazy. Stop being surprised by them. Recognize that every one of these developments is the result of calculation and market research. They’re attacking your democracy, and they won’t quit until they win or are destroyed.

(Their factionalism does give me a little hope. Tea Partiers are not natural allies of billionaires, which is why Big Business moved quickly to co-opt them with FreedomWorks.)

Like every other country, America’s always had racists, reactionaries and rich guys. What’s new is that this time they’ve also got Republicans. That didn’t happen by accident; Republican politicians have nowhere else to go. They are out of popular ideas, now that Reagan’s dead; the public doesn’t like what Republicans stand for, or we’d have privatized Social Security under G.W. Bush. They can’t win national elections, or even states they used to win, so now they’re doing everything they can think of to restrict voting.

My grandparents were staunch Republicans, but they would never have voted for these people. It’s anti-American to eliminate voting rights. That’s like trampling the flag and desecrating the graves of our War Dead; something shocking, unheard-of, un-called-for.

But in 2013 we need not to be shocked anymore by these antics. We need to expect them, and then we need to defeat them, while we still can.

Otherwise the plutocrats will move in, before Democrats figure out what hit them. (Poor Harry Reid; have you ever seen such an ineffectual majority leader?)

When Rep. Todd Akin made his wild claim that after rape, “the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down,” do you think he didn’t know what he was saying? Do you think he was just misinformed?

Or do you think he made a reasonable political calculation, that the passion of an organized minority (people who hate abortion) can outvote a disorganized majority?

That’s what they did last month in the U.S. Senate, when they voted down background checks to keep guns out of the hands of murderers and psychopaths. An organized minority, especially if it’s got money, can defeat a disorganized majority every time.

That’s how government works! That’s why lobbyists write legislation you have to live under.

In 2008, 52% of young voters went out and voted. Two years later, only 25% of them turned out, and the GOP won back the House of Representatives. Two years after a financial meltdown caused by Republicans, Americans voted them back in!

In 2012, young voters came back to the polls and Obama was re-elected. Romney’s predicted landslide didn’t happen, and for the first time more Black Americans voted than Whites by percentage.

But here’s the really telling statistic for what’s happening now.

Source: Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll

Source: Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll

Forty-four percent of Republicans think “an armed revolution might be necessary.”

That is, civil war.

Do you hear the drums beating? Maybe you should, although I can’t really blame you if you’re in denial. That’s where Democrats and pundits are right now, along with most Americans.

“Fascists? Didn’t we beat them in World War II?” Yes, but that was a long time ago – and those fascists were foreigners. These are home-grown.

“Oh, stop being an alarmist!” (I agree it’s bad for ratings among liberals, but I’m not getting paid to write this blog. Meanwhile, you explain why 44% of Republicans think “an armed revolution might be necessary.”)

This war, if God forbid it comes, will take place before a backdrop of huge unemployment and economic dislocation, caused by speculators and plutocrats on Wall Street, and political gridlock on Capitol Hill, which Americans voted for. Economic hardship is often a precursor for war.

How many states now have Republican super-majorities in the Statehouse? Those are the bright orange ones in this map, while the bright blue ones are controlled by Democrats. Only three states are split.

USA Today newspaper

USA Today newspaper; click to enlarge.

In the U.S. Senate, all states have equal voting power. Two Republican no-names in Idaho can cancel out Feinstein and Boxer in California – and they consistently do.

When the chairman of the House Science Committee denounced science as “straight from the pit of hell,” who was he talking to, but the organized (and armed) minority?

He wasn’t crazy. He was calculating.

Let me mention now in passing the role of fundamentalist religion in all this. My mainline Episcopalians never pass out voters’ guides the Sunday before an election. But Baptists and megachurches do every time; organized minority vs. disorganized majority.

My final point concerns the rise of violent anti-Gay fascism in France. You might think the French would know better, having suffered under the Nazi occupation in World War II – and mostly the French do know better, that’s why they voted Socialist and passed same-sex marriage – but an armed minority can cause a lot of damage to an unarmed majority.

Police had to use tear gas to subdue anti-Gay rioters last month. (London Telegraph)

Police had to use tear gas to subdue anti-Gay rioters in Paris last month. Were they really that anti-Gay, or were they using opposition to same-sex marriage, ginned up by the Catholic Church, to win power? (London Telegraph)

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I don’t like what I see; not from the President, not from Democrats in Congress, not on MSNBC (especially Chris Matthews, whom I admire as a person) – and not online, where my Facebook friends continually yap that “them folks is crazy.”

No. Them folks is dangerous and we’d better be prepared. Let’s start by realizing what’s really going on. The birthers know better, all of them do; but many people have a deep-seated hatred of this African-American President, at the same time we’ve got mass unemployment, terrorist attacks, same-sex marriage, undocumented immigrants and (since 1962, but who’s counting) no organized prayer in public schools. Chuck Grassley had better ride that wave or he might drown. So he’s all for Chuck Grassley and America be damned.++

VIDEO: “The Thaw” – militarized, fist-thumping children in (dare I mention) Idaho

Rutgers Tape Shows the Violence, Homophobia & Moral Corruption of Bigtime Sports

UPDATE: Rutgers University fired Coach Mike Rice Wednesday morning; this post was written Tuesday night. The focus of public anger now turns to the athletic director, who was informed of the allegations back in July, took no action until the videos were handed over in November, and finally suspended the coach for three games without pay.

This is the same school where Tyler Clementi took his life after his roommate secretly live-streamed video of him kissing a man in their dorm room, provoking a national outcry about bullying.

I grew up Gay in a somewhat athletic family. I’m not very talented physically, but I’ve participated in most of the sports American boys are taught – and I kept playing for decades after my more athletic brothers quit, especially once I found something I was good at: distance running and other highly aerobic activities. One of the highlights of my life was rafting down the Arkansas River years ago from Salida, Colorado to Canon City. It’s dramatic, risky, exciting, a wonderful physical challenge (“Churn churn churn, paddle paddle, front, back, reverse reverse, look out for that hole! OMG we’re gonna slam into those rocks!”), all while surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. It was like having fantastic sex for six hours straight!

white-water-rafting

I’ve been a sports fan all my life – until the last couple of years, because now I see how money has corrupted elite athletics.

The excitement of physical competition is completely real, for the athletes and the fans. Combine the physical genius of highly skilled players with the shrewd strategies of gifted coaches and you’ve got quite a show indeed. But what we don’t see is far more important than what we do.

Lance Armstrong confessing to Oprah. He was willing to win at all costs - including risking the health of his teammates.

Lance Armstrong confessing to Oprah. He was willing to win at all costs – including risking the health of his teammates.

It isn’t just Lance Armstrong doping, and coercing all his teammates to do the same; it isn’t just NBA and FISA officials throwing games so the most lucrative teams win. It’s more than just the politics of the Olympics, with all their bribes and intrigues; it isn’t just the NCAA’s exploitation of “student-athletes” at major colleges.

It’s us. The fans. We’re the people who fund these organized criminal enterprises owned by billionaires, often at taxpayers’ expense. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the “500,” just persuaded the Indiana Legislature to divert tens of millions of dollars in property taxes to their private business. “Look at all we do for the city,” they say. “Look at all the tourists we bring in. You did the same thing for the Pacers and the Colts.” Who can argue? Not local hack politicians who did indeed build new arenas for the football and basketball teams, both owned by billionaires.

Now comes Mike Rice, the head basketball coach at Rutgers University (which is soon to join my beloved Big Ten Conference) in a big new scandal. Videotapes of his practices show him systematically abusing his players, physically and verbally.

ESPN and the newspapers describe Rice as using “homophobic slurs” and “throwing basketballs at his players’ heads from point-blank range.” But it wasn’t their heads he usually aimed at. He gives new meaning to the term “crotch rocket,” as in “incoming.”

Who can be shocked that a coach calls his players fairy, cocksucker and faggot? Bobby Knight did that at Indiana for decades, where he’s still revered for two national championships despite his criminal record. Verbal abuse is the stock in trade of many coaches, including high schools, middle schools and Little League, so who’s kidding whom?

Rice’s misogyny, his contempt for women by calling his players cunts, bothers me more. No wonder so many players get in trouble for rape, domestic violence and other crimes.

As professional and Olympic sports (which are also professional) scandals mounted over the years, I turned my attention more and more away from the pros to the college level. I come from a long line of Purdue University graduates; it’s a school we’re very proud of. A century and more ago, the president of Purdue created the Big Ten Conference as the first successful attempt to police college sports, which were headed down the corrupt path. Purdue’s athletic teams have been largely scandal-free since then (unlike those at hated rival Indiana, among many other schools), and the kids who play at Purdue go to class, usually graduate and are successful. They don’t all take basket-weaving, either; I know several who took extremely challenging classes in engineering, pharmacy, math, history and other fields.

But it’s become increasingly clear that Purdue has sacrificed a good part of its educational mission, especially since the creation a few years ago of the Big Ten television network, which makes so much money that it’s caused conference realignment nationwide, as other leagues try to duplicate what BTN is doing.

Rutgers is now joining the Big Ten (which is growing to 14), mostly to get BTN into the New York market. The conference has always been prominent in Chicago and the Midwest; all but one school, Northwestern, are publicly-owned. Now instead of concentrating on its historic Great Lakes territory, the Big Ten extends from the Atlantic to Nebraska – and would go to the Pacific if the money were right.

But the conferences are now, and long have been, subordinate to the NCAA, which The New York Times columnist Joe Nocera calls a “cartel.” The NCAA has a Congressional exemption from monopoly laws while raking in billions of TV dollars.

Need a sports fix? The NCAA has an app for that.

Need a sports fix? The NCAA has an app for that.

Nocera and other journalists are dedicated to showing that the NCAA is completely ruthless at exploiting athletes. They’re essentially slave labor. They get scholarships – unless they get hurt, in which case they’re often on their own, with no way to pay the medical bills from all those concussions and broken bones. Schools just toss those kids away. If they’re poor and Black, they don’t stand a chance.

But because all this is done in the name of “education” and “not-for-profit,” most fans just look the other way and enjoy the show.

It’s maddening to me to go on Facebook and see all the Episcopal clergy I know touting their favorite teams, which they do constantly, without any acknowledgment of the labor issues, the health consequences, the sexism and racism and homophobia that are built into the Big Sports Machine. I mean, world-class football will kill ya – but they’re all glued to their TV screens and texting on Twitter and Facebook.

There’s going to be a reckoning someday. I believe the entire sports edifice will come crashing down in a worldwide spasm of disgust, because the whole thing’s based on human exploitation. People who get outraged by sweatshops in China or sexual slavery in Thailand and Russia will not be able to escape knowing they provide the market for these products.

And no feel-good features on TV, like how that Notre Dame player kept going despite the death of his phony girlfriend (and Grandma on the same day!) will be able to overcome the revulsion, or the knowledge that we all participated in this.

So what if there’s an openly-Gay baseball player someday? That’s bound to happen. Reforms on the periphery are not going to cure what ails sports.

They’re violent. They kill people. They’re racist and sexist and homophobic. They use slave labor in college. They bribe their way to success.

It’s all just a TV show – but the fix is in and always has been.

You’re paying for it, sucker. Why worry about global warming when it’s baseball’s Opening Day?++

Jeter-3000-Poster-REV

America Is Rushing to the Altar

A West Point cadet and his boyfriend, 2013: here's what freedom looks like.

A West Point cadet and his boyfriend, 2013: here’s what freedom looks like.

All over the teevee, Straight commentators are marveling at how fast Americans’ views on Gay marriage are changing. Why, they’ve never seen anything like it! And they can’t explain it.

Not to worry; I am here.

Jerry Falwell did us a big favor. Then he died.

U.S. politics changed dramatically in 1980; Ronald Reagan kicked Jimmy Carter out of the White House and ushered in a new conservatism marked by hyper-capitalism and greed, military aggression (with invasions of Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989, and illegal funding of the Contra War in El Salvador throughout the decade), racism, sexism (the Equal Rights Amendment died in 1982) and homophobia. The pendulum swung far to the right.

Now it has swung to the left with the re-election of President Obama, and LGBTs are among the beneficiaries.

Falwell, a Baptist TV preacher, had huge political ambitions, and his support for Reagan was key in forming a new electoral coalition. Whenever one of these big shifts happens, the composition of the political parties realigns. Today’s TV talking heads, with their sound-bite brains, remember all this as involving “Reagan Democrats,” who were White ethnics and union workers in Macomb County, Michigan, right outside Black Detroit. But Falwell’s Fundamentalists were arguably the more important voting bloc; they were nationwide and united behind Reagan, in an effort to reverse abortion rights. President Carter won the union vote in 1980 despite the Reagan Democrats. He lost conservative Christians, despite being one himself.

Rep. Martha Griffiths, D-Michigan, steered the Equal Rights Amendment through Congress. It failed to be ratified by the states, thanks to a backlash led by Phyllis Schlafly, an Illinois lawyer portraying herself as a happy housewife. (Warren D. Leffler)

Rep. Martha Griffiths, D-Michigan, steered the Equal Rights Amendment through Congress in 1972. It failed to be ratified by the states, thanks to a backlash led by Phyllis Schlafly, an Illinois lawyer portraying herself as a happy housewife. (Warren K. Leffler)

It’s proven impossible over the years to roll back abortion rights, and Reagan had a sense of how hard it would be. Every January Falwell and his allies would converge in a big demonstration at the Supreme Court trying to overturn Roe v. Wade; they helped elect Reagan and kept expecting him to show up, but he never did. Year after year he gave them a speech played over the loudspeakers, but he never once appeared in person; he didn’t want to be in a picture with them.

To juice up his movement, Falwell expanded his issues to cover “family values” and demonize Gay people. Abortion was always his number one target, and Gay people seemed like easy pickings. His strategy was successful for awhile, but it was fatally flawed.

He ran a persecution campaign, but those only work for awhile. (He should have known that, being a Christian.) Nothing generates more sympathy than TV pictures of people being abused.

Civil rights marchers being beaten by Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, 1965. This scene led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Civil rights marchers being beaten by Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, 1965. This scene led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Falwell had a problem; he couldn’t scapegoat all the women of America because there are too many of them. The goal of the anti-abortion movement has always been to put women back in their place. It’s not about unborn babies or the right to life, it’s about how grown women act here and now. It’s about men’s power and who gets to decide things. If Falwell had waged war on all women, not only would they object, so would a certain percentage of men; so he turned his venom on Gay people instead, thinking (and not unreasonably) that queers had no defenders anywhere.

It worked for awhile; but he and his clones, especially Pat Robertson, gradually became better known for hating Gay people than opposing abortion. They helped this image along by making outlandish claims and repeating obvious lies.

A hurricane did not destroy Disney World, and Gay Day went on as usual.

Where once Gay people were unmentionable, all of a sudden we were being talked about constantly.

We came out. And we kept coming out, coming and coming.

We started to reveal ourselves in the 1960s in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and of course in New York. What started as a trickle in time turned into a flood.

Daddy didn’t like that his boy was a queer, but Mama still loved her son; so did Grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins. As for that Lezzie daughter, well, anybody could see that Martha Griffiths had a point – and Betty Friedan, the whole lot of them. A woman ought to be able to be a doctor if she wants to be, or even a lumberjack. If that’s what she wants, well, it won’t pay to try to stop her. She never was the type to wear pearls anyway.

Three strands this time, plus a cross necklace. Schlafly promised to turn back the clock to the days of "Father Knows Best."

Three strands this time, plus a cross necklace. Schlafly promised to turn back the clock to the days of “Father Knows Best.”

Here’s a fact that’s still unbelievable to me: I was the first openly-Gay person in Cincinnati (Palm Sunday, 1978), along with an MCC pastor who soon left town. The Rev. Howard Gaass and I lent our full real names to a bunch of articles in The Cincinnati Enquirer. The reporters did a fine job with it, sensitive and accurate. They interviewed all the Lesbians and Gay men they could find. But none of the women were quoted by name, and only two of the men.

I don’t know what was running through Howard’s mind, and I’ve never criticized his leaving town; I hope he just got a new opportunity and jumped on it. But I knew you can’t run a social movement while hiding your name and face behind a curtain. You have to take responsibility; you have to show some leadership. On Gay issues that was especially important, because the stereotype was that we were all wimps and sissies, ready to run if somebody looked at us cross-eyed.

You have to be willing to sacrifice, in public, for your beliefs, even if it means you’ll get killed. John Lewis, in that Selma photo above, nearly did get killed. But now he’s a Congressman from Georgia.

(While I’m just blogging!)

The famous Gay debate at the American Psychiatric Association in 1972: Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and a Gay psychiatrist (John E. Fryer) in a Halloween mask.

The famous Gay debate at the American Psychiatric Association in 1972: activists Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and a Gay psychiatrist (John E. Fryer) in a Halloween mask.

I have never spent much time thinking about why it took most LGBTs so long to come out. I think I’d probably resent them, actually; so I’ve always banished that particular thought. What was obvious to me, that coming out is an absolute necessity, was not so obvious to most. I do not hold to the standard blather about coming out that “it’s an intensely personal decision that everybody has to make for themselves,” so that we end up with Ricky Martin finally telling the truth in 2010, once he had to explain how he and his male partner ended up with two kids. I don’t begrudge the man, even if he was livin’ the crazy life all those years.

I’d rather have allies than not. (And I suppose Frank Kameny could ask what took me so long – except that in 1960 when he took the U.S. Government to the Supreme Court over anti-Gay discrimination, I was only 9.)

Please tell the Talking Heads that this incredible shift on Gay marriage has come about because we started telling our families and friends the truth.

And because Jerry Falwell was a Public Idiot.

And because of AIDS.

Oscar nominee, Best Documentary. Didn't win. Gay films never do.

Oscar nominee, Best Documentary. Didn’t win. Gay films never do.

I don’t have much to say about AIDS today, except that I’m glad to be a founder of AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati, the world’s second-oldest support and advocacy group.

It grew because of Lesbians more than Gay men. The real heroes of AIDS, and there are many, are women who didn’t have it. That pattern was repeated in city after city – Gay women, Straight women, compassionate and courageous women.

What finally broke down the sexism of Gay men was that we needed those women.

The political connection between AIDS and Gay marriage is that what once was unmentionable became a topic on everyone’s lips. Ronald Reagan tried his best never to mention the word, until his friend Rock Hudson came down with it.

I was working at Gay Men’s Health Crisis while Hudson was jetting off to Paris, desperately trying to save his life. I didn’t blame him; my clients were doing the same thing. Still, there was a pathos to that whole episode. Hudson denied being Gay and having AIDS as long as he could, and then it stopped mattering.

I lost only one close friend to AIDS, an Episcopalian from Ohio named Craig Jason Byers. To his name I add composer Calvin Hampton, whose Mass music I used to sing at seminary in 1974, the same year I first marched in the Stonewall anniversary demonstration. “Pride Parades” used to be demonstrations, kids. (And yes, I was scared that first time.)

I credit my religion, my faith, my Christ, for propelling my activism. I credit my mentors Ervin Faulkenberry, Howard Galley and Brooke Bushong, Episcopal Church evangelists who couldn’t have been less like Jerry Falwell.

I credit the prophet Amos, to tell the truth; “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

God made me do it – and still does.

A flood of Gay victims made our existence inescapable.

People with AIDS; Frank Kameny. Matthew Shepard; “God Hates Fags.” Too many to count, and still going on today; Edie Windsor, fighting DOMA to the Supreme Court; Uganda’s David Kato, murdered for being Gay.

Sweet Matt, an Episcopalian headed for a career in the State Department; he wanted to serve his country.

Sweet Matt, an Episcopalian headed for a career in the State Department; he wanted to serve his country.

All that victimization finally piled up – just as a new generation arrived, determined, as new generations always are, to prove that their parents were completely wrong about something very important.

For my generation it was the War in Vietnam, civil rights, women’s rights. For this generation, we’re It.

I still hate their tattoos and always will, but thank you, America’s Youth. You are once again leading the world.

2008 election results among LGBTs. (Political Science & Politics Journal)

2008 election results among swing-state LGBTs. With Democrats, women and young voters, we elected this President. His re-election marks another generational realignment in the governing coalition, much as Reagan changed the 1980s. (Political Science & Politics Journal)

Marriage is easier to deal with than discrimination.

When America changes, even radically, the change is only partial. Yes, we fought a civil war to end slavery. But we waited another hundred years to start to enact racial equality.

Same-sex marriage will soon be the law of the land, whether or not we win the cases to be argued this month in the Supreme Court. Maybe we’ll lose; we lost Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986, then won Lawrence v. Texas just 15 years later. Yay, Gay people can have adult sex in private without getting thrown in jail!

(Justice Scalia, hateful bigot that he is, was right in Lawrence, that if Gay sex was made legal, Gay marriage wouldn’t be far behind.)

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed, but the Employment Non-Discrimination Act continues to languish. Apparently it’s okay with Congress if you’re queer and willing to die for your country, but not okay to be Gay at Chick Fil-A.

Tracey Hepner and her wife, Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith.

Tracey Hepner and her wife, Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith.

Marriage is something everyone can identify with (even as heterosexuals increasingly reject it), while having a job where you’re treated the same as everyone else is still too much to ask. This is just what John Lewis, Dr. King and millions of African-Americans went through in 1965; “you’re citizens but you’re not allowed to vote.”

Picketing the White House in 1965; not a leatherman or bikey dyke in sight.

“Homosexuals Are Citizens, Too”: picketing the White House in 1965, not a leatherman or bikey dyke in sight.

Of all the Gay issues to provoke a deep response in Americans, why is marriage the great galvanizer? I think it comes down to two things.

First, Falwell and his ilk were and are such clowns that anyone could see through them and laugh, long before Jon Stewart perfected political satire on “The Daily Show.” Ol’ Jerry was kind of a big fat guy, and he set himself up for ridicule the day he went after Tinky-Winky.

Falwell was a firm believer in using simple, powerful symbols to get his message across; his Moral Majority rallies featured lots of flags and patriotic music sung by well-scrubbed, clean-cut White kids; it was like getting beaten over the head with a Pat Boone record. But Falwell made a mistake when he went after this little cartoon kid.

Falwell was a firm believer in using simple, powerful symbols to get his message across. His Moral Majority rallies featured lots of flags and patriotic music sung by well-scrubbed, clean-cut White kids; those rallies were like getting beaten over the head with a Pat Boone record. But Falwell made a mistake when he went after this innocent cartoon kid.

Something else happened as part of this that I don’t think anyone’s really noticed.

• Goaded by their girlfriends, young Straight men stopped feeling threatened by Gay men.

I suspect this is the most powerful change of all; the dueling stereotypes (“All Gay men are sissies”/”All Gay men are dangerous rapists”) lost their power.

This is the personal, psychic equivalent of today’s political statement that Gay marriage has no effect on Straight marriages.

So live-and-let-live will soon become the law. Not even Fundamentalists can shout down “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s scripture in the United States, a self-evident truth.

It is a sad fact, though built into our democracy, that the law always lags social change. The battles over evolution and climate change are winding down, too. Obama’s re-election sealed their fate. I don’t know what will become of the Republican Party, but it’s increasingly obvious that ya just can’t turn back the clock. The 195os are done.

This is the best generation of young Straight men the world’s ever seen. My admiration for them knows no bounds. (Well, it knows one bound; I don’t desire them. But you know what I mean.) These guys are great!

When Scalia lost the football players, all hope went with them.

This Is What a Feminist Looks Like: when Scalia lost the football players, all hope went with them.

Finally, there’s this; it goes back to that quiet conversation between Gayboy and Grandma, Lezziegrrl and Grandpa. On the back porch, or over a cup of tea, or right after a big screamfest in the living room, or down at the fishin’ hole, where you have to whisper because the fish have ears:

It isn’t just sex, it’s love.

Well, it's both sex and love, actually. But love remains, decades after sex fades. And there aren't many grandparents in America who would deprive their kid of that.

Well, it’s both sex and love, actually. But love remains, decades after sex fades. And there are fewer and fewer grandparents who would deprive their kid of that.

So we win – and will live to fight again another day.++

Gay Valentines, 1980: Comedy or Revolution?

Gay Cupid

Eons ago in my undergraduate days at the University of Cincinnati, I decided that Gay students needed to organize themselves; I was in social work school, and the origin of the profession lies in community organizing (howdy, Barack!). So I founded something called the UC Gay and Lesbian Alliance to fight for our rights; David Packer and David Giesler were two of the early leaders. The group continued for decades, and over the years added B’s, T’s and Q’s to its name, until it’s now subsumed in an official university-funded LGBTQ Center, which you can find here.

Well, it’s one thing to have meetings and organize yourselves, but the question soon arose, What shall we do? We decided to have a dance for Valentine’s Day.

We reserved a room in the student center, arranged for some music (disco, no doubt), made up flyers and sent out announcements; no one comes to a dance they don’t know is being held. There was no Facebook or e-mail in those days; we posted flyers in the bars and sent out press releases hoping to get four lines in the community calendar of the student newspaper.

I didn’t give this project a great deal of thought; it just seemed like a fun activity – until the TV cameras showed up.

I don’t recall having a boyfriend at the time, though I was never long without one in those days. I knew I could find someone to dance with; meanwhile let’s make sure the decorations are in place and we’ve got something to eat and drink, right? Wrong.

As the president and founder, I was the one reporters sought out for interviews. Fine, I thought, this will put us on the map and let the university know we mean business. (UC already had a non-discrimination policy.) Besides, as one of the first two people to come out publicly in the city – with full real names and everything, in the Sunday paper the year before – I was comfortable being in the media.

They all wanted to know if we were trying to “take over” Valentine’s Day.

Our dance floor was about this crowded.

Our dance floor was about this crowded.

I was, to put it mildly, nonplused. “Since when do heterosexuals own Valentine’s Day? We came here to dance.”

You’d have thought I was a Gay Panther, armed and dangerous. The reporters were all paranoid; I didn’t expect that.

Valentine’s Day is a “cherished institution,” they said. (Where have you heard that before?) Lovers look forward to it every year; the stores are full of chocolates and roses. “I know; I bought some.”

Meanwhile the TV cameras were busy taping people dancing – forty people, tops, counting the wallflowers.

My view of the TV shot was Look at all this empty space on the dance floor. We were a new organization, lucky to get the few people we had. Most of our efforts up to then were focused on gaining university recognition as an official group, so we’d qualify for the right to reserve a room.

Reporters demanded whether this was a sign of Gay student militancy at the university? “I think it’s a sign that there are actual Gay people here, and that we dance like anyone else.”

All their questions were variations on this theme; reporters couldn’t get their heads around the idea that Gayness and love are connected – I suppose they all thought that “Gay” meant nothing but sex in the bushes, not actual romance – while I couldn’t get my head around the fact that they were so clueless.

Soon enough the videographers had all the tape they needed of half a dozen people pretending to have fun to Donna Summer and the Village People, and the reporters ran out of new ways to ask the same thing, so they packed up and left. As I recall the party did not greatly improve on their leaving; the wallflower caucus remained the biggest group.

We made the news that night, though; we usually led off the second segment, after the anchors used us as a tease going into commercial, “Queers hold a Valentine’s dance at UC, stay tuned!”

The reports on the different stations all looked the same; Josh the talking head, music playing in the background, then video of half a dozen souls bravely bobbing up and down. I didn’t regard it as a great triumph, and I don’t think the president of UC broke a sweat over us either. But at least we got on the teevee.

Two nights from now, the LGBTQ Center and Colors of Pride will sponsor a Valentine’s Day Mixer on Friday, February 15 in the same student center where we held our forlorn little party 33 years ago; maybe the exact same room. I hope they get a better turnout than we did. I don’t suppose reporters will swarm.

And in a few weeks the world will learn whether the inclusive prom at Sullivan High School in Indiana will be successful, or the bigot prom at another location will rival it. Special education teacher Diana Medley, demanding a Straights-only prom, has equated LGBTs with the developmentally disabled (!) and says Gay people “have no purpose.”

Special ed teacher Diana Medley says you're retarded and have no purpose. But she doesn't even work at Sullivan High School, so she's obviously dipping into an issue that doesn't affect her.

Special ed teacher Diana Medley says you’re disabled and have no purpose. But she doesn’t even work at Sullivan High School; she’s obviously dipping into an issue that doesn’t affect her, so she can get TV time and proclaim her love for Jesus.

The pastor at the First Christian Church in Sullivan, which hosted the Straights-only prom meeting, has disavowed it, saying all he did was let some people use a room. Other Christian leaders have come out affirmatively for the inclusive prom. It looks to me like that’s the one that will succeed. If so, the bigots will tell each other that Christians are being victimized again.

Thank God for today’s students. For those at Sullivan High School, the upcoming dance is certainly revolutionary. As for my little Valentine’s Day gig, I’d have to call it comedy; no matter what I tried I couldn’t peel the wallflowers away from their wall.++

"Are Gay people trying to take over Valentine's Day?"

“Gay people are trying to take over Valentine’s Day!”