Drag Queens and a Few Bricks

Last Friday a couple hundred gays and their friends chased a small group of young Christian preachers out of the Castro, calling them “bigots” and chanting “Don’t come back!”

I wish I’d been there.

The video of the event, or rather part of the event, has now been posted on YouTube, along with a written account by one of the preachers, who claims that they were both physically and sexually assaulted.

“It wasn’t long before the violence turned to perversion. They were touching and grabbing me, and trying to shove things in my butt, and even trying to take off my pants – basically trying to molest me…”

Unfortunately for him the video doesn’t capture any of this particular “molestation,” but our little gay uprising has predictably garnered both scorn and ridicule, and our community is accused of hostility and intolerance, and all weekend I wrestled with my conscience over the primal anger that still sweeps through me when I watch this video.

Why so angry? Why so hostile? The reasons may seem obvious to us, but since all of the preacher’s buddies on YouTube keep asking those questions, let me take a stab.

We grew up wondering what the hell was wrong with us, why we were so different from everyone around us. We observed and learned how to act, and some of us could hide that part of ourselves and pass, and some couldn’t, and those are the ones who were mocked and beaten on playgrounds and in cafeterias and gymnasiums.

We started to figure out how we were different, and how we were perceived. And for the rest of our lives we were told that we weren’t good enough, that we were sick and immoral and doomed to Hell.

Sometimes we made it out of adolescence without slitting our wrists, and we grew up and started looking for each other but we could only find each other in bars, because any other place was too dangerous. And those bars were raided by the police and we were rounded up and thrown in jail and our names printed in newspapers.

We were thrown out of jobs, out of schools, out of the military, out of churches. We were disinherited and shunned from our own families.

Our own bedrooms weren’t safe, according to our government.

When we got sick and died by the thousands we were ignored, and then told that it was all our fault. “God’s punishment,” they called it.  Only when Magic Johnson revealed his HIV-positive status, after thousands and thousands of us had already died, did the media treat AIDS as a legitimate story.

We couldn’t join our friends and partners in their hospital rooms, or at their funerals, because we weren’t considered family. Or we were allowed at the funerals only to see Fred Phelps and his followers show up to console us in our grief with signs that read, “God Hates Fags.”

When we asked for the same rights that everyone else enjoys we were castigated for wanting “special privileges.”  Our fight for the same rights that straight people take for granted was called the “Homosexual Agenda.”

We were blamed for threatening the institution of marriage by people who drunkenly wed in Las Vegas chapels, people who committed adultery and beat their wives and their children and then preached and pointed fingers from pulpits on television every Sunday.

We were the scapegoats and the punching bags for Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Born-Again Christians, to name just a few. And our supposed allies couldn’t stand up for us because they might be mistaken for one of us, and that, as everyone knew, was the worst thing you could be.

We were barred from adopting the children of people who weren’t capable of parenting themselves, let alone someone else. We watched as people wrung their hands on television and cried that their children needed to be protected from us, that children needed to be sheltered their whole lives from even realizing that we existed.

Each and every one of us grew up surrounded by images, in magazines and television shows and movies and on every street in every city in the country, of straight people kissing and fucking and holding hands. But when we demanded the right to marry we were “shoving it down their throats.”

We were told by our families not to bring our partners home for the holidays, so we left our partners and flew home and sat around the dining table with people who pretended that we were something we weren’t, and that everything was fine when it wasn’t.

We read in newspapers  that “I-killed-the-faggot-because-he-made-a-pass-at-me” is a legitimate legal defense.

We were allowed to dress up straight men on television, and listen to straight women recount their relationship problems while we nodded sympathetically and told them that their shoes were fabulous. They let us plan their weddings. But the idea of a gay wedding was just too much, too soon.

We were told  that our love for each other was sick and immoral and undeserving of protection. They placed our love in the same category as incest and bestiality.

We were even blamed for Hurricane Katrina.

People who haven’t walked an inch in our shoes told their followers with unwavering conviction that we chose to be gay. That this distinction (this lie) therefore separated us from all of those who fought for their “legitimate” civil rights. That we didn’t even deserve to use the phrase “civil rights.”

We were told, decade after decade, by the political allies that we elected and supported, that we needed to be even more patient than we’d already been, that our time hadn’t come, that Americans weren’t ready for us to have the same rights as everyone else.

So we retreated from the scorn and the violence, and we built little communities, neighborhoods in cities where we could feel some measure of safety and belonging, however fleeting or illusory, where a few of us could feel bold enough to hold our partner’s hand when we walked down the street, in our neighborhoods, just a couple of square miles, here and there, scattered across the country.

And still they came. Over and over people who claimed that they were led by God came into our lives, came into our funerals and our bedrooms and our relationships, called us immoral and disgusting, arrested us, beat us, robbed us, and killed us.

And still they came. After we’d been given the right to marry, after we’d stood in line at City Hall, after we’d baked each other cakes and made cards and bought presents, after we’d taken each other’s photos and stood and witnessed our love for each other while surreptitiously wiping tears from our eyes, after all of that, they still had to come. They came into our private lives, and stripped away our rights.

And Friday night, after we’d lost at the polls, after we watched the entire world celebrate the “dawning of a new day,” after our rights had been eliminated, after we’d crawled back to our neighborhoods and licked our wounds and talked to each other about what we should do next, they came again, into our neighborhood, into the Castro, to try and save our souls.

They were just stupid kids, with the worst sense of timing ever, but they were led by “love,” right? They came into our neighborhood, after we had suffered such a defeat, to “worship and to sing.” How innocent it all sounds.

But why us, why the Castro? They came into our neighborhood because we’re still not good enough, we’re not worthy of respect, we are immoral and wrong and in need of their salvation, and their compassionate, Christian beliefs somehow prevented them from questioning the wisdom of their timing, in such a neighborhood.

And it comes as no surprise that after our backlash, after we’ve chased them out of our neighborhood, after we’ve gathered at their temples, and marched around their churches, after we’ve made public the already-public record of their campaign contributions, they wring their hands and cry to the cameras that we are the intolerant ones, we are the hostile ones, we are the ones denying them their simple human rights.

What’s surprising to me is that we waited so long to chase them out of the Castro.  That we haven’t chased them out a thousand times. What’s surprising to me is how tolerant we’ve been, for so many years.

Let me put it blunty. We’ve taken their abuse, and we’ve taken it some more, and then, just when we thought we’d taken enough, we took some more.

I’ve read on more than one gay blog that our anger is a dangerous emotion, that we shouldn’t act on it, that we should just ignore it. But if a bunch of drag queens hadn’t gotten pissed off and thrown some bricks nearly forty years ago, none of us would even have a gay blog. They’d put up with the scorn and the violence and the police raids for so many years, and something that night put them over the edge. Instead of meekly surrendering to yet another raid, something that night pushed them in a new and exhilarating direction. The first to fight back were the drag queens, hustlers, butch dykes, and street kids, who threw pennies, bottles, and bricks from a nearby construction site. The same types that some of us still want to push to the margins and keep from television cameras.

Just like some of us want to pretend that we can only reach our goals by acting like Ghandi.

The anger of the crowd at Stonewall swelled and turned, over the following weeks, into an urgency for broader activism. Within two years there were gay rights groups in every major American city. We’ve continued their work but grown complacent, and overestimated our so-called assimilation.

But Prop 8 is our flashpoint. For the first time we had a right taken away, one that we had enjoyed and honored for five short months. After 18,000 weddings a simple majority of Californians, preached to by their church elders, persuaded by deceitful commercials funded in part by non-Californians, stripped us of that right.

Lately, the conventional wisdom in the Castro said that the neighborhood was changing, losing its character, its gay essence. Too many straight people were moving in, with their children and their double-wide strollers. And really, wasn’t that to be expected? As we were more widely “accepted,” as we were assimilated into society, our neighborhoods were bound to change. To disappear.

Friday night reminded some of us, at least, how important our neighborhoods still are, and that we all have our flashpoints.

In a perfect world we could walk down the streets of the Castro and pass the preachers with only a glance, and continue on our way, and let them sing and worship and maybe even convert a desperate soul or two. In a perfect world we could all sit down at a table and talk peacefully and reach some diplomatic compromise. We could work with the communities and the religious representatives that have opposed us, and come to a better understanding of each other, and reach our common goals.

I’ve never seen that world, and I never will.

Sometimes it takes anger, along with diplomacy. Sometimes a few drag queens need to throw a few bricks for things to finally change, or for things to at least begin to change.

We are human, with human emotions, and one of those emotions is anger.
And sometimes we need to fight back before others begin to see that maybe we’re stronger than we appear, and maybe they need to back off, and question their methods. We need our anger. We need our outrage. We need to fight back. Our anger could take us farther, in the next few months, than we’ve gone in the last few years.

Most of the time, when we live in the gay ghetto, our oppressors are abstract: a flickering image on a television, a cluster of words in the newspaper. Rarely do we get to see them face-to-face, as some of us did that night in the Castro.

I still wrestle with my conscience. I don’t know what I recommend. I don’t know what, exactly, is the surest road to our goals. There is a part of me, maybe the larger part, that feels only relief that I missed out, the part of me that knows that what happened was ugly and divisive, the part that questions if our backlash served our goals.

But it’s the other part of me that’s writing this, the other part of me that scares myself, the part I want to let loose, if only in words, to give it room to stomp around and fume. The part of me that looks back over the history of civil rights, to search out what role anger played.

That part of me wishes that I had been there, that night in the Castro, to have, for a few minutes at least, real, flesh-and blood examples of our oppressors, to feel the rage ignite within me, and around me, to watch in both surprise and elation my peers shake themselves out of that quiet place of resignation, to watch everyone around me cross the line that we’ve kept ourselves behind for so many decades, despite what the world keeps handing us. For one night, for a few short minutes, to chase our enemies from our home, and watch them flee, flanked by cops in riot gear, until they disappear from view, and we can turn back to each other and celebrate.

Posted November 17th, 2008 in gay marriage, Prop 8, story, writing.

65 comments:

  1. Carson Gaspar:

    My favorite quote from one of the Stonewall riot drag queens is “It was hot as hell, Judy Garland had just died, and we were NOT in the mood!”

  2. homer:

    All three of the people who I met who were for the anti-gay marriage amendment here in Arizona used the Bible as their reason. I’m over having mentally ill people who believe in make-believe crap tell me how to live my life. I was pleased the gays in SF took matters into their own hands.

  3. Rick:

    Write on brother, write on….Yea, that’s how I meant to spell it.

  4. steven patterson:

    Baby, it’s so good to have you back on a regular basis. But finish that book, please.

  5. Drew:

    Your eloquence is so greatly appreciated. I’ve added a copy of this post to my FB page, in hopes of educating more people.

    Thank you for all of your passion and for sharing it with the world.

  6. Casey:

    Michael, you’re amazing. Thank you for giving a clear voice to my anger.

  7. Dean Hanrahan:

    I found this to be beautifully written and thought provoking. Although gay my whole life I am only recently taking more of an interest in discrimination against the gay men and women so the opportunity to read something like this is much appreciated. With admiration, Dean x

  8. victor:

    great post! This should be on the front page of the newspaper and read aloud on CNN. I think you have perfectly captured what we are all thinking and feeling.

  9. April:

    I read an article once that said when you’re being mugged, you should tell the assailant your name. Apparently, it’s much harder to harm someone you know.

    Many of the people who voted for Prop 8 don’t know any gay people (or don’t think they do). For them, “gays” are an abstract, which makes it easier to deny them their rights. It’s much more difficult to close that curtain and vote against the rights of people you know and love.

    I understand the very real need to “retreat” and “build little communities”, but I think that need has changed. The bigger need, in my opinion, is to now become a part of a larger community.

    The next step ought to be less about warfare and more about education.

    This is not the time to close ranks and throw people out of your neighborhood. This is the time to come into theirs.

  10. dogpoet:

    I’m not advocating that we “retreat.” I’m answering the question, “Why so angry?”

    As for going out in the world and educating… we’ve been trying to do that for years. And I’ve read several accounts by people who voted Yes on 8 who have gay relatives but still thought we shouldn’t be able to marry.

    Talking to them sounds like a nice idea, but I’m less and less convinced that it’s possible to reason with religion. Our chances are better in the legal system, with the courts, as most civil rights cases have been won that way. Not by reasoning with the majority.

    That said, part of keeping this blog is in hopes of reaching others. So if that counts as educating…

  11. Richard:

    Thank you for putting into words everything I have been feeling but didn’t know how to articulate. You are an amazing writer.

  12. Belmont:

    I’ve read a lot of stuff over the past few months
    about same-sex marriage and Prop. 8. I feel like
    I could just hand a copy of your post to someone
    who would ask: “Why are ‘you people’ so upset?”
    and say: “This is why.”

    Thanks for your continued thoughtful writing.

  13. Patrick:

    Sometime in early October, I saw my first “Yes On 8″ bumper sticker on the inside of a Volvo station wagon at a Peet’s in Mountain View. Next to the sticker was a note explaining that their “Yes on 8″ message had been torn off their car several times and they were forced to display it from the inside. I dismissed it as a fringe Volvo driver.

    But then I saw more signs pop up along my route to the school — first a homemade sign, then a few of the campaign’s official yellow posters with the shiny happy children graphic. Then a big sign across the street from the high school. Some not so subtle warnings from administration at my school to not display any political messages in our classroom. Be careful how we discuss Prop 8.

    At 7 am on the Monday before the election, I watched as a man got out of his car and set up another “Yes” poster on city property. This was my first glance at the face behind the hate. He could have been a parent of one of my students. Maybe even a former student. I didn’t get a good look at his face. What I noticed most was that he looked experienced, hurried and determined — like he had a few more stops to make that morning.

    It’s a good thing I didn’t have a brick.

    Thanks DOGPOET for your angry but thoughtful response. I needed to read this tonight and am grateful for the opportunity to respond.

  14. John Kusch:

    You needed to write that for yourself, but I’m glad you let me watch.

    Let’s never forget that we have a right to be full, living, breathing, feeling human beings.

  15. David:

    The capacity to succinctly and successfully summarise how so many people currently feel is an incredible skill, Captain Awesome.

    Also, I like this poem.

    “In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

    And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

    And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

    And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

  16. Dharma Kelleher:

    I too was angry. I too have been beaten and rejected and fired and harassed for being queer. We have a right to be angry. And allowing ourselves to experience it when it comes up is important. Blocking or denying our emotions isn’t healthy.

    But too easily we let our anger at the injustice turn into hate against our persecutors. This is understandable, completely reasonable. But ultimately unproductive.

    Hate further strengthens the walls that have been built against us. If we are to achieve equality, we must abandon these walls and build bridges over them.

    I’m not talking about naively pretending the problem isn’t there. Rather I am encouraging us to do the difficult thing and show the world that we are better than that.

    We cannot build allies in the straight world with our hate. And we cannot achieve equality without them. Rather we must speak out strongly against the hate, with self-respect and respect for all people.

    I have so much love and respect for dogpoet and everyone who has commented. I hear your frustration. It is my frustration too. I had to come out twice. Once as transgender and again as lesbian. I lost my job, my wife, my home, my family, my church.

    But we will overcome. We are a strong people. We are not going away. Change is coming. But we have to be alert to the delusions of ego that threaten to divide us and block the way.

    Be part of the solution and trust the process.

  17. Huntington:

    Michael, so much of what you wrote is beautiful and true, and I hesitate to introduce the inevitable “but” …

    But … never mind. I agree with what Dharma Kelleher wrote just above this comment. The anger is understandable (and I feel it too, of course I do), but what we do with the anger is highly debatable. We’re soooo close to winning, and we will win, and a lot faster, really, than a lot of other groups have won. If even one instance of legal assault or battery actually occurred that night, then we cede the high ground.

  18. dogpoet:

    I appreciate the constructive feedback about anger. At the risk of sounding pretentious, which I occasionally am: I’m not a politician. I’m a writer. The writers I most admire go after the truth. If they always took the high road, then we would have no compelling literature. I’m not interested in sugarcoating or whitewashing genuine emotion. If you want the moral high road, go to HRC’s website. If you want to know how one man feels, honestly, about what’s going on around him, come here.

  19. Mathew Philip:

    Thank you. This helps me.

  20. Moby:

    I was fortunate enough to witness the event first hand. I can tell you I feared for their safety. I believe had the police not arrived the mob mentality would have prevailed and we would be reading very different headlines in the news today. On a side rant, I’ve been wondering if that is exactly what they hoped would happen. Anyway, things were getting quite ugly until the police arrived. To their credit, the police stayed back and just helped maintain a sense of order.

    I’ve always catered to the belief ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. I’ll admit it is hard to follow sometimes but I look back on how far we have come and I still have hope. We may have had a setback with the passage of that ugly amendment but, it has helped to unite and galvanize us once again.

    I’ve always believed living openly and honestly is the best cure for ignorance and irrational fear. I still believe that even if I am dismayed and more than a little angry right now.

    Make no mistake, the gloves are off! They want a fight? They got one. But when I go to bed at night, I can sleep good knowing I held to my integrity and sense of right thru the ordeal.

  21. Kelly Stern:

    I ran across this entry through another blog I read… You have done and excellent job of summerizing how so many of us feel. I agree this may be our Judy Garland moment… which drag queen will throw the biggest brick through the biggest window, is yet to be seen… but I think it is around the corner… I will be linking this on my own little blog… Thank you so much for a great, well thought out blog post!

  22. Chuck:

    Wow. Just wow. You have been able to put into words some of what I’ve been feeling but unable to “really” articulate most of my adult life – and I truly thank you for that.

    I’m glad Kelly linked this on his blog – I hope you don’t mind if I put it on mine either – from what I’ve been reading, your stuff is GREAT!

    Cheers M8!

  23. My Hero! « Chuck In A Box:

    [...] Anyway his Our Own Judy Garland post is an absolute MUST READ for any gay/lesbian person.  I would also recommend it to any non-GLBT folks as it gives and incredible insight into how many (I won’t say all but….) of us feel about the recent news regarding Prop 8 in California. « Oh…this old thing? [...]

  24. Karen:

    I found your post via Kelly Stern’s link. I’m so glad that I did. You’ve put words to a feeling that is coursing through the gay communities in all of America right now. I feel that something is about to happen here. Thanks for putting words to it.

  25. Matthew Thompson:

    Martin Luther King had his Malcolm X… maybe the anger is just as necessary as the civility for us to get equality.

  26. Bart:

    Wonderful post!

  27. jimbo:

    “I’m not interested in sugarcoating or whitewashing genuine emotion. If you want the moral high road, go to HRC’s website.”

    Ha ha ha…good one. And as others have said, thanks for writing a clear vision of what so many are thinking.

  28. Jeffrey:

    As Clairee Belcher said, if you can’t say anything nice, come sit by me. Or as Sister Souljah said, two wrongs don’t make a right, but it makes it even.

  29. Daniel:

    Great post. Thank you so much for putting into words what many of us are feeling.

  30. Craig:

    Well said! I left my heart in SF but still she does me proud. That video is glorious. It takes a lot, maybe too much, but when provoked the queers fight back. This defeat is the spark we’ve needed to galvanize the national community to do this together and win. Across the nation we are organizing and we will get there. This anger needs to be remembered in the days and years to come so we don’t falter. As for these poor christian “victims” of our intolerance and molestation?? really! – where does it say something about bearing false witness? Don’t they know? They should have stayed home that night and studied the book some more.

  31. Sean:

    Amazing Post! I am truly impressed with your words and agree with your sentiment…I look forward to reading more from you. As a gay man, as a blogger, as a human being…thank you for this.

  32. Sean:

    FYI: I have re-posted this in it’s entirety on my blog, giving you full credit and linking back to your blog. Hope that’s OK.

  33. Brent:

    Amazing post.

  34. Boomer:

    I agree this is an amazing post. It really captures why all the rage. I just hope we can channel the rage in a positive direction. When people get physically hurt (even those who would harm our cause)it hurts us all. Rage on positively!

  35. Rhyno:

    Thank you!

  36. Thomas:

    Very nice post. I would like to note that the “we” you refer to doesn’t actually encompass the whole community of gay people. You said that you were simply expressing one man’s voice (yours), but you wrote “we” the whole time.

    My experiences as a gay man have been more positive in society than negative, and I do not share in the anger that is so prevalent these days. Everyone struggles in life, not just gay people. Our struggles are not unique, even if they are different. I have insecurities as a gay man, like I do about lots of aspects of myself. But I also know that so many of my strengths and talents have been shaped by being gay, and I simply can’t find it in me to be angry just because I have struggles like everyone else does.

    It was frustrating to be so excited that Obama won the election and then see Proposition 8 pass, but we MUST match the President-elect’s spirit as we fight our own fight for equality. We must take the high ground whether we like it or not, because we can’t just vote it (the high ground) into office and then go back to fighting with rage and anger. We must embrace in ourselves the qualities (tolerance, patience, insistance, intelligence) that makes Obama so appealing.

  37. dogpoet:

    Thanks everyone for the feedback, it’s very much appreciated.

    Thomas you have a good point about my inconsistency re: “we” vs. “one man’s opinion.” Maybe I should have rephrased that. But I don’t think the fact that we are legally denied access to rights that everyone else enjoys counts as a “struggle.” Feels like more than a day-to-day struggle to me. More like a flagrant injustice in regards to our Constitution.

    Which is not to say that I don’t love being gay. You couldn’t pay me to be straight. And maybe I’ll write more about that one of these days, just to balance out the gloom of this post. Thanks for the comment.

  38. Steve Houldsworth:

    It is wonderful to read someone else talking about the anger that I feel so strongly. I completely disagree that anger is unproductive. Anger is the energy the drives us into action. We must demand our rights and use any means necessary to get them. MLK’s non-violent tactics were especially effective in the civil rights movement because Black militants were willing to use other tactics. We need both in our LGBT rights movement today. Most of need to stop being Mr. & Ms. Nice Gay.

  39. jennie:

    hi michael,
    also, with all due respect thomas, it’s not a question of feeling secure in one sexuality or another. i’m glad you have had a positive experience generally, but so many have not.

    like mike said, in regards to our constitution we’re getting fucked. and obama will be obama (i’m ecstatic for him and us, but i’m expecting a politician. a principled one and intelligent, but you know, a politician), i don’t think it bodes particularly well that DADT is being put off until 2010. nor do i think the incident in the castro comes out of left field, or should be debated as an aberration of strong, unleashed and misguided feeling.

    everything mikey outlined is true, in this case his broad generalizations work. the internalized disgust and hate needs to be addressed. we are fucking bombarded by it, and it flares up emotionally, politically, and religiously, and culturally. and i think you’re kidding yourself if it’s all good in your world it should be reflected “out there”. that seems a little disingenuous.

    kids are shot in class by their classmates and then pegged for bringing it on themselves, gay kids are eviscerated in strongly religious (mormon and otherwise) communities, rappers want to kill us, mob rule prevails in hate crimes against US in all areas. something as seemingly a non-issue as “that’s so gay” takes on menacing undercurrents. this is not okay.

    how do tell someone respectfully to go fuck themselves and get out of a safe haven? you don’t.

    yes, i have a problem with gay marriage as THE issue. but i also hate complacency. no one should be threatened and beaten, no one. those kids “asked” to leave the castro were young and it’s really compelling to me that they were there in the first place. i mean, wow. they really believe they were saving souls.

    what mike’s written isn’t one man’s experience. i think it would be really dangerous to take it as such.

  40. Scott:

    I came here via the recommendation of Matterdays blog, and I am glad I did! Thank you for putting a voice to my own frustrations. Thank you for helping me sort out some of my feelings. You write very eloquently but your words still hit home. Again, Thanks. :)

  41. tornwordo:

    Excellent post. I think we should all come out with our high school beating stories too. The stories we buried out of shame. Watching the Dr Phil show yesterday had my hostile feelings so ramped up that I imagined assassinating the people defending prop 8. I felt ashamed about it, but now after reading this, not so much.

  42. Curtis:

    Brilliant! Thank you!

  43. Justice4All:

    I’m angry because the gay ghetto leaders still won’t let us speak the truth no matter how politically-incorrect it is. For instance, I can’t say “Who are African-Americans to judge those with same-sex preferences when their own crime rate has increased four times over since the Civil rights period (even Rosa Parks wound up getting beaten and mugged!)?”

  44. jennie:

    thank you, “justice4all”, for proving thomas’ point.

    oy, people.

  45. david:

    Very well put! Thanks for sharing!

  46. Obscanity: You’ll know it when you see it » Blog Archive » D O G P O E T » Drag Queens and a Few Bricks:

    [...] D O G P O E T » Drag Queens and a Few Bricks: Last Friday a couple hundred gays and their friends chased a small group of young Christian preachers out of the Castro, calling them “bigots” and chanting “Don’t come back!” [...]

  47. dogpoet:

    Justice4All: careful that you don’t fall into the trap conservatives like Bill O’Reilly have set for us, turning one minority against another. The exit poll numbers, from which follow all the stories about African Americans voting against our rights, are notoriously unreliable. Which is not to excuse the ones who did vote against us. But the money trail of campaign contributions is more reliable, and when we follow that we find…Mormons and Catholics!

  48. Randy McCoy:

    Wonderful article. So many people came to my mind when I read this blog. My Grandmother and the family that allows her to ban my partner from her home. I had decided to go to her house for Thanksgiving this year — do I want to now? Not really — I’d rather mail this blog to her — but she wouldn’t read it.

    I will keep this link — and share when possible.

    Thanks

  49. Barbi Click:

    There is a righteous rage building and you have captured the essence of it. Thank you for sharing this. It is beautiful and it needs to be heard.

  50. Brenda:

    As a straight, your blog brought me to tears. While I was overjoyed that Obama won the presidency, his win was bittersweet for me — knowing that Prop 8 passed and my LGBT friends in California had lost. My son used to lie in the Castro and as a straight living there, he felt safe and welcome. It wasn’t until a local weekly rag ran a piece about the changing demographics of the Castro that he questioned where he was living. I, too, am torn on this issue. I love the Castro. I love that I feel safe there. I love that it IS what it IS because of its gay culture. As someone else noted in the comments, though, it’s time to BE in other neighborhoods, too. I’m hoping that with education, will come understanding if not total acceptance. Having said that, I have no clue how you go about educating the religious nutbags. Except that there are more of us than there are of them? In numbers, we can overcome them? I hope I’m right. And I hope that, constitutionally, this piece of garbage proposition will get over-turned.

    In solidarity –

    A native Californian now living in WA state (temporarily)

  51. Rob in SF and SD:

    I just lost most of my “Mormon” family this past week over their stand on Prop. 8 in CA and Prop. 102 in AZ, including my parents. I have been a completely loving and devoted son to them my entire life but after 25 years of what I thought was their “acceptance”, I found out that my partner and I were simply “tolerated”. When I simply asked them if they voted for the AZ prop., I was told “yes” and that I was considered by them to be “immoral, my lifestyle immoral and that people like me were akin to those whom The Lord destroyed in Sodom and Gommorah and that the idea of my partner and I being able to marry was a threat to the family”. It seems as though their religion has persuaded them to draw some sort of line in the sand. With that said, maybe I didn’t “lose” them. Maybe I never “had” them to begin with. Not only did this blog touch me emotionally, but the wide range of responses from so many of you that share common experiences and common pain with each other from years of being treated as “good enough to plan a wedding but not good enough to have one”. And regarding the debate that some have about anger and being angry, I’d like to point out that there is a difference with just being “angry” and to have “righteous anger”. We have the latter because we have the complete right and reason to stand up to those who would treat us with inequality and deny us our constitutional rights. As previously quoted, “In (1930′s) Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I said nothing”…….. Be Richteously Outraged! Thank you Michael! You’re a very talented writer and a thoughtful man.

  52. dogpoet:

    Rob, I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences with your family. Stories like yours (I’ve heard and read of several) make me wonder if there is any point in meeting with religious representatives. We can’t reason with religion, and if a gay family member can’t change their mind, a gay stranger has no chance at all. I’m glad you at least have your partner, and friends. Thanks for your feedback and encouragement.

  53. Long Story Longer:

    I’m straight and a proud activist for equal rights for my GLBT friends. This post reminds me of the Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “Then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”

  54. Donald Stitt:

    Dogpoet: another person to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day! Thank you for your eloquent post.

  55. Daniel:

    Bravo Dogpoet.

    Well said.

  56. Dodie:

    Such a poignant expression of what many of us feel about many of the things we wish to change about our world! I appreciate your inquisition about the role of anger in action and like you haven’t found clear answers but am searching. Though the assault on our gay brethren/sisters is a deeply personal and human experience, it also is ubiquitous – one more of many kinds of bigotry that stunt humanity’s potential. For now I choose Gandhi’s counsel to “be the change I wish to see,” and so I send an embrace to my fellows whose differences I value as much as our similarities.

  57. Show Me No Hate:

    Wonderful person stories, thank you.

    A word of caution to everyone: The religious right who supported Prop 8, Mormons and Catholics are basically in a moral jihad now against same-sex marriage. I must reiterate that police reports after police reports on suspected “gays lashing out” against these religious groups prove to be totally unfounded. Sure there is some heavy name calling, even some signs grabbed away from folks, but as far as the reports of those folks in the Castro molesting those Christians, like their Mormon underwear, its all magically made up. This is part of the ultimate plan for them to turn even moderate folks against homosexuals. If they can use these images and reports, it will make people scared of us. They did this with when blacks marched in the South. Propaganda is a wonderful too.

    Be careful out there, and carry a video camera to document their lies.

  58. Linda McMillan:

    You took the words right out of my mouth and said them better. Thank you.

  59. Chris:

    Michael, I saw this link from Joe’s website (Joe thought I called him Joel at the gym Sun.)

    I am so fatigued by the compassion we’ve shown our oppressors that my own anger is no longer contained. We’ve tried carrots, it’s now time for sticks.

    Walk softly and USE a big stick. The big stick is the courts. I feel our gay leaders failed miserably in leading the fight against Prop 8 because they used the compassion tactic. They also allowed the Prop 8 supporters to frame this as a religious/moral issue. You can’t can argue morals, right or wrong, with a church.

    This IS a civil issue, as determined by the California Supreme Court earlier this year. That MAKES it a civil rights issue despite all of those who would like to co-opt this concept for their own purposes. And as we found, minority groups DON’T stick together for the greater good, they seem to step on others as easily as they’d been stepped on themselves. They are as hypocritical as those they accuse of discrimination.

    This is why I say the biggest stick is the court. My only salve is placing my faith in the the state constitution which guarantees equal access to all. And anger is a good thing, and showing people that we can and will defend our turf is a good thing, too. It is time they fear us for a reason, not for their preachers fear-mongering.

    Each and every ‘group’ that has denounced our progress in society has used exactly the same tactics that we need to use. No more MR. Nice Gay.

  60. Lynn:

    A very eloquent description of a very rightious anger. Well done! I am a straight, middle-aged, catholic woman from Canada, and I watched with utter disbelief as the vote came in that fateful night. It’s unfortunate that many churches are the perfect nesting place for complete idiots! This is a matter of civil rights – Do NOT give up the fight!

    And…if you’re curious, yes I do have two gay/lesbian family members – an aunt who recently passed away, and a cousin who is married to a wonderful man (I wish I could be so lucky!).

    Be well, and Happy New Year! – may it bring equality.

  61. rob:

    Word. Thanks, Michael.

    As someone who got into a shouting match with a christian moron I can tell you that it is possible to physically hold back.

  62. RICHEY RICH:

    good lord, I’m reprinting this on my blog, and adding you to my blogroll. What a cathartic read.
    Had I been there, in the Castro, I would be in jail now on a murder one charge.

  63. Stravinsky:

    It’s tough being modern in a world some ways medieval.

    Religious sheep are as enlightened as they will ever be. There is no cheese down that hole.

    Marriage hadn’t been my issue, though I am now seeing the value in the dialogue surrounding it.

    Thank you for pointing out the gays who still want to marginalize the drag queens or leather boys (etc.) who are so often shown in media to “front” for the movement.

    Assimilation is a sorry and unhealthy substitute for acceptance (a word that grates on me, maybe “co-existance?” I really don’t give a fuck who you so magnanimously “accept”). Wearing Abercrombie while riding in the Wells Fargo float at Gay Pride is not even a cool statement, never mind activism.

    The gay rights movement has become a marketable minority marriage rights campaign. I can’t help wonder if this will stunt our personal progress towards internalized self-love, a love that would include well placed outrage at wrongs done us.

  64. Eric Hojka:

    In a few paragraphs you have described what I have felt for so many years. I rarely have been outwardly angry toward anyone, it takes a lot to get me to that point. Right now though, after reading your post, and experiencing that anger…I could throw a brick.

  65. michelle:

    my friend (slash gay husband :)) sent this to me today. it was a good reminder of why i do what i do, especially given what’s happened recently in maine and ny.