An Editorial by Norm Kent
Last week was mind boggling! One week after bumping numerous stories because of breaking news content related to gay suicides, bullying, and adoption, again this week, the nation’s news epicenters have focused on our lives. And I find myself writing a second full page editorial.
This week we heard of an attack upon gay men at the Stonewall Inn, the gay NYC landmark, is our White House. Eight attackers have already been arrested and charged with a hate crime.
Instead of a heightened sensitivity by candidates in New York towards anti gay violence, the Republican standard bearer for Governor goes to a Hasidic Jewish forum and viciously rails on gays, denouncing gay pride parades and boasting he has never marched in them, then intimating our lives are dysfunctional. He then hit the trifecta by commenting that “being gay is not the example that we should be showing our children."
What Carl Paladino did say was "I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family." He added that “I'm sure lots of gay and lesbian New Yorkers would love to get married and raise a family,” but to save us from our foolishness, he added he would veto any such bill.
After all, he added of gays: “I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't." Another inflammatory statement, that "there is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual," was in the prepared remarks but Paladino didn't say it. So what, does anyone think he did not presume it?
What world are we living in that both in New York and Florida the Republican Party can promote religious Neanderthals as gubernatorial candidates? I will get to Scott in an issue down the road, because this was all during a week when Manhattan was rocked by brutal anti gay hate crimes.
How bad was it in New York?
The Stonewall incident paled in comparison to revelations that nine members of a Bronx street gang brutalized one of their 17-year-old recruits when they discovered he was gay.
Early in the morning on Oct. 3, the gang members allegedly lured the teenager to an abandoned apartment, stripped him, beat him and sodomized him using a plunger handle. Prosecutors say the gang then lured the 30-year-old man seen with their recruit and another 17-year-old boy in to the apartment.They too were tortured, in an attack city officials have condemned for its brutality.
Meanwhile, in downtown Utah, where we expect this kind of thing, we were not disappointed. Boyd K. Packer, president of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, spoke about homosexuality thusly: “There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature,”
Packer addressed more than 20,000 members in attendance and millions more watching a broadcast of the Mormon faith’s 180th General Conference via satellite. He told his audience that “homosexual tendencies are impure and unnatural.” He said we gays are going to bring down society.
“We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God,” the senior apostle declared. “If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must indeed perish.” South Florida may be a gay ghetto where you can gather in the sun, but there is a world out there that still hates you and wants you buried in a closet or lynched on a rope. Welcome to the Mormon choir.
The HRC has launched a nationwide letter writing campaign in protest. The letter they are asking you to send Elder Parker is on their website, and it castigates him for his appalling speech, which, they argue rightly, “further alienates LGBT youth and potentially contributes to suicides of even more vulnerable young people…”
But just as Dan Choi chained himself to the White House, maybe the HRC dinner last week should not have been in Washington, D.C. Maybe we should go to Salt Lake City, one million strong, and let the Mormons know who we are. Valerie Jarrett, a White House advisor, delivered the keynote address to the HRC last week, and we published most of her talk on page six, with the full text online. Still, someone needs to tell the HRC we need more direct action and less inaction.
For two years, with a Democratic Congressional majority, and a supportive administration, we have gotten lip service. We have not achieved an end to discrimination in the armed forces or a victory with ENDA. And the Democrats are about to get their donkey’s kicked next month. Aren’t you tired of lame excuses, weak apologies, and misleading leaders when your brothers and sisters are being killed in the streets?
We make advances one day and we are greeted with homophobic extremism the next. We have to act, not react. We have to demand our rights today in the streets. Cocktail parties just aren’t cutting it, folks.
When will you stand up like Howard Beale (Peter Finch) and say, as he did 34 years ago in ‘Network,’ “I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Our newspaper is your voice. It is time to shout and be heard, seen and mobilize, stand up and be counted, and not in a poll for the best place to pick up a date. Pick up a sign and take over a congressman’s office. They are trespassing on our rights. Let’s trespass on theirs.