Doin’ Time in Bartlett, TN

Protesting LIA
Originally uploaded by p2son.

Wow, I feel so honored to have been able to attend the rally today outside of the Love in Action compound. What an amazing crowd assembled of all ages!

I met a father with his bisexual teenage daughter, Dr. Arnold Drake, the former national president of PFLAG, old friends (Jenness, Jonathan, Len) and new ones (Alex, Christopher, Michael).

I was especially impressed with the integrity of the protest organizers. When a TV camera man jockeyed to get a photo of Zach exiting the program, protesters discouraged him (and even distracted him) from getting the shot. The protesters I spoke with seek to protect Zach and his family’s privacy. This is not about focusing on one teen, but on a system of injustice that seeks to target and recruit all queer teens.

Absent for the most part were people of color.

I see a racial divide when it comes to the “ex-gay” movement. From my experience the majority of people who run these programs and attend them are white males.

Why? Several reasons, some of which I don’t fully understand, but when we look at the depth of hate and resistance towards same-gender loving people, we need to consider what fuels the negativity.

A few anti-queer verses in the Bible and the “ick” factor are not enough to sustain the extreme level of homophobia in the world. Other factors must feed the violence. I wonder what other folks think is behind it all.
Please leave your comments.

This post has 10 Comments

  1. Willie Hewes on June 28, 2005 at 7:54 am

    Haha! Love the T-shirt.

    It’s an interesting point you raise. I’m really not sure. I think there may be a fear of rape / losing control / hunters being hunted type thing going on.

    Low to medium levels of homophobia are often expressed as “I’m fine with it as long as they don’t come on to me,” or similar terms.

  2. Contemplative Activist on June 28, 2005 at 11:38 am

    Its good to hear about the protestors’ integrity. Its important that Zach doesn’t become some kind of poster boy for this issue.

    I don’t understand homophobia either. I suspect there is a fear of the unknown, the breaking of all the taboos we have been brought up with. I know for me, I was somewhat curious when I met a gay person for the first time at uni because I barely imagined such strange exotic creatures existed – much less, living next door and going to lectures with me!!!(They were talked about in church yes, terrible sinners, – but the concept was an alien to me as a foreign religion!)

    But that was my whole university experience for the first year – suddenly realising that the rest of the world aren’t Ulster protestants :D. (I’m sure there are gay Ulster protestants, but they tend to stay in their closets for obvious reasons!)

    I suspect people are scared by something they find alien, imagining that gay people are somehow another kind of species. What most people need to see are gay people being themselves so as to realise that they are people too.

  3. Agius on June 28, 2005 at 1:11 pm

    Perhaps it’s just the continuation of strong-father modeled behavior? The only way to show their own worth is to oppress others, and we’re the latest, greatest threat to God and Authority?

    I also think it’s easier to persecute gay people because we CAN go back in the closet and pretend to be something else; something women and racial minorities have a much harder time with. That’s why exgay programs exist, and why they are such an important part of the fundamentalist antigay movement.

    Congrats on attending the protest; wish I could’ve been there.

  4. abbyladybug on June 28, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    In my experience, being gay is actually often MORE OK among white people. I think it may be more underground in black families… or maybe there is enough of the maternalism (and lack of paternalism) in black families that there is more understanding… but I could be totally wrong. Just thinking out loud.

    I do know that the black vote used to be the mainstay of the Democratic party. This last election was a real change in that, and on Memphis black radio, what I was hearing was that it was the issue of gay marriage that made the difference.

    “The protesters I spoke with seek to protect Zach and his family’s privacy.”

    This really impressed me. I’m proud of everyone for that. I so wish I couild have gone, but working with victimes of domestic violence is really important, too, so I kept my usual appointments.

  5. Mark on June 28, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    I read an article in the Village Voice a couple of years ago that touched a little bit on this issue — not about people of colour but about the “gay predator” idea.

    I blogged about it here.

  6. Peterson Toscano on June 28, 2005 at 8:26 pm

    These are amazing responses! They begin to reveal the complexity of the issue.

    Others can speak to this better than I do, but actually I have found that in the black community, many LGBT people exist openly or nearly so, particularly in church.

    Wendi Thomas of the Commercial Appeal said over lunch (and it is not the first time I heard the same statement), that if all the gay people left, the black church, the tenor section would be wiped out.

    I think the black community has been called on to support gay marriage, another right and privilege for the gay (white) community and may be reacting to that in part.

    I welcome the thoughts of wiser and sharper minds on this.

  7. Regan on June 28, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Peterson!!!
    I’m Regan…I run off at the mouth at XGW often.
    I am a black woman, of native american and Irish protestant family and I can clear up some things for you on the racial divide.
    That racial divide is evident when it comes to protests at abortion clinics too.
    Well anyway-the religious right is lobbying black clergy and churchgoers to align against marriage equality.
    They are using the perceived insult at civil rights historical comparisons to do it.
    But there ARE legitimate comparisons to be made.
    Gunnar Myrdal did a comprehensive study in 1941 on the implentation and persistance of Jim Crow laws.
    It was always about sexuality. Color was a means to achieve segregation.
    Intense paranoia of black male sexuality indicted the most casual of social contact. Even EYE contact could get a black man lynched. Whites had an unhealthy preoccupation with black male sexuality, and black female sexual exploitation.
    The Southern white woman’s virtue to be protected by any means necessary.
    It does translate seamlessly into the same paranoia of gay sexuality.
    Blacks were concerned with equal work and educational and housing opportunities…and so are gay people.
    That paranoia to the exclusion of other things of merit…has the same ring of historical context as well.
    I am working on a theatrical piece that completely illustrates all this and it’s already endorsed by the survivors involved and the ADL, the SPLC and other anti hate advocacies.
    Please contact me:
    I would love to see your show if you’re ever in Los Angeles.
    I am a member (the only straight one so far) of the GLAAD theater committee and would put your show on the list for other jury members to see.

    In religious communities like Muslims and Orthodox Jews…they do not advertise any programs in search of gay people to change. These tend to be situations of one on one counseling from their clergy….or very privately maintained groups.
    But they don’t have commercial enterprises that espouse anti homosexual programming.
    Which aren’t cheap.
    It might also be a matter of financial limitations that keep blacks from having a high profile in ex gay programs.
    I just scolded a man who said he was ex gay who called us intolerant of his ‘choice’.
    I told him he wasn’t ex gay, so much as an artificial hetero.
    My entire comment is on Wayne Besen’s blog, on the LIA camp.
    I’m glad you were there at the protest and made your observations.
    Please, you can contact me anytime.
    I would love to talk to you.
    I’ve been stonewalled in my research on these programs.
    Living Waters refuses to talk to me, precisely because I”m not a messed up gay person or someone they could convince was messed up because I was gay.

  8. Peterson Toscano on June 28, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    Regan, thanks for weighing in. Wow, ask and ye shall receive. I’m not only impressed with the clarity and depth of what you say but also with the logical way you present it. Yes, we must connect!

  9. Peterson Toscano on June 28, 2005 at 10:51 pm

    Um, Regan, I don’t know how to reach you. You (and anyone else of course) can e-mail me at

  10. Angel on June 30, 2005 at 9:16 pm

    That “father with the bisexual teen daughter” was my husband. I made the shirt for him.

    (I, alas, had to work)

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