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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Hatred in West Texas.



I posted the following in Rainbow: Lubbock, the online newsletter I created for the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community in Lubbock, Texas. Visit DuaneSimolke.Com to find Rainbow: Lubbock and a variety of other resources, as well as information about my writing.


Monday, January 12, 7 AM. I hesitate about listing an anti-gay event here, especially since the organizer of the event constantly manipulates gays into giving him free publicity. And no, I won’t give a link to his website, driving more traffic there. Instead of depressing yourself by reading his site, please empower yourself with some of the resources at DuaneSimolke.Com.


However, I wanted to urge my readers to exercise restraint and wisdom at the arrival of Fred Phelps and his followers to Lubbock. They plan to protest the Buddy Holly Center's display of Elton John's eyeglasses, as well as the efforts of Lubbock’s Gay/Straight Alliance, GAP Youth. They also might target Texas Tech University and various gay-friendly churches. If gays and their allies arrive at the protests screaming and ranting at Phelps, he and much of Lubbock’s media will only succeed in making gays look like aggressors, lunatics, and threats to free speech.


Phelps is, of course, famous for picketing the funerals of gay-equality advocates and of people who died of AIDS-related complications, as well as for creating a monument that celebrates Matthew Sheperd’s supposed passage into Hell.

Some gay activists in other communities have responded to these protests in positive ways, such as telethons in which participants donate a set amount of money to gay causes for each protester Phelps brings. Some Lubbockites plan to make donations to SPARC (South Plains AIDS Resource Center) in Phelps’s name.
Other positive responses could include an informational meeting about gays or a prayer vigil; local media might cover such events, in relation to the Phelps protests.


Screaming and ranting at someone who lives to scream and rant will accomplish nothing. Letting him spew out his venom will push sensible people away from his anti-gay views, once they get a good listen.


Please also read about the PBS-sponsored programs Not in Our Town.