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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.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

“By killing yourself, intentionally or through unsafe sex, you call yourself worthless and expendable. How can you think of a human being that way? Quit punishing yourself for the bigotry in society. Refuse to help the cause of homophobia. Take care of yourself. Learn to love yourself and protect yourself. See yourself and your partner as worth protecting. Treat safer sex as an act of defiance and gay pride, a statement about your love for yourself, a statement about the value of your life. Treat living each day as a tear in the fabric of bigotry.”

From “Not Worth Dying Over,” an essay in my book Holding Me Together. Copyright 1999 Duane Simolke. Paul Harris quotes that passage in his book From Our Own Lips: The Book of GLBT Quotations. (GLBT stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.)

Dann Hazel used “Reactions to Homophobia,” another of my works from Holding Me Together, as a resource for his book Witness: Gay and Lesbian Clergy Report from the Front.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Ex-Gay

Book review: Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth by Wayne R. Besen

Despite years of hearing, reading, and writing about this topic, I can’t think of a better ex-gay resource than Wayne R. Besen’s book Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. Besen not only gives an accessible and easy-to-follow history of the sham’s path of destruction but also makes it clear why so many gays and nongays choose to believe its obvious lies. He also exposes the many people who profit monetarily, politically, or even sexually from ensnaring more ex-gay followers.

Still, Besen also shows how most of the people who become involved with or lead these ministries probably mean well. More importantly, he shows how gays and their allies can expose these hurtful groups, which rely heavily on wild semantics, shaky statistics, pseudo psychology, and highly questionable science, all the while trying to appear Bible-based.

Besen also shows how gays can make their communities less vulnerable to ex-gay groups, while warning those communities about insidious new tactics that the increasingly media-savvy ex-gay leaders use to lure parents into forcing children to join the ex-gay circus. For groups that keep claiming that all of their members come there voluntarily, they certainly keep taking advantage of parental pressuring and other fears of rejection!

Best of all, Besen offers resources and alternatives for people who might want to join these groups. He even defends, to my satisfaction, his undercover efforts to capture all of the information that appears in this sometimes shocking but always fascinating volume. I suggest Besen’s study for all gays, all of their allies, and anyone who thinks the ex-gay movement needs support or more recruits.

I wrote about the ex-gay movement and various other gay-related topics extensively in works that appear in my collection Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems. I use a fictional character to explore ex-gay issues in “Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter,” a story that appears in my book The Acorn Stories; that character reappears in “Fat Diary,” a more light-hearted story I wrote for an anthology, The Acorn Gathering.

I also suggest Ronald L. Donaghe’s scathing fictional treatment of the ex-gay movement, The Salvation Mongers, as well as the disturbing documentary One Nation Under God and—for some needed levity on the topic—the silly yet likable comedy But I’m A Cheerleader.