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Pride only takes you so far

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
May 19, 2005


In world not far from the Twilight Zone, North America, the United States in particular, is seeming a lot less free to people the don't happen to be a heterosexual Christian. As if in a waking nightmare, life has become more surreal than watching Michael Jackson kiss Lisa Marie Presley on the lips.

Cultural diversity is a good thing .As a gay man I have experienced the end of the free love era, the global revolution of gay pride, and the assimilation and suburbanization of the gay middle class. From the back rooms to the boardrooms the gay community is no longer the love that dare not speak its name. Having reached the point of openly advocating domestic partnerships and federally recognized rights to marriage, the gay community can easily justify a desire to dance in the street.

We've come along way baby.

Barney Frank, Jim Kolbe, and Tammy Baldwin are openly gay members of congress. This is progress. There are a few closeted congressional representatives as well. I guess that's progress too. Ellen, Rosie, Chastity, Portia, Melissa, K.D., Rupert, and Elton are all signs of social progress. Being gay or lesbian is no longer the social stigma it use to be. In some circles it's down right fashionable. Television is getting gayer every day.

That said, being gay in George W. Bush's America is not for the squeamish. After years of steady civil progress, from the Stonewall riots of 1969 to the riot of Will and Grace's "Just Jack", our communities are under attack as never before. Of course the current backlash is the result of the progress made by three generations of out and proud gays and lesbians, and the political manipulation of religious bigotry. Queers are in the crosshairs because blatant racism is no longer considered politically correct.

With the growing clout of Christian conservatives, comes the growing threat of violence and government dictated discrimination. The rhetoric being espoused by anti-gay legislators such as a Rich Santorum, James Inhofe, Bill Frist, and Wayne Allard is enough to give one pause. As a community of communities, are we willing to defend the progress we earned from neo-fundamentalist attacks?

Peddling hate domestically is hardly a way to fight a "War on Terror," shouting down irrational bigotry is. Pride will not protect us from the slings and arrows aimed at the freedom our community represents. Make no mistake, queer culture is under threat. Not only do we need to be out loud and proud, at times we will need to be calm, cold, and cunning. We also should be ready to emigrate when the time comes.

As a tree-hugger, I find myself swallowing a lot of anger at the faith-based intolerance being advocated by the religious right and the ethically wrong. If there is a god, I'm sure she doesn't hate fags any more than self-righteous bible thumpers and Sith lords named Karl. Yet that won't stop the persecution of gays and lesbians in defense of family values and the American way. How should we respond?

Outing gay politicians or politicos who are working to undermine the constitutional rights of the GLBT community, is fair game in this growing culture war. Hypocrisy is an ample target. Jim "On Hiatus" West, the sleazy Mayor of Spokane is a perfect example of how ant-gay rhetoric is as much as a beard as Katie Holmes. Jeff "Gucky Guckert" Gannon is another example of how far some Friends of Judy will go to fit in.

And don't even get me started on California congressman David Drier.

This pride season I say throw open every window.This is not the time for playing it safe, and just trying to get alone. The religious right does want to get along.They're in charge, so we need to play by their rules. Tolerance is not one of them.So in this season of pride, dress up, let loose, out your enemies, and always remember in George Bush's America we are enemy combatants.

Parade anyone?

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