Monday, February 21, 2005

Yes, "Jeff Gannon's" sexuality IS important

"Gannon" was actively working to further the right wing agenda to drive queers back into the closets as part of their goal to "bring back" a fictionalized version of life in the US in the '50s.

Let me provide some background for the heterosexuals and young queers who may be reading this but are not sure what the '50s and '60s were like for those of us who weren't born heterosexual.

I was 23 years old, and had recently returned from duty in Vietnam in 1969, the year in which the Stonewall riots occured, a event regarded as one of the beginning events of the modern movement for equal civil rights for gays, lesbians and transgendered citizens. Make no mistake though. Although the riots were the spark of the movement, it took quite a few more years for that spark to grow.

In 23 years I had never met another person that I knew to be gay. In 23 years I had never heard nor read one positive word about homosexuality. When I came out a year or two later I discovered that I was part of a world in which the large majority of
gay men didn't even tell each other thier real names, not even friends who had known each other for years.

It was a time in which, in city after city, the police looked on gay bars as a source of extra cash to take home to their families. Bar owners were blackmailed to make pay-offs to the police, and if the bar owners didn't fork over, the police would "raid" the offending bar, arrest all the patrons on vice charges - just being gay was considered illegal in those days - and then the cops would phone the employers and
families of those arrested and "out" them. Suicide often followed, job and family loss almost always did. Cops didn't care about a few dead fags as long as the payoffs kept coming in.

I can explain very simply what being gay was like in the late '60s. It would be like announcing today that you are a child molester who prefers 8 to 10 year olds. Seriously.

In the '60s gay men were still being dragged off (or sometimes, sadly, even volunteering) to mental hospitals where they were subjected to "aversion therapy" which consisted of having electrodes attached to one's penis while being shown slides of X rated gay action. Any reaction from the wired body part would result in an electrical shock in an attempt at negative conditioning. Didn't turn anyone from queer to straight, but it sure did screw over a lot of lives. Some of these people
were even subjected to full blown electroshock treatment and even lobotomies. That didn't work either, of course. Some today are pushing for the return of those tortures.

Only a few years before I came out, after the unsolved murder of a young boy, all the suspected faggots in the area were rounded up and dumped into the nearest mental hospital by the police who were under intense pressure to solve the crime.

Suicide among gays was rampant during those years. I worked at America's first
gay positive mental health counseling service
. I can't count the number of folks who called the crisis line after attempting to kill themselves. Thankfully we were able to get medical help to most of those who managed to call, but the experience made a deep impression on me.

Then during the intervening years things started to improve. Through court cases, and most importantly through the increasing numbers of us who were willing to be "out", America was forced to face the reality that a substantial number of her sons and daughters were queer and deserved an equal place in society.

But along came Karl Rove and the plan to make gays and lesbians the scapegoats for all that was wrong with America. The failure of the institution of marriage? - gays. The failure of our school system? - gays. The failure of John Kerry to be
elected? - gays. And just today, the failure of Social Security? - gays. Take it from an old homosexual who has been at the struggle for equal civil rights for a long time, things are looking much worse in 2005 than they were in 1971 for queer folk.

And as far as "Jeff Gannon" or whatever his name is, he has spent a lot of time and energy aiding and abetting those who want to make me a second class citizen or worse based on my sexuality. For him to do that during his work hours while providing stud service to men during his off time is not hypocrisy - it can only be described as collaboration with the enemy. (And for those who think that
he might really be a heterosexual because of his stated preference to
be a "top", pah-leeze, Louise. Think of the biology involved. A "true" heterosexual would be much more likely to opt for the bottom position where his enthusiasim, or lack thereof, wouldn't interfere with the actions required by his role.)

As the right wing trains its crosshairs on us, attempting to demonize us simply because we are gay, willing to use our sexuality as weapons against us, they should realize that we will not stand by and be silently herded off to the cattle cars. Our community has been there and done that. Never again.


Blogger Pam said...

This was such a great post Paul (saw it on DKos first). It really got to the heart of the reason why JG/JG's sexuality plays a role in all of this. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post such a good essay.

7:36 PM  

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