Some of you may be aware of an incident that occured the other day at Seattle Pride, where a street preacher was attacked by an attendee. While I would never condone resorting to physical violence to solve a problem… Is anyone really surprised that something like this happened? Wasn’t it inevitable?
Just think for a moment of all the abuse LGBT people put up with, day-in and day-out. I’ve been to Prides, I’ve lived in the gay ghetto, dealing with the haters has been a commonplace in my life. Sadly, it’s a commonplace in all our lives. Whatever we do, wherever we are, there’s always someone who wants to judge.
And look what we have to face. Every day. We’re going to get AIDS and die; our relationships are on a par with bestiality; God hates us and we’re going to hell. Would you like to be told that, every day, wherever you go, simply because of how you were born?
Really, when you think about it, it’s startling that the attack in Seattle made the news at all. Were the sort of signs I’ve shown in the post routinely displayed against any other group – women, say; or people from particular ethnic, racial or even socio-economic backgrounds, there would be uproar. There would be riots in the streets.
We’re going to hell; we’re terrorists; we choose to be gay (hah! – faced with this kind of ‘support’, who would do that??); we kill children. Dunno how but it makes a great soundbite, doesn’t it?
Yet the rabid Right began pearl-clutching the instant the video of the Seattle incident surfaced. Here’s some of the headlines:
Want to know the funny bit? The guy who assaulted the preacher wasn’t even gay. Nope, he was a happily (one assumes) married father, and certainly not a lesbian. But since when did the truth ever get in the way of a good story? Check out the video of what happened if you don’t want to take my word for who threw the punches. Even Gregory T. Angelo, head of the Log Cabin Republicans, got in on the act. (BTW, it is an endless source of amusement to me that I have more followers than him on Twitter.)
One member of a 120,000 strong crowd gets a bit drunk and disorderly and the right-wing media goes into meltdown. Shame they can’t report the vicious attacks of gay men in New York – culminating in a murder earlier this year – with the same sense of outrage. Shame they can’t wring their hands over the hundreds of thousands of gay men and women verbally and physically assaulted, raped and murdered every single year. Shame they don’t lose sleep at night over the people who kill themselves because they cannot take this kind of bullying anymore. Because they cannot face being who they are in a world that seems to hate them simply for existing. Shame they endorse an attitude that keeps people in abject despair. Have a look at the wiki history of violence against LGBT people some time – not in the back of fundamentalist beyond, but in the US. An allegedly enlightened nation. They’re just the big stories that make the news. Many thousands more are completely overlooked, even in death.
Hate begets hate. When you care so much about something that – here’s the funny part – doesn’t even affect you, it’s time to start looking in the mirror. If you go out into the street and spew this bile, expect that, every once in a while, your particular brand of nuttiness and aggression is going to attract another, more extreme kind. Who knows if Seattle Guy was even an ally? My money says there was a party, there was cheap beer, he didn’t care who was hosting it. But once he was tanked up and spoiling for a fight, he went looking for confrontation and he found it in the form of people who had showed up simply to be confrontational.
Yes, in the west we value free speech. In America it’s enshrined in the First Amendment. But there is a world of difference between free speech and hate speech. By all means voice your opinion, however wrong and/or misguided it may be. But when you start verbally attacking people – advocating violence against them – then you’ve crossed a line. Here in the UK we understand that and have strict laws against hate speech. They might not be perfect – there are many people preaching in this country that would be better being shipped back from whence they came – but it speaks volumes that in the last week we have charged one US pastor with inciting violence on our streets and refused a blogger entry for the same reason.
I hate when stories like these circulate because I know our detractors will use them against us to argue that really we’re an aggressive, violent lot who are practically foaming at the mouths wanting to tear the poor, misunderstood protesters apart. These people pick and choose their own morality. They hide behind their right to ‘free speech’ to endorse the suppression of, criminalisation, and violence towards LGBT folk. They rejoice in the idea of us suffering eternal torment in a pit of fire. They encourage their children and followers to think of us as less than human. Then they want to wash their bloody hands clean when bad things happen to us. When people are belittled, bullied, maligned and murdered.
The Bible says many things (and note most of the signs above come from the loving Christian community), most of which you won’t see on a sign, including: God made man in his own image; Love thy neighbour as thyself; Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; Judge not lest ye be judged, and – oh yeah – An eye for an eye. Suck it up, bitches.