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Media Rejects Fake Gay Hero - Pro-Homosexuality UM's Cry American Unity Equals Terrorism Against Homosexuals


Reconciling Kansas has published a new edition of its online
It is full of information and thoughtful commentary. Following are
selected articles and excerpts from the current issue Accompanying
photos and graphics are on the web site.


"You'll always be two standard deviations from the norm," my friend Conrad once told me. It's not surprising, then, that I'm reacting to media coverage surrounding the events of September 11 differently than most people.

I notice, for example, how media use of September 11 perpetuates the illusion that only heterosexuals were hurt -- physically or emotionally. I say this because e-mail from gay friends in Manhattan and New Jersey assures me: gays are part of the story. Media editing, however, has linked every eulogized person with their familial roles, reinforcing the idea that family is ultimately determined by reproduction. The pathos of sorrow is not portrayed as something human, global and timeless, but as something exclusively American, familial and implicitly straight. With the World Trade Center so near to Greenwich Village and Chelsea, media have rendered gays and lesbians curiously invisible and silent in recent days. To the millions of Americans sitting on the couch, glued to the tv, the implied message is that gays and lesbians aren't important in this story, their pain less real. It's as if they don't share the depth of emotional experience common to Americans or humanity. It's as if they aren't part of history. In the quest for "America United," gays are closeted as exquisitely now as before Stonewall.

The spectre of war and an Enemy Other has instantaneously protected America's injustices to gays, blacks, Native Americans, Muslims, women, children, the poor. Any prophetic condemnation or sacred call to justice can now be deftly dismissed as downright unpatriotic, dividing an allegedly unified country by pointing out the very things that, if corrected, might give us credibility when imploring other nations to observe human rights.

With few healing exceptions, the media response to September 11 has been an uncritical celebration of nationalism gearing-up for war, not only against The Enemy but tacitly against gays. You won't see gays lined up at the Red Cross to donate blood because irrational Red Cross policies ban gay men from donating blood. If a picture's worth a thousand words, location shots at the Red Cross tell America that the real patriots who roll-up their sleeves to help look exactly like straight America. It's a false image created by exclusionary policies. Fund drives invariably engage United Way, which perennially supports anti-gay agencies like Boy Scouts, Big Brothers and the Salvation Army -- the latter recently embarrassed by exposure that it tried to hammer-out a secret deal with President Bush permitting employment discrimination against gays. The anti-gay stance of the US military completes the dismal picture.

On September 11, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called hijacker actions the Great Evil of our time. Apparently he's decided it's more evil to kill people all at once than by dehumanizing them throughout every moment of their life. And in a world of scarcity where we can apparently fight only one evil, the moment-to-moment murder that leads people to desperation and suicide apparently doesn't matter. Blair's quintessentially British demeanor, eloquence and speech make the logic of constant evil seem irresistibly beautiful.

For centuries, gays and lesbians have lived their lives with the constant awareness that straight culture hates them and passively permits violent attack at any moment. The Church, like Caiaphas, has blood on its hands. Hatred of gays is terrorism, but unlike the massive response at Ground Zero, and the ribbons, flags and fund-raisers elsewhere, America combats terrorism very selectively.

College Hill United Methodist Church is a leader. It has an annual potluck dinner with Wichita's Muslim Community Center. Summer planners for this year's dinner picked September 14. The events of September 11 gave extra significance to the dinner. Some 200 people packed the Center last Friday, picking food from a wonderfully diverse buffet, the people from CHUM watching their Muslim friends offer sunset prayers, then listening to people speak into the cordless mike passed around the room. Ramzieh Azmeh, who spoke about Islam last year to Viceroy, was noticeably moved by the warmth and love she felt from the people gathering that night. When words wouldn't come, she patted her heart. I was happy for her. Silently, I regretted that the attacks on Matthew Shepard, Billy Jack Gaither and a gay man in Wichita's Herman Hill Park didn't move America to rally round its gay neighbors who are the constant target of terror. I cannot imagine a law against Muslims, but Kansas' sodomy law remains unchallenged. Even the state's most liberal legislators in Topeka regard that issue as political suicide.

We cling tenaciously to our Enemies and scapegoats. Without them, we'd have to face ourselves, how we treat our own, how we treat each of our global neighbors. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson predictably blamed the attack on America's toleration of gays and others. It would have undoubtedly meant little to them that Mark Bingham, a passenger on United Flight 93 who presumably thwarted the hijackers' plans to reach its DC target, was gay. Until their eschatology sorts the saved on the right and damned on the left, they have only an ideology of panic, peering myopically at their bucolic vision of 20th-century America. They want nothing more than to go back to America before Kennedy's assassination and Pleasantville. I doubt they're much different from the millions of people who, faced with a complex global culture, want only to "return to normal."

I, however, prefer to question that "normalcy." I question how it hurts different people differently within and beyond America's borders. I want to ask questions about how we use the rhetoric of patriotism, freedom and liberty to avoid thinking about our institutional injustices ... about the pain we inflict as the world's best capitalists and militarists. I want to learn the theoretical nuances of distributive, retributive and reparative justice so that I don't get seduced when people use "justice" as a synonym for revenge. I want to proceed slowly, deliberately and thoughtfully so that my American-bred impatience doesn't trick me into becoming the evils I abhor. I want to avoid splitting-off my bad pieces and projecting them onto some Evil Enemy Other. I want to swim though this and come out on the other side, purified, integrated and part of a stronger community. I do not want to get even.

I am two standard deviations from the norm.

[Several links are at
http://community-2.webtv.net/reconcilingkans/RK/ ]

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