Features

How homosexuals fight

National | Activists co-opt language of the civil-rights movement and seek to "use talk to muddy the moral waters"

Issue: "Kosovo: What's next?," April 10, 1999

At the San Diego offices of Update, a newspaper serving Southern California homosexuals, a royal blue bumper sticker clinging to the lobby wall is both confessional and prophetic: "Having abandoned the search for truth, I'm now looking for a good fantasy."

While the homosexual ethos depends on an abandonment of truth, the search for a good gay fantasy may not last much longer. After a week of demonstrations late last month, the fantasy nation long yearned for by American homosexuals may now be breaching the borders of reality.

With more than 300 pro-homosexual bills romping through state legislatures coast to coast, the potentially precedent-setting judicial assault on traditional marriage in Vermont, the growing fallacy-fueled drive for gay "civil rights," and the tactical defamation of religious opposition, the homosexual offensive is poised to make a forward leap so large it may alter American culture radically-perhaps irrevocably.

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"In the culture war ... we are at a crossroads," said Focus on the Family president James Dobson in a March 23 broadcast that examined the forward rumble of America's gay political juggernaut: "We are at a strategic moment in the history of this country."

It is a moment not lost on homosexual activists. "We're on the verge of people understanding us," said Randy Allgaier, coordinator of a California homosexual lobby group: "More than tolerating us-potentially accepting us."

Other gays, while not as effusive, are also optimistic. "There are promising indicators that more and more of the population is sympathetic [toward homosexuals]," said Ryan Hurd, the clean-cut, twenty-something associate editor of Update.

The dim, bohemian office he shares with editor-in-chief Frederic Ball is revealing. The walls are decorated with bodies instead of, say, art. Mr. Ball's side of the room features a four-foot frontal nude poster of an unnamed platinum blond starlet. On Mr. Hurd's side, a black-and-white, 8-by-10 photo series marches across the wall: men, alone and in groups, absurdly muscular, nearly naked, and provocatively entwined. The decor betrays a subculture that, despite its own frantic claims to normality, is actually fixated on the promise of sexual gratification without responsibility.

Still, Mr. Hurd's optimism about the public's view of that subculture is not misplaced. It echoes the findings of a February Gallup poll that showed 50 percent of Americans now feel homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle. Just 34 percent felt that way in 1982. "A lot of what we see is very promising," said Mr. Hurd. He added that homosexual activism will be successful only to the extent that it is not seen as gay-and-lesbian-oriented so much as a fight for civil rights.

His statement is in line with the openly propagandistic tactics preached by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen in the activist primer After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's. A chief strategy: Portray homosexuals as victims, an oppressed minority groaning under the yoke of heterosexist tyranny. But the gay quest for "civil rights" bears little resemblance to the struggles of blacks and suffragists, whose eventual liberation benefited society at large. Instead, it calls up the American communists of the '50s and '60s who, in order to advance the radical interests of a narrow group, created a spurious "victim class," then convinced America that theirs was the side of justice.

Following the October 1998 slaying of Matthew Shepard, the slight, effeminate college student who was brutally murdered by two Laramie thugs, gay activists deftly leveraged the political capital dropped in their laps. They spun the storyline that pro-family ministries had created hate that was bound to generate just such an act. They marshaled thousand-candle vigils for Shepard and quickly canonized him. They stoked a public outrage and organized "Equality Begins at Home (EBAH)," a week-long 50-state campaign "to beat back the right wing and their relentless attacks."

Sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and billed as a populist demand for social justice, more than 250 EBAH events popped off across the nation during the week of March 21. Individual events included marches, rallies, lobby days, and conferences, often at state capitols. Homosexuals and their advocates demonstrated for the right to legally marry, adopt children, and stigmatize as "hate" criminals anyone who would stigmatize them.

Some EBAH events fizzled, like the meager, mostly lesbian klatch that gathered at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., to hear National Organization for Women director Patricia Ireland's predictable rah-rah, we're-with-you rant. But some events were historic: On March 21, at an official state ceremony attended by 250 people, a rainbow flag, the homosexual banner said to symbolize both diversity and unity, was hoisted above the capitol building in Hartford, Conn., where it flew for a week. The event marked the first time the rainbow flag was officially recognized by a state government.

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