Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is Larry Kramer wrong?

Is Larry Kramer wrong? Read below and decide. PeteM.

"Gays are hated. Prove me wrong"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 / 10:27 AM
SUMMARY: Activist/author Larry Kramer, on the occasion of ACT UP's 20th birthday, asks Americans how they can stay silent about anti-gay discrimination.

Gay activist and author Larry Kramer's emotional open letter to the American public, published in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times, posed a challenge: "Gays are hated. Prove me wrong."

Kramer spoke last week at New York's Gay & Lesbian Center, celebrating the 20th anniversary of ACT UP, a grass-roots AIDS organization, and protesting the U.S. military's adherence to "don't ask, don't tell."

In a follow-up letter, Kramer asked Americans how they can stay silent on gay issues.

"Your top general just called us 'immoral.' Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq."

"A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a 'faggot.' Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column."

"This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know -- that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us."

". . . You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you."

The letter was originally titled "A Letter to America's Heterosexuals" and retitled by the L.A. Times "Why do straights hate gays? An aging 72-year-old man isn't hopeful about the future."

Blogger Andy Towle criticized the headline as an insult to Kramer's 30-year contribution to the gay community.

"Whether or not you agree with Kramer's approach, you would think that the paper could find a bit more respect in its description of the longtime activist," Towle wrote.

"After all, his work with ACT UP was a major force in getting the AIDS epidemic the attention it deserved at crucial moments throughout the crisis."

Kramer has been a gay rights and HIV/AIDS advocate since the early 1970s.

His 1978 novel, "Faggots," is one of the best-selling gay novels of all time, but was criticized upon its publication by other gay activists for its graphic depiction of anonymous sex and recreational drug use.

Kramer lived in London for nine years between 1961 and 1970, where he co-produced and co-wrote the film "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush."

Recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Award in Literature, Kramer has also been honored with a Public Service Award from the U.S. political lobby group Common Cause. (Hassan Mirza, Gay.com U.K.)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peter,

I fought the tolerance fight with a couple of denominations and a couple of congregations. Allow the glbt folks to be 100% people just like the straight people.

I came to the conclusion that this was a total waste of my time because I was arguing with people who had a world view based on first century concepts.

I have since used what few skills I have to bring understanding to faith communities about what their religious writings really say and probably really meant to the original audience. That also meets with some resistance.

I have essentially given up on the organized church. I read with some interest but a good deal more humor what the Episcopalians are struggling with. Why do faith communities allow the most conservative of their members, who are most often the least informed, to dictate how the rest of the community behave and what they will believe?

I have no answer. But await the wisdom of those who do.

Mike Short

Pete M said...

Mike, thanks for your comment. Yes glbt people can be just as dim-witted as straights, but that’s why non-realism is so important. The message has to get out over and over again: We humans, glbt and straight, are the ones who make this stuff up. God isn’t sitting above the sky pushing the Bible writers’ pens around. It’s not rocket science, but dearly held convictions die hard. That’s probably because once non-realism sinks in, then God isn’t holding our hand like a four year old anymore, and people feel scared about being alone, on their own, being adult. So, get over it!
Now none of this bears on the question of whether “God” exists. Cupitt has gone to the position that “God” is a crutch better thrown away (See the March 2007 “Sofia” [http://www.sofn.org.uk/]), but I still think that as a marker for meaning “God” is very useful. As we worship, God appears. God, at that moment, is as real as our feelings.
Interestingly enough, before he was Archbishop, Williams wasn’t all that conservative; now that he’s assumed the mantle, he wants to be all things to all people. It’s hard to hear the Gospel from him.
Thanks again.

Franklyn Springfield said...

Of course Kramer is right, But on the other hand most people hate a variety of things: cabbage, other people, modern music, Catholics, etc. Who cares! Let them hate...just change the laws.

However, there is one group who are so truly evil and distructive that something should be done about them. That is the institutional church. This bunch are not merely hateful, they are hypocritical, claiming to love while really hating. The most recent example of this is the behavior of the Anglican Community and its leader knuckling under in the interests of keeping market share. If this is Christianity, spare me.

Anonymous said...

Franklyn,
Thanks for your comment. You write, “...something should be done about them,” meaning the anti-gay churches. But what should be done? The only thing I can think of that’s not illegal is to talk back to evil and destructive church hate. Call those haters on their hate. Don’t sit silent, don’t say, “Somebody else will speak out,” don’t expect change unless you’re willing to help make change happen.
And change can happen. Look what happened when the prostitute called the rightwing minister in Colorado Springs on his anti-gay ranting. The minister shut up, got fired, and his church is now less hateful. For a while... The hate will probably come back, but one prostitute a party doesn’t make. Keep talking; keep calling the haters on their hate.
PeteM

Alex said...

Pete,

I don't know if the Colorado Springs example is a great example of talking and calling haters on their hate. To me, it seems more like an example of outing a vicious hypocrite and more or less dropping a bomb on that church.

The real question, in my mind, is why do conservative, judgemental church organizations see so much growth while the liberal or even postmodern churches are shrivelling up?

Alex