"When you say...you [gay Americans] are not a group of people who need special protection. You do well economically. You are an elite. That is precisely the argument that has been made in behalf of the worst kind of discrimination against Jewish people."
- United States Senator Paul Wellstone, July 29, 1994 -
Responding to a religious right spokesman's anti-gay testimony

"The opportunity to be threatened, humiliated and to live in fear of being beaten to death is the only 'special right' our culture bestows on homosexuals."
- Diane Carman, Denver Post

So, I suppose what all this has eventually been leading me to is the idea that when Christians tell me I'm going to Hell, and that I'm depraved/unnatural/fill in the blank, they are being compassionate. They love me so much, that they just have to do this.


Let's examine a Chick tract with the self-proclaimed mission of providing a "compassionate plea to repent of homosexuality." Here's the link: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0273/0273_01.asp

Now, I know perfectly well that not all Christians believe this; two of them are in my bedroom right now doing Arabic language drills and a physics problem set. But this still deserves a second look, and I need some better answers than I'm getting. So here we go.

Panel 1: Wow, that's really evil of those people, to say "Hate is not a family value." I guess, if you teach "hate the sin, love the sinner," you do have to teach hate. From personal experience, all I can say is this is not a distinction I have great confidence in.

As Tony Kushner says, " A lot of people worry these days about the death of civil discourse. The Pope, in his new encyclical, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), laments the death of civil discourse and cites "ancient philosophers who proposed friendship as one of the most appropriate contexts for sound philosophical inquiry." It's more than faintly ludicrous, this plea for friendship coming from the selfsame Pope who has tried so relentlessly to stamp out dissent in churches and Catholic universities, but let's follow the lead of the crazies who killed Matthew Shepard and take the Pope at his word.

Friendship is the proper context for discussion. Fine and good. Take the gun away from my head, Your Holiness, and we can discuss the merits of homosexual sex, of homosexual marriage, of homosexual love, of monogamy versus promiscuity, of lesbian or gay couples raising kids, of condom distribution in the schools, of confidential counseling for teenagers, of sex education that addresses more than abstinence. We can discuss abortion, we can discuss anything you like. Just promise me two things, friend:

First, you won't beat my brains out with a pistol butt and leave me to die by the side of the road. Second, if someone else, someone a little less sane than you, feeling entitled to commit these terrible things against me because they understood you a little too literally, or were more willing than you to take your distaste for me and what I do to its most full-blooded conclusion, if someone else does violence against me, friend, won't you please make it your business to make a big public fuss about how badly I was treated? Won't you please make a point, friend, you who call yourself, and who are called, by millions of people, the Vicar on Earth of the very gentle Jesus, won't you please in the name of friendship announce that no one who deliberately inflicts suffering, whether by violence or by prejudice, on another human being, can be said to be acting in God's name? And announce it so that it is very clear that you include homosexuals when you refer to "human beings," and announce it so that the world hears you, really hears you, so that your announcement makes the news, as you are capable of doing when it suits your purposes? Won't you make this your purpose too? And if you won't, if you won't take responsibility for the consequences of your militant promotion of discrimination, won't you excuse me if I think you are not a friend at all but rather a homicidal liar whose claim to spiritual and moral leadership is fatally compromised, is worth othing more than...well, worth nothing more than the disgusting, opportunistic leadership of Trent Lott." (http://www.ets.uidaho.edu/diversity/tkon.htm)

As for the statistics, well, 12% is a rather high estimate; 1-2% seems awfully low. The truth is, since there's no way to "prove" who is homosexual (especially since we can't seem to agree on a definition), most studies simply aren't all that conclusive. Of course, one might ask why it matters, the pure numbers. But the supposed citation from this number -- well, I'll discuss Jeremiah Films in the next panel. Because that's where the hate really pours on.

Panel 2: Wow. I'm almost speechless. But not quite.

That is a hate-filled lie. I searched three different search engines and several college indexes, and I could not find a single confirmation of this event that is cited. I could not find a single militant site arguing that HIV-positive homosexuals should donate blood in a concentrated attempt to taint the national blood supply, or an article reporting such things being said at a rally, and I find it impossible to believe that this would not have been documented.

And more than almost all the other things in this "discussion," that made me want to cry. That anyone could hate so much they would be willing to lie like that, and say something so clearly designed to incite hatred and violence.

To try to move back into the realm of facts: currently, a man cannot give blood if he has had sexual contact with another man since 1977. Obviously, this is reliant on self-reporting, as are all the other questions asked when one gives blood. And some people have urged reversal of this ban, as it is too broad to be generally practical, in their opinions. Here's one article: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/bloodbanksPM000914.html
They also argue that it is a question of politics, not based in science, to promote this ban and that it perpetuates false stereotypes. I don't feel like I have enough numbers to argue either way; I have given blood and will continue as long as I am still eligible to do so. Yeah, it's kind of irritating to think that I could be in a relationship with someone and have the blood tests to prove he's clean, while my neighbor could hook up with a different girl every night of the week and he could give blood while I couldn't, but it's not a battle I have that much energy for. Don't come crying to me when there's a blood shortage, then.

It seems worth noting that a heterosexual who has had sex with someone known to be HIV-positive can donate blood a year later, while any man who has had intercourse with another man since 1977 cannot. The NIH has recommended the ban be lifted.

And of course, money for AIDS is hardly a gay-specific cause. Face it: AIDS is no longer just a plague conveniently sent down to exterminate gay men. Or if it is, your God does really sloppy work, because AIDS has been a concern for the entire world for years. The cases in Africa alone are heart-rending, and the rate of infection continues to rise in heterosexual populations, and also among senior citizens (Newsweek did a story about this; it's troubling because it's a population that often has little education about safer sex and all of a sudden, these people find themselves single, start new relationships, and no one thought to do outreach to them).

And I cannot believe that the amount of false information perpetrated by organizations like Jeremiah Films is part of the reason. It took some looking for me to get information on this source Mr. Chick is so fond of. This seems to be from the homepage: http://www.marianland.com/jeremiah002.html

So, I drifted down to the title "Gay Rights, Special Rights."

I'd like an explanation now, please. Basically, I would like legal protection to a) not be murdered, beaten or verbally harassed and b) to be able to do the kinds of things heterosexuals take for granted, like not be arbitrarily passed over for a job, or possibly to be able to obtain legal protection for myself and someone I might choose to spend my life with, should I find such a person. What's so freakin' special about that? Because I keep hearing that we gays, in promoting our "homosexual agenda" are asking for special rights. Why is it normal for everyone else, but special for me? Can you really say with a straight face that it's unreasonable for me not to want some guy in a WWJD shirt to smash in my kneecap? Or to want him to actually be punished when he did so? Oh, that doesn't really happen, it's all propaganda. Seriously, I wouldn't have made that story up, it's too creepy. WWJD indeed.

" THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA IS A THREAT TO YOU...YOUR FAMILY... YOUR COUNTRY! Homosexuality is only 1% of this nations population, yet our freedom, basic morality, constitutional values, basic welfare and even our CHILDREN are under constant attack by this indulgence oriented group... Homosexuality is targeting our youth by preying on their vulnerability. Homosexuals are redefining the family to include all forms of sexual preference and perversion... Homosexuals have demanded that the 1964 Civil Rights Act be amended to make "sexual preference" a constitutionally protected right! Your church, business and school will be forced to employ homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders, or those who practice pedophilia." (sic to all that)

Well, 1% is a stupid, unsupported estimate. And there's a lot of awfully vague incitement here; note they aren't saying anything specific until the end. We're what with the what now? Now, before I get all teary again, I believe churches have successfully obtained legal permission to avoid hiring homosexuals. Why businesses and schools should have this right, I don't know, unless you want to argue that businesses should have a totally free hand in hiring, and thus be allowed not to hire any member of a minority as they see fit, which is part of why the 1964 Act came about in the first place -- because that argument was used to institutionalize racism.

Oh, apparently this guy does: http://www.christianviewpoint.com/html/homosexuality.html
Seriously, what does he think people are supposed to document? If you think the mere presence of a gay person is disruptive, than maybe you're the one obsessed with sex.

And then -- wow, I can't believe how much this is getting to me tonight, because it isn't like I haven't heard it before. But this is another one of those hateful lies. Pedophilia and homosexuality are not comparable at all! In fact, in my research, homosexuals tend to be much more vigilant than heterosexuals about insisting that sexual activity is best kept between consenting adults. Pedophilia is yet another form of sex as a weapon, just as rape is, and it has NOTHING to do with a consensual relationship. And for that matter, lots of people convicted of same-sex pedophiliac encounters were identified as heterosexual; married men with children, in many cases. This returns to the question of what makes someone homosexual, I suppose. But it is a gross, libelous and hurtful insult to see someone make that comparison with absolutely no back-up or apology. And Mr. Chick himself will do it later, we see.

Yes, of course there are fringe elements in any group. But most of us have nothing to do with them. There are lots of instances of heterosexual child molestation, yet no one assumes it is inherent in heterosexuality that this happens. Nor, for that matter, do they assume that rape is a natural consequence of men and women having sex, or draw comparisons between such incidents and what happens in a consensual, healthy heterosexual relationship. Or what about all the commercials that use adolescent girls to sell their products? I can't think of anything in America that's more fetishized than a Catholic school girl, except maybe a cheerleader. What about all the romantic comedies featuring a barely-legal girl and a man twenty years her senior? Apparently, there's at least one page featuring a clock counting down to the exact moment that the Olsen twins cease to become jailbait. Fine for you, a big joke, but not when it's us?

Wasn't Jesus kind of down on hypocrites?

And why should I take seriously the testimony of a faith whose representatives regularly lie?

The other video of interest is the "educational" video about AIDS put out by this company. Apparently the most notorious segment involves a boy in a sex-ed class asking "What if I want to have sex before I get married?" The teacher replies, "Well, I guess you just have to be prepared to die. And you'll probably take with you your spouse and one or more of your children with you."

God, this is just reprehensible. Now, the "safe/safer" sex debate is mostly semantics; obviously, the only way to guarantee avoidance of all possible complications of pregancy is abstinence. But for some reason, the abstinence only movement, which is deeply affiliated with the religious right, doesn't trust anyone to make their own choices, and so they have started the rumor that any kind of contraception is simply useless, which is just silly. You're a lot safer having sex with a condom, especially one properly put on (which most people don't know how to do), and if pregnancy is a concern, you can also use spermicide, and you can furthermore use another, non-barrier method of contraception (i.e, birth control pills). And yes, it reduces the chance of getting AIDS. Eliminates no, reduces yes. This is worth knowing. Information is power.


More lies. More selective truth-telling. And pure fear tactics.

Oh yeah, I was supposed to be writing about the Chick tract, right?

Panel 3: Oh, sell your martyr complex somewhere else. Like Christians have never taken an angry, hateful approach to their positions. Has everyone forgotten Jerry Falwell's post-9/11 remarks? Or Pat Robertson's "godly fumigation"? Or Randall Terry saying " I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation,"? Or Fred Phelps picketing at Matthew Shepard's funeral, while his family was trying to mourn and say good-bye, and the little girl carrying the sign that said "fags=anal sex" into the memorial service? You don't see the irony here?

Panel 4: Gee, for once a Chick tract gay guy with a semi-decent haircut. What's up with that?

Panel 6: Well,that didn't last. Is that why you guys don't like us -- the only gay people you know are a cross between the Village People and Mr. T?

Panel 10: Dah-dah-dah! Cue scary music! Seriously, is there a reason God wasn't paying attention to Sodom (or the town to be named Sodom at a later date) during all this?

Panel 12: Lot's sleazy.

Panel 13: Okay, this is where I start to wonder about Mr. Chick. This is just so oddly lurid. I found a very funny article about a guy whose first exposure to homosexuality was actually in a Chick tract; ironic, huh? (http://www.postfun.com/pfp/features/98/feb/jtchick.html)
But since Jack Chick likes so many stereotypes, couldn't he at least make us stylish? What is up with that hairstyle? I mean, I'm no high fashion expert (and for the record, I hate shoe-shopping), but that's just bizarre. It looks like a clown wig.

Panel 14: Hmm, how come we don't here more about Lot's distress in the actual, original account? Revisionism, much? More bad hair, and fake swearing, this time around.

Panel 15: Oh, God, here we go again. Note that he doesn't have a Biblical verse to back this up. After all, it's stretching to even find the homosexuality idea, but it doesn't say anything about pedophilia. Creative license, huh? That's just sick and wrong, that he can just make this up. We're the hateful ones?

Panel 17: Is God in the tent? That's just poorly laid out. It's like those TV shows where someone looks up all dramatically and says "Thank you," and then the camera zooms up, so it looks like God lives in a florescent lamp in a coffee shop in Jersey. 7th Heaven does this all the time (well, GlenOak, not Jersey, but whatever). God's in the trunk of my car, man!

Panel 20: That's some bad dialogue, folks. I think Mr. Chick is stretching awfully far from his text, but oh well.

Panel 22: Wow, no sense of irony there! How is this not offensive to people?

Panel 24: Um, when did they call Lot a bigot? They ripped on him for ordering them around, when he was a stranger to their city. We do this in America all the time (love it or leave it, woo hoo!). Oh, he's drawing a parallel to the homosexual agenda, when we arrest people and put them on trial for making homophobic statements. Except, no we don't, unless they have violated some other law. It's just like school prayer -- by not allowing you to use my time and money to declare your religious beliefs, I'm somehow taking away your religious freedom. Never mind that you can pray to yourself whenever you want, wherever you want -- it doesn't count unless you get to enforce it on other people.

Panel 30: I'm still not convinced as to why this is a good thing.

Panel 32: I'm surprised he only refers to that, not the New Testament citations, because in Leviticus God also demands blood sacrifices, and gives very specific instructions as to how to do that; as far as I know, modern fundamentalists aren't doing this. It also makes some errors in animal classifications (hares, insects and bats), offers a somewhat unorthodox treatment for leprosy, and designates menstruating women as so unclean they must reside separately from the men during this time (of course, this was probably easier when everyone was basically on the same schedule). He explains how to make a literal scapegoat (as opposed to using us gay folk), and don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric (shopping at Wal-mart is probably out, then). If a man rapes a female slave, she gets killed, but he doesn't, because she was a slave. And disrespectful children get put to death. I'm sure you've heard all this before, but you either follow the letter of the law, or the spirit, and I don't see why Leviticus 18:22 or 21:13 get a free ride.

Panel 34: Mommy, why is that men leering at me? That's a strangely lustful look in his eyes. And again, go sell martyrdom somewhere else. Did anyone in this crowd actually assault this guy in any way?

Panel 36: That seems to me to be rather a capricious quoting of John 3:16. It's a horrible paraphrase; if someone pulled a stunt like that in a paper and the professor checked, they'd get raked over the coals. John 3:16 is actually a very beautiful and lyrically translated verse; Jack Chick doesn't want me to like anything about Christianity, I guess.

Panel 37: Eh, his haircut's pretty bad after all. There'll be no more Supercuts franchises in heaven, Sean! But at least he didn't do the version of the prayer where he looks like he's about to be violated, like in so many of these things.

That was actually kind of fun. Then I found this nifty piece. http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0084/0084_01.asp
First of all, what's with the profile on the cover? That makes me take you seriously. Saturday Night Live does more thoughtful social commentary than that with those "Ambigously Gay Duo" cartoons.

Panel 1-5: More bad haircuts. Really bad, in panel 4. As for the wedding, is that supposed to be a priest? I didn't think priests did that, although various Protestant ministers do. He could be Episcopalian, I guess. As for Panel 5, I don't think it's a "joke" to anyone. For some of us, it's a matter of life and death.

Panel 6: That commentary made so little sense. But again, it's nice that Jack Chick knows so little about us that he thinks we dress like 1970s rodeo clowns on crack, yet presumes to know how tragic our lives are, and how we lust endlessly. You know, a lot of televangelists and conservative Christian politicians have had extramarital affairs. Lust is for everyone!

Panel 7: Why the quotes? I don't get it. Anyway, "common" is kind of a stretch. Woo hoo, Will and Grace and the one character on Dawson's Creek who never has sex.

Panel 8 and 9: Yeah, wanting equal protection under the law and being productive members of society. We are ee-vil.

Panel 10: Note that he cites no such "reliable" study.

Panel 11: Well, those were poorly trained archaeologists! I have trouble believing that an early 20th century archaeologist would never have studied ancient Greece, and thus inevitably encountered homosexuality before. It's pretty straightforward, no pun intended. And what evidence is he showing, exactly? Two guys freaked out at seeing some evidence of "gayness." Okay.

Panel 12: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Careless.

Panel 14-15: There's that violation posture. Jack Chick uses it a lot. But Lot is a lot less sleazy looking in this version.

Panel 16: The woman is shown at a really odd angle, for no reason I can imagine other than to emphasize her breasts.

Panel 17: Okay, the word "gay" is so not in the Bible. This is just so sloppy.

Panel 19: Nifty, with the little parenthetical. Been there, done that.

Panel 20: Still not with the irony -- poor girls. That really gets to me. I'm used to being hated, for the most part, but the fact that the hero of this morality tale offers his daughters to be raped is just incomprehensible to me.

Panel 24: That picture is again oddly lurid. Mr. Chick never misses a chance to show those, does he?

Panel 26: As if! Take the offensive? What laws are these? We still aren't protected by civil rights legislation in most places, let alone the issue of marriage. Anti-hate crime laws cover things that are already crimes; they just argue that there is something particularly despicable about assaulting someone for a basic element of their identity. Seriously, I want a citation here.

Panel 27: It was the early Christians who messed this up? Okay. Not all gay men are effeminate; we don't all lisp and shuffle and like Barbie dolls. Nor do we have some special affinity with women, for that matter; I guess maybe we share some understanding on certain issues (without getting into a gender studies sidebar about oppression), but it isn't as if we're all really women trapped in men's bodies. I find football tedious, but like I said, I find shoe-shopping pretty awful, too.

Panel 28-29: Again with the creepy breast angle.

Panel 30: Citation for life expectancy, please?

Panel 31: Again with the recruiting nonsense. Really, who has the time?
The rest of this is pretty standard Chick fare, including his creepy portraits of God. Oh, well.


I'm not going through this one panel by panel. But on the topic of AIDS, it is relevant, because the spread of this kind of misinformation is hateful. I think that the doctor in this story is behaving criminally negligently and possibly has committed the crime of "depraved indifference." If this were true, I would be filing complaints with every medical organization I could find.

Because it is wicked to take away hope like that, and this doctor is LYING in order to manipulate a frightened teenager. I'm not trying to minimize the horrors of AIDS, but there is hope. People have lived for YEARS in good health while on medication, and new treatments are being developed every year. Is the implication here really that doctors shouldn't offer medical help to AIDS patients? How despicable! What a lie! Suzie is not "dying," she is living with a disease, and there is support, treatment and information available. As someone who now lives with a permanent disability, and is very close to someone who has a chronic disease that requires constant monitoring, I am utterly disgusted by this entire tract. Furthermore, I volunteer at a children's AIDS hospice, so I think I have a right to be offended by this kind of manipulation and lies. Oh, but right, I forgot, I'm a pedophile and pervert, and obviously that's why I color with dying five year olds. Think about what you say, please.

But if you can scare someone, why not lie? One of the most amusing of all Chick tracts may be the one about rock n' roll, which also includes an AIDS reference. Satan gives a musician AIDS as a "punishment" for getting married, and he dies in three months. Now, in the early days of AIDS, it was a virtual death sentence, and help wasn't available, in large part because it was seen as isolated to gay men (Randy Shilts' "As the Band Played On," and the subsequent miniseries are considered sort of the Bible on this issue). But that's just not true today, in a lot of cases, and I think it is a terrible sin for people to lie like that in an effort to convert people.

So, why does all of this matter, anyway?

Because you are alienating us, every time you lie, every time you call us names, every time you spread false information, and every time you refuse to answer our questions with honest, respectful responses. You are pushing us further and further away from God, and you dare to claim you tell these lies and wield these weapons and dwell on our damnation out of love.

And when you say these things? You bear the stain of the more than 2000 assaults against gays and lesbians that take place every year in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because you have contributed to the mindset that leads to these crimes. You have presumed to give arrogant answers to situations you have never faced, you have compared us to violent criminals and called us less than human, you have used us as the scapegoat for everything God hates. Is it really a surprise when this leads someone to violence?

I could say I hope you burn in Hell. But the truth is, I don't. I can't even think about Hell; I've been at deathbeds, and I've been in a coma, and I can't comprehend the idea of eternal suffering. I will never understand why so many Christians have made such a little, little God. I can love better than your God.

And I think I will.