Tuesday, July 03, 2007
by Wayne Besen
The past few weeks my work has taken me to Chicago and New York and I'm leaving for Los Angles tomorrow. I was very fortunate to be asked to speak at the Center on Halstead, a spectacular new GLBT community center that is a national treasure. The $20 million gem has a basketball court, a computer lab, a technology center, an organic grocery store, a cafe, a magnificent theater, and a number of other fantastic gathering venues. Plus, views of Chicago's legendary skyline make The Center a tribute to how far the gay community has come.
Of course, it did not take long for Focus on the Family to exploit the price tag of the Center in their on-going effort to smear gay life. Caleb Price, a Focus "research" flunky, said the center illustrates the "deception of homosexual activists" who regularly present themselves as a "disadvantaged community."
"However, with this new $20 million gay community center in Chicago we see more evidence that, in fact, the homosexual community is one of the wealthiest, most privileged and powerfully influential groups in the country," Price said. "Yet they continue to demand special rights and recognition from society at large - all based on their self-identification with sexual behavioral preferences."
You have got to be kidding me.
Focus on the Family is the bitchiest, whiniest pack of victim-mongering babies on the planet. If a fundamentalist so much as stubs his toe, they are kvetching and ready to call their army of lawyers. This behemoth unceasingly portrays itself as a "disadvantaged community" that is surrounded by radical homosexuals, secular humanists and the ACLU. Yet, they have a cavernous Colorado Springs kingdom that consists of five massive buildings with 1,350 employees and runs on an annual budget of $150 million a year.
Nonetheless, they have the gall to pick on Chicago’s center - a building that would likely fit in James Dobson’s basement. It is amazing that an organization made of fine crystal castles should balk at the supposed extravagance of a glass house.
What Focus on the Family also failed to point out is that many of the people who visit the center each day are truly disadvantaged and use the site as a lifeline. Focus on the Family consistently makes sweeping generalizations about issues and people, without doing their homework to see if what they are actually spewing is true. When is the last time you have been asked a question by a Focus on the Family "researcher"? If they don’t go into the communities they are "reporting" on, what do they actually spend their time researching?
Next, I was in New York at the Gay Pride Parade. While I had a great time and met some fascinating people, I have to admit, it wasn't as wild as I remember in the past. The weekend ended with a frustrated news photographer who was distressed because there were not enough bizarre people to photograph. Sure, this is progress, but watching marchers in polo shirts is kind of boring.
Next stop, LA!
Once on the West Coast, I will be part of a conference sponsored by SoulForce and BeyondExgay.com that will highlight the stories of ex-gay ministry victims. It will be a time of healing for those abused by these groups, as well as a stage to showcase the message that ex-gay groups ruin lives. Christine Bakke and Peterson Toscano, co-founders of Beyond Ex-Gay, have invited the ex-gay leaders of Exodus International to a private dinner June 29.
I suggest Bakke and Toscano take antacid before they sit down so they can stomach the ex-gay leaders pretending that they actually enjoy sexless existences. If you thought your last date was awkward, imagine the conversation at this meal!
Fortunately, Toscano is a comedian, so if it gets too stressful he can deliver a one-liner and ease the tension. I hope he prepares a good monologue, just in case the ex-gays start trying to cast out demons before dessert. I'll be sure to remind our contingent not to order Devil Food cake, just in case.
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