By Sikivu Hutchinson

“God hates fags,” says the face of terror. It is the now repugnantly familiar slogan of the Westboro Church, a clan of white Christian fundamentalists recently in the public spotlight for a Supreme Court free speech case on anti-gay protests at military funerals. This particular brand of free speech is pure stars and stripes terror, easily repudiated by the enlightened, easily placed in that special category of sweaty troglodyte extremism. Over the past several weeks the impact of anti-gay vitriol has grabbed headlines, from the bullying-related suicides of several young gay men to the snowballing sexual abuse allegations by teenage male parishioners against professional homophobe Bishop Eddie Long. These tragedies have renewed national conversation about the pervasiveness of bullying in schools. Bullying is vicious, unconscionable and life-threatening. Yet reactive public condemnations of bullying often foreclose real analysis of the systemic mechanisms that institutionalize violence and terror against gay, lesbian and gender non-conforming children.

As a straight middle class girl in a homophobic heterosexist school community I was trained to dehumanize gay kids. After all, God, as we were fond of jeering to the suspected “fags” at my elementary school, created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. Historical leaders were straight, public figures were straight, normal families were straight, laws sanctified straight families, law enforcement protected male dominance over women and children in the home, and the exotic world of romantic love pulsed to the tune of boy conquers girl. This was our creed, our lifeblood, our moral universe, our cultural license for terror. This was the moral universe that claimed the life of Carl Walker-Hoover, an eleven year old African American Massachusetts boy who committed suicide in April 2009 after the adult leaders at his school failed him. Like scores of youth who are targeted for being gender non-conforming, Hoover-Walker’s pleas for help from school administration went unanswered. Coverage of his death barely made a dent in the mainstream media. Coverage of the bullying-related suicide of a white Massachusetts high school girl during the same period made national headlines. In 2008, the murder of gender non-conforming middle school student Lawrence King by a fellow classmate in Oxnard California put anti-gay bullying in the public spotlight. Prior to Lawrence King’s murder, homophobic violence in schools elicited little media attention or national outcry...More@

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Comment by Shutch on October 11, 2010 at 11:23am
Thanks for your insights. Yes, the whole tolerance thing is often just a bromide for the maintenance and reproduction of status quo power relations.
Comment by Frankie Dapper on October 8, 2010 at 10:57pm
Good article. Catholic church informs the institutions, the culture and the individuals. Wrong side of every issue. Endless harms and evil emanates and oozes the repugnant walls of the ugly edifice.
Some manifestations of "tolerance" remind me of separate but equal.



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