The 45 Biggest Homophobes of Our 45 Years

The LGBT rights movement has had its share of villains. These are some of the worst.

BY Lucas Grindley

August 21 2012 4:00 AM ET



Above, from left: The John Birch Society, Sally Kern, Dan White

The John Birch Society
The society has long opposed antidiscrimination laws and was often linked to 1988’s failed California Proposition 102, which required anyone who tested positive for HIV to be reported to the government and their sexual contacts investigated. It also would have erased laws against compulsory testing. Although once a mainstay of the right wing, the John Birch Society is now considered so wing nut it’s not allowed to cosponsor the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. For entirely different reasons, neither is GOProud — a group for gay conservatives.

Sally Kern
It was during an appearance at the John Birch Society’s conference that this Oklahoma state representative warned in 2009 of a secret gay plot with “the final goal” of “eventual triumph of homosexuality as a superior lifestyle.” Watch out, world, you’re in for a makeover.

Fred Cherry
Long before Sally Kern, this serial postcard-mailer warned in the late 1960s of a coming “pervert world” in which gay people rule and heterosexuals are oppressed. His oversize postcards sometimes accused public figures of being secretly gay. And he sued the U.S. Postal Service for his right to mail them, taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court. He lost.

Exodus International
The Advocate caught an offshoot of this group in 1987 trying to corner AIDS patients in their hospital rooms with the suggestion they stop being gay. But Exodus’s primary activity since the late ’70s — when it was founded by Jim Kaspar and Mike Bussee, both of whom claimed to be “ex-gay” — has been hosting conferences in hopes of opening the wallets of gays and bisexuals wanting to stunt their sexuality. Bussee left the organization — and his wife — to be with the man he loved, Gary Cooper, another Exodus pioneer. Bussee issued a public apology for Exodus’s work in 1991. So maybe that’s why no one’s falling for this year’s desperate attempt to remain relevant and stave off bankruptcy with an image makeover. Exodus’s latest president, Alan Chambers, admits homosexuality can’t be cured but claims it can be ignored. Good luck with that.

Dan White
The man who gunned down Harvey Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone in 1978 was sentenced to just seven years in prison for the killings. The light sentence sparked what became known as the White Night Riots.

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