The 45 Biggest Homophobes of Our 45 Years
BY Lucas Grindley
August 21 2012 5:00 AM ET
Above from left: Jimmy Swaggart, Jesse Helms, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The TV evangelist served on the board (with upstanding folks like Jerry Falwell) of the American Coalition for Traditional Values, which called on politicians to sign a pledge promising never to accept campaign contributions from gay people. Later in life, Swaggart apologized for saying on air, “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died.” It was all a joke, of course, he said. Swaggart gave a similarly vague apology when caught with a prostitute.
A 1992 Sissy honoree for saying he’d like to wipe all HIV-positive people off the face of the earth, the California congressman had a mouth that put him in the pages of The Advocate with a regularity reserved for only the biggest homophobes. Dannemeyer signed that pledge from the American Coalition for Traditional Values promising never to take campaign donations from gay people. And when he was in search of a consultant on AIDS in the ’80s, Dannemeyer hired Paul Cameron.
The chairman of the Family Research Institute used to claim that a substantial number of gay men eat feces and that Americans are something like 15 times more likely to be murdered by a gay person than a straight one. He still calls himself a psychologist even though he was kicked out of the American Psychological Association for his debunked views. There was a time when Cameron was frequently called as an expert witness in legal proceedings. For example, when Houston voters in 1985 followed the Anita Bryant model from Miami and stopped a proposed antidiscrimination ordinance, Cameron had been paid $1,600 to speak before the City Council. The cover of the October 29, 1985, issue of The Advocate asked, “Paul Cameron: Most Dangerous Antigay Voice in America?” He divulged in a radio interview this year that as a young boy he was attracted to other boys. But don’t worry; he says now, “If anything, I am repelled by it.”
“If you want to call me a bigot, fine,” the U.S. senator from North Carolina once said. So naturally he’s on our list of ultimate homophobes. Helms made that dare after refusing to confirm a “damn lesbian” named Roberta Achtenberg as assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He later threatened to never let gay philanthropist James Hormel get a confirmation hearing on his ambassadorial nomination by President Clinton. Helms even ranted against the U.S. Postal Service for a postmark commemorating the Stonewall riots. “Bosh and nausea and a pox upon whoever in the postal service made this irrational decision,” Helms said — not while mixing a potion, but from the floor of the Senate in 1989.
It was surely odd when Iran’s president claimed in 2007 that there were no gay people in his country, especially since the government had recently executed a few by hanging.