Karine Jean-Pierre
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Bees to

Bees to

Most of us are
aware of the intensely antigay Westboro Baptist Church,
which has staged public demonstrations for nearly two
decades, claiming everything from hurricanes to AIDS
to the Iraq war is divine retribution for our
country’s tolerance of homosexuality. (Check out its
subtly named website, GodHatesFags.com.) But who among
us can say he’s given church leader Shirley
Phelps-Roper a primer on bagels and lox?

Over the 3½
years that I’ve been writing the blog Good as You,
I’ve had the opportunity to engage in
e-conversations with so many antigay activists my
in-box is starting to look like it was transplanted from
Mike Huckabee’s computer. And while heated
discussions with these “pro-family”
types about our theological differences (and their
predictions of my future residency in hell) have certainly
occurred, they have also surprised me with their
kindness, genuine concern for my well-being, and

I’ve had
higher-ups at Focus on the Family eagerly offer me a tour of
their Colorado Springs compound. A prominent
“ex-gay” advocate invited my partner and
me to a family dinner. Other times, someone who has publicly
denounced gay life and gay love will write to tell me they
found a quip I wrote about them to be witty and
spot-on. The common message seems to be: “We
hate everything you have to say, but we enjoy the tone with
which you say it.”

That’s why
these folks, whose work I challenge on a daily basis, are so
willing to be my friendly acquaintance. When penning an
unapologetic condemnation of homophobic, heterosexist
rhetoric, I never attack my adversaries’
character but rather their chosen positions. The terms bigot
and hatemonger are not in my arsenal. Instead of being a
flamethrower, I prefer to toss the antigays’
flames aside and take a piss on them.

It’s one
part strategy, one part sincerity. While it’s true I
made a deliberate choice to take a more pacifist
approach, it honestly feels more like that tactic
chose me. When I entered into this “culture
war” debate, the stones just felt wrong in my
hand. The more I studied the fight, the more I began
to feel that victory would come by highlighting the
slings and arrows that are directed toward our community,
not by regifting those weapons in a pro-gay fashion.

Those on the
antigay side want to dislike us. They need to believe our
minds are “reprobate,” so as to justify within
themselves the all-out war they wage against our
“chosen lifestyles.” The robber to their cop,
the Joker to their Batman, the replacement Dreamgirl
to their Effie—we’ve been cast as the
hurdles on their path toward happily ever after. But by
refusing to let them get away with their polarized portrait
of good versus evil, I force them instead to address
my refutation of their logic. They can write off other
confrontations as an exchange between the wicked and
the righteous, but I don’t give them such an easy
opportunity to trivialize my words.

This may sound
like capitulation to some. However, I think it’s
exactly the opposite: By engaging them human to human,
I’ve gained a unique entrance into the hearts
and minds of our most vehement foes. It may be
presumptuous and self-adulatory to say so, but I
can’t help but believe that when they lie down
to sleep at night, all quiet in the world around them,
some of them might question their views because of me. They
might not completely come around to my way of
thinking, but they sure as hell aren’t going to
write me off as a demon-possessed heathen whose words
they’ll simply relegate to the “hater”

When you have
truth on your side, there’s no strategic need for
defensive aggression. So I don’t yell at my
gay-unfriendly pen pals. I tell them in a fair but
firm voice: “You have no way of winning because
you’ve chosen a losing position. Wanna go have
some coffee and discuss your inevitable

Tags: World, World

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