By Cahir O'Dohert-
This week, on the day when young people nationwide were commemorating the shocking spate of suicides by young gay men, the board chair of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Maggie Gallagher published a grandiose letter in The New York Post asking herself, rhetorically, if she had blood on her hands.
Not many were fooled by her philosophical musings. When you argue a position you intend to refute it's just a rationalization. And sure enough that's exactly what followed.
Young gay kids are inherently unstable, she suggested, citing a study out of Massachusetts that, she claimed, showed that gay teenagers "are about twice as likely to report being in a physical fight at school, three times more likely to say they were injured by a weapon and almost four times as likely to say they missed school because they felt physically unsafe, compared to other teens."
Well no kidding, Maggie. Who knew LGTB kids nationwide were being bullied and harassed and attacked and stripped of their humanity daily? Color me shocked.
It's been going on for some time, Gallagher announced, managing to sound mildly surprised.
But what was truly new and interesting about Gallagher's article was the suggestion it was in many ways their own fault. Gay kids, she offered, were victims long before anti-gay groups like hers started in on them.
"Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse - could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT high schoolers than anything people like me ever said?"
Eh, no Maggie. You're not off the hook because you and your multimillion dollar anti-gay political action committee actually foster and promote anti-gay prejudice nationwide. You fight marriage equality because you believe it legitimizes homosexuality. That's the whole point of your organization, to protect and enshrine in law the message that gay people are inferior. We can see your feet behind the curtains, Maggie.
But - still - to write an article that places the blame for gay teen suicides squarely on the teen themselves, and on the day when they were being mourned by the gay community and their allies? And then to chide them for using those young people in "a wider culture war?"
Oh Maggie. You're too much. There are many aspects to homophobia: religious, social, institutional, legal etc. Notoriously, in 2008 your organization compared gays to an oncoming storm.
Do you actually think gay teenagers can't see what you and NOM want the rest of their lives to be like, Maggie?
Perpetuating the message that gay kids don't deserve equality, that they're inherently "dysfunctional" and "sexually disabled" (your own words Maggie) tells them they have no one who really values them and nowhere to go. Studies have shown that rejection by family members and their own peers significantly increases the risk of suicide in gay teens.
In 2000, Gallagher wrote, “homosexuality is like infertility, it is a sexual disability preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species.”
Normal. Human. Disability.
Hear that dog-whistle? Using scare tactics and scare quotes to re-enforce your anti-gay message just proves how little you valued their individual, lonely fates, Maggie.
But, those boys, each of them was, you know, someone's son, Maggie. They were all so young, so untested. They're gone. They'll never come back. The pain of being menaced and marked by their 'inferior' orientation was overwhelming.
You were an unwed mother yourself once Maggie, you must know about the fierce bond that grows between a mother and child. Can you just for a moment imagine the pain those mother's will have to live with for the rest of their lives now? Do you think your crusade has helped them?
If, as could quite easily happen, one of your children turns out to be gay someday, you'll have to contend with the legacy of discrimination that you passed on to them, Maggie. And all the pain too.
Because despite what you may think, gays don't come from "forced sex, or abuse, or addiction," or spring fully formed out of Satan's mouth. They mostly come from the homes of nice Moms and Dads exactly like you and your neighbors. That's what makes what you're doing so dangerous and far reaching and consequential. Your intolerance actually reaches out across all classes, creeds and lives. It blights lives.
You blight lives Maggie.
Those who bring trouble on their families, its said, inherit the wind. So you'd really want to be careful who's closets you're fastening shut, Maggie. I wouldn't want to be you when you realize the gathering storm was one you helped start and prolong yourself.