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(The following letter was sent to numerous media outlets in the United States, Canada, and other parts.)
August 16, 1998
San Francisco, CA
I am typing this letter here in San Francisco, after having read the FULL PAGE anti-gay ad in this Sunday's Examiner/ Chronicle (August 16, 1998; page A-22). The official excuse by the Examiner's publisher is: it's their right to free speech, as much as we may abhor it (according to a news spot on channel 5 10 o'clock news Friday night, August 14).
(Note: to read other people's opinions, click here and here.)
Well, then, where are the ads from the KKK that Jewish people killed Jesus, but they can be converted? Or ads from the Aryan White Resistance, that black people are subhuman, and should be relegated to zoos? Or from the Idaho Chamber of Commerce proposing that all Chinese Americans be shipped back to the land of their ancestors? After all, that's their right to free speech too, isn't it?
The San Francisco Examiner--one of the major newspapers of northern California--has gladly paid its Judas price of $35,000 to betray its gay citizens. So much for the marvelous "gay mecca". San Francisco shall go down in history for the greatest betrayal to its own people. We have also recently suffered gay bashers and murderers getting off with no worse than probation...including where one judge blamed the murderous consequences of a drunk homophobe on "bad alcohol". Not to mention various gay bashings on MUNI, our local transit, assisted by its drivers and supported by its union...for which reason I have renamed this service "The Homophobe Express".
I have never felt that San Francisco at large, has ever cared much for its gay population. Now, I see my suspicions confirmed: just more phony hetero liberals stabbing us in the back, while they smile in our faces. Meanwhile, I suggest massive demonstrations and civil dissent at the doors of their newspaper building on 5th and Market Streets...as well as a complete boycott of their business...that all present subscribers should cease, immediately, buying their brownshirt newspaper. We should demand that the entire $35,000 should go towards our own homeless, poor, and disabled lesbian and gay people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Likewise, all gay reporters and other employees of the S.F. Chronicle/Examiner should consider a walk-out strike...or even quit their present jobs.
It is obvious to me that homophobia in America is overwhelming us. That if it were just a problem with the religious right, it would never have gone this far. In fact, I conclude that we have far less hetero friends in political office (or in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and clubs), than most of us care to admit.
San Francisco is a melange of minorities...and we all have our differences and arguments. Yet all minorities but one, can safely visit and enjoy neighborhoods of any other minority. It is only us gays who are so terrorized by the other minorities. And the city does little about it.
Now's a good time to test whether or not your hetero associates are really gay-friendly. Don't be assuaged by their claims, "What a shame!" Let's see 'em put their money where their mouth is. If I were hetero, and cared about my gay friends, I'd be walking with my head lowered in shame now...and would put away my public displays of het affection, for the sake of their freedom and respect that America still denies us gays. Like Christianity, heterosexuality has blackened its own reputation so badly, that I think any gay- caring hetero should avoid that term like a plague, and come up with some new word to replace "heterosexual".
I think we should have our own interviewers, walking up to straight couples in gay neighborhoods, and ask them why they feel it's okay to display their affections in public gay areas, when gays can't do the same in their straight neighborhoods and hangouts. We should ask them why they smooch in our bars and clubs, yet don't let us do the same in theirs. I'd ask them: would they invite their gay friends to hetero clubs, and encourage them to feel free to smooch...that they'll protect them if any homophobic outbreak occurs?
I believe that free speech in this country is being abused, and used as a weapon of hatred against gays. Most other western democracies have outlawed homophobic attacks--both verbal and physical. Yet they defend free speech, don't they?
I think that American free speech is a distortion of what it's supposed to be...in that it wrongly defends even the most violent of hate speech. All liberties must have their restrictions, else they soon lose relevance. The restriction on free speech should include the three following rules:
1) No promoting the injury, death, or torture of another person. (As in: "Stone those faggots to death.")
2) No invocation of one's religious beliefs to promote the injury, death, or torture of another person. (As in: "God says these faggots should be stoned to death.")
3) No promoting prejudice against a people or person, that is known to provoke violence or other persecution against them or her/him. (As in: "Would you really let a faggot teach your children?")
Meanwhile (until we earn our freedom as equal-class citizens) I think we should declare a "Hetero Shame Week", immediately following "Gay Pride Week"; here in San Francisco and in all other U.S. cities with a significant lesbian/gay presence. That is...if we don't all get rounded up first, and tortured in laboratory experiments, or made into wallets and lamps.
The purpose of Hetero Shame is mainly to address the silence of the hetero majority that claims to not be allied with the religious right...yet in their silence, they give sanction. They do nothing to speak out against homophobia, nor anything to support gay rights. If this were not true, we'd find many more gay-supportive posters and announcements in hangouts set aside for our "liberal" heterosexual populace (which places indeed DO provide a voice against racism, child abuse, and women's rights). Instead, there's barely a peep of protest against gay hatred.
HETERO SHAME WEEK: whereby all public display of hetero affection be outlawed for that week. Anyone breaking that law would go to jail for 10 days, and be fined $500 (which shall be donated to one or another les/gay rights organizations). Any hetero who can't afford the steep fine, or time away from work...ought to heed well the advice to keep his or her public affections under strict control, for the duration. See how YOU (heteros) like it!
Ezekiel J. Krahlin
First unofficial decoration for the NINTH unofficial "Hetero Shame Week" (2005)
NOTE: There's nothing stopping us from celebrating this holiday ALL year round, so...break out the Turkey baster!