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Friday, September 28, 2012

A Call to Straight People

Posted by on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Slog reader Laura writes:

My friend recently started phone banking for marriage equality. She had a horrific call.

Tonight, I went to volunteer with WA United for Marriage. I was very reluctant to do phone banks to try to convince people to please vote to give me equal rights. However, I know that's their area of biggest need. On the 3rd call, I get XXXXX from Port Angeles who tells me she's not in favor because "peckers shouldn't go where you poop" and that she refuses to "let her homo nephew in the house because those people have diseases." Tears begin rolling down my cheek and I realize I can't do this. I also happened to be the only gay person (which I find rather shameful) at this phone bank. I wanted to leave early but after I calmed down from my not so short meltdown, I was given the job of calling other supportive people and asking them to do phone banks (hopefully, they're straight or don't feel as emotional as I do). However, I will go back and call folks next week because I want to marry my beloved.”

I wonder if we can't call on our straight allies to make these phone calls. Listening to this kind of bull is so emotionally draining for many gay people. I cant begin to imagine what it would be like to hear such terrible things without absorbing even a little of it...

Straight people, please stand up. Volunteer to join the phone bank and call other people. When you have something that you know is special and you realize that not everyone has access to that special thing, compassionate humans offer a hand up to the others.

How do you volunteer to join a phone bank? Here is how you volunteer to join a phone bank. It's very easy.


Comments (41) RSS

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I am straight and I phonebank every week. The vast vast majority of the calls are not like that, but even us breeders have to take a moment and take a breath when we hear such naked bigotry and hate being spewed over the phone line at us. For me, it just doubles me down on winning this fight and making more calls. Last night I spoke to a woman who supports us and even volunteers but is now in fear of the mortal sin she may be committing after the NJ bishop's announcement that supporters of gay marriage should not take communion. Most people we talk to have never had a rational, non-rhetoric driven conversation with someone about R-74. And when they do have that conversation, it often changes their minds. That matters. This matters. The hardest part about phone banking is making the commitment to do it, not the calls themselves. But this fight is all about commitment!
Posted by Hannahfresca on September 28, 2012 at 6:20 AM · Report this
This anecdote is Savage bait. A quick-thinking Savage Love reader would have pointed out to the hateful aunt that straight people have anal sex too. And that when you consider how many more straight people there are than gays, on the whole, there are more straights than gays putting peckers where you poop.
Posted by Punditwatch on September 28, 2012 at 6:22 AM · Report this
Griffin 4
I did door knocking in Minnesota with Minnesotans United. If phonebanking gives you heeby jeebies about talking with crazy, Laura's friend shouldn't go out intentionally to meet these folks. I had less scary and tense experiences working for the Census and tallying residents at drug grow/manufacturing sites than I did knocking on doors.

This isn't to say that talking to people should stop because we find it uncomfortable, but no one should be traumatized, either.
Posted by Griffin on September 28, 2012 at 6:46 AM · Report this
Wait, wait, wait. So horrible shit like that isn't supposed to bother me because I'm straight? So I can't empathize with her nephew or be aghast at her bigotry?

Come on. This is stupid. This has more to do with your personal ability to deal with interacting with a horrible person who is saying shit that bothers you than it does whether you are gay or straight yourself.
Posted by Dave M on September 28, 2012 at 6:55 AM · Report this
rob! 6
@1, you or I might roll our eyes or groan in frustration at someone in fear of "mortal sin" for going against the pronouncement of a priest or bishop, but a useful tactic is bringing up the "primacy of conscience"—many people who've done everything they think good Catholics should do for years are unaware of it (because the Church wants it that way).
“Every judgment of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, in such wise that he who acts against his conscience always sins.” –Saint Thomas Aquinas
Google around with the bolded phrase for your talking points.
Posted by rob! on September 28, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
@2 these people probably want to outlaw straight sodomy too.
Posted by Jason Petersen on September 28, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 8
i think i may know who that was. she's a very horrible, sad person.
Posted by Max Solomon on September 28, 2012 at 7:05 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
@ 5, there's empathy for gays and then there's actually being gay. Never equate the two.

Whatever horrible things we straights hear about gays, we can never actually FEEL what a gay person feels. Our empathy is a distant echo. Their feelings are front row at a Motörhead concert.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 28, 2012 at 7:16 AM · Report this
bgk 10
@5 I think what the author might be trying to say, is that it might affect you less personally because you're straight, than to hear again the words that are being used against you for something you are, fighting for a right you want to have.

Not that it shouldn't be offensive, but that it might be less personally offensive, because you're straight, and not a queer :)
Posted by bgk on September 28, 2012 at 7:24 AM · Report this
well this is hypocritical of me as I've never worked at a phone bank, but I do think we (gays) can't just take the attitude of 'this is too emotional draining - straight allies - you do all the work for us with phone banks' . be the change you want in the world. so us gays (and yes, hypocritical me too) should suck it up and phone bank away, and yes, ask for our awesome straight/bi/etc allies to pitch in as much as they can. Much easier to inspire folks to take a certain action when we're willing to do it ourselves...
Posted by freshnycman on September 28, 2012 at 7:34 AM · Report this
bgk 12
I just want to be clear, I'm working phonebanks weekly, so I totes get where the poster is coming from. Its too important to just sit on the sidelines at this point. We have to get out the vote, and we're not going to do that sitting at home wishing and hoping. Its going to come by having hard conversations with folks around you, via phone banks, personal talks, and other means.
Posted by bgk on September 28, 2012 at 7:37 AM · Report this
@6 - Yay for Aquinas!
Posted by MemeGene on September 28, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this
rob! 14
For fun— Australian comedian Craig Reucassel engages foes of marriage equality:…
Posted by rob! on September 28, 2012 at 8:01 AM · Report this
Aurophobia 15
There are five weeks left before the election. If you volunteer just once a week, that's just five nights you'd be giving up to help make history.

We've lost this battle 32 TIMES because the opposition keeps feeding people lies and fear. The only way to combat that is just talking to people. Most people who would vote to against ref. 74 not bad people, they're just very misinformed. When we talk to them at the phone banks, you'd be amazed how many people come around. Usually, all it takes is a story about a real couple that a volunteer knows. That and the assurance that no church will be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

But there are so many people to talk to! We desperately need more people to step up! Please, consider giving just one night a week to the cause. Phone banks are held M-Th and on Sundays and they're located all over the place so you wouldn't have to go far to get to one.
Posted by Aurophobia on September 28, 2012 at 8:54 AM · Report this
john t 16
People like to quote the line from Nietzsche saying "what doesn't kill me only makes me stronger," but it's not really true — what doesn't kill you sometimes leaves you with tender, painful, even debilitating scar tissue. Someone who has endured a lifetime of homophobic insults aimed DIRECTLY AT THEM is going to react differently than a straight person who's overheard homophobic insults directed at someone else or to nobody in particular. If you can't figure out that difference, then you're the one who's stupid. You might as well have just called out Laura for being a pussy. With friends like you, who needs enemies?
Posted by john t on September 28, 2012 at 9:05 AM · Report this
Womyn2me 17
Hello, Laura here. Thanks for posting this, Eli. My friend is the strongest person I know, the fact that she is going back to face this all down.
and yes, I wouldnt mind a 100% straight phone banking brigade. It is a lot harder to stand up for something you don't have to. Gay people have to do this. Straight people do not. I give major props to all the people doing the hard political work, and an extra kiss for those who take the extra step of compassion.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on September 28, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
ERIN! 18
I've been doing phone banking for Washington United for Marriage for a couple weeks now and I'm gay. I really don't find it difficult to detach myself from the crazy. The people who tell me I'm immoral and disgusting? They really just make me laugh. I think if you are confident enough in yourself this wouldn't make you break down like that.
Posted by ERIN! on September 28, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Gay Dude for Romney 19
Sometimes folks are so annoyed at robo calls they are deliberately provocative and say things they don't really feel just to get you mad. Take it with a grain of salt.
Posted by Gay Dude for Romney on September 28, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Gay Dude for Romney 20
Should be 'phone bank' not robo in @19.
Posted by Gay Dude for Romney on September 28, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Afroduck 21
> I also happened to be the only gay person (which I find rather shameful) at this phone bank.

> Straight people, please stand up. Volunteer to join the phone bank and call other people.

Sounds like straight people have already stood up, Laura dear.
Posted by Afroduck on September 28, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Report this
rob! 22
Sounds like you'd be the perfect person to volunteer for marriage-equality phone-banking, @19. And you can tell any "deliberately provocative" people you reach that you're a Gay Dude for Romney! That should be worth something, right?
Posted by rob! on September 28, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Gay Dude for Romney 23
@22: There's nothing provocative about a Republican being for the candidate his party. Much less a gay one.

Yes, take those people that said those awful things on he phone and put them in a room face-to-face with the marriage equality team. If you know human nature at all, you'd acknowledge that the dialog would be significantly less hostile, if hostile at all.

You're the one being provocative by extrapolating what I say into a contorted cheap shot.
Posted by Gay Dude for Romney on September 28, 2012 at 10:01 AM · Report this
@1: Being straight does not a breeder make.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on September 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
@23: You want the phone bank folks to start knocking on doors instead?
Posted by suddenlyorcas on September 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Report this
Okay, I'm not the quickest horse on the track, and it took me more than a few beats to come up with this, but I pass it along in case someone phone banking comes across someone else with an "argument" like that.

"Oh, okay, I see. Well, lesbians don't even have peckers. Please support R-74 so they can get married."
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on September 28, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Report this
rob! 27
You're avoiding the issue as usual, @23. I meant what I said. I did not suggest that YOU are provocative. Rather, that when you reach a person who is belligerently opposed to homosexuals, you have a way to potentially bridge the gap because of your professed conservatism on other issues. Why not use it?

Unless you're actually opposed to marriage equality yourself.
Posted by rob! on September 28, 2012 at 10:28 AM · Report this
I'm confused. The friend, who is gay, finds it shameful she's the only gay person in the phone bank. But then the slog writer who submits it says, "I wonder if we can't call on our straight allies to make these phone calls."

Isn't that what's already happening? What am I missing here?
Posted by johnjjeeves on September 28, 2012 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Gay Dude for Romney 29
@27: My bad Rob. I misread you're comment in @27.

No, I'm for marriage equality as it is a true conservative and libertarian position. Note that Ted Olson, who worked for GW Bush, was on the legal team to defend same sex marriage in CA.
Posted by Gay Dude for Romney on September 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
scary tyler moore 30
gay folks want straight folks to phone bank for marriage equality? sure, if you gay folks stop bitching about straight people going to gay bars. tit for tat, kiddo.
Posted by scary tyler moore on September 28, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 31
@30 - how are these two things related?
Posted by Pridge Wessea on September 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 32
@30 for the Rock It, Sister, win!

On the other hand, bridal bans of straight women are perfectly fine in gay bars.
Posted by Will in Seattle on September 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
very bad homo 33
@30 It's just bridal parties that we want to ban. Ladies and straight allies are always welcome.
Posted by very bad homo on September 28, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
@30: That right there is exactly the reason you're not invited to the bar. You stay home.
Posted by pheeeew!crack!boom! on September 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
"Peckers shouldn't... hmm, I see. So based on what I'm hearing, you plan to vote to approve Referendum 74? I see. So there's nothing I can say that would persuade you vote to reject the measure, for your nephew's sake? Yes, of course. No, Adam and Steve does have a rather odd ring to it, I admit. So I'll put down that you plan to vote to approve R 74, and take you off our calling list. Have a nice day, ma'am."
Posted by Joe Glibmoron on September 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
The letter writer was dismayed that there were too many straight people working the phone banks. wassup with that ?
Posted by fetish on September 28, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 37
thank you for writing to eli about this, laura. i'm sure it wasn't easy for your friend to listen to such willful ignorance. i fully support Referendum 74 and will be voting to approve this in november.

but no go on volunteering for this straight person. gandhi once said that independence for india must be won by indians alone, and when it comes to gay rights, that's my view. No doubt it is shared by many in the gay community.
Posted by scary tyler moore on September 28, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Soupytwist 38
@35 - You are wicked and wonderful.
Posted by Soupytwist on September 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Report this
I strongly disapprove of the implication here that the reason straight people ought to volunteer for the campaign is because gay people are too weak and emotional to handle potential interactions with bigots.

I mean, really. Really. I count at least six different ways in which that's deeply insulting to one group or another.
Posted by robotslave on September 28, 2012 at 10:09 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 40
@35 Worth a shot. They call them low-information voters for a reason.

Not as evil as telling them that THEIR party votes on Wednesday.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on September 29, 2012 at 6:15 AM · Report this

I'm a straight ally who has been phone banking here in Maine for gay marriage - we're one of 4 states voting on this in November. I echo those who strongly disagree with the startingly lame suggestion that gay folks are somehow too weak/emotional to take shit from bigots over the phone, and that straights should be doing it for them? I mean, did you actually intend to post this, Eli? It actually made your friend cry? For fuck's sake, tell him or her to ovary up and get fucking angry! Get righteous. Sobbing gets ya absolutely nowhere, and maybe even emboldens the bigot's view that pansies are weak, beat-up-on-able, and 'less than'. Christ!

Posted by Velvetbabe on September 30, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
sissoucat 42
I think there's something I didn't get here. So, Gay Dude for Romney, could you please state clearly whether you will join a phone bank to help referendum 74 pass ?

Since you're gay, you're for marriage equality, and you're not going to be too emotional about the rejection, knowing it's not really meant, but just a result of robo-calling - you seem like the ideal volunteer, right ?

If you won't, could you explain why ?
Posted by sissoucat on October 1, 2012 at 12:06 AM · Report this

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