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Friday, June 27, 2014

Pro-Choice Activists Might Want to Emulate These Gay Boys

Posted by on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Last weekend, just a few days before the buffer-zone protected Supreme Court ruled that buffer zones around abortion clinics in Massachusetts are unconstitutional, I was at lunch with some good friends in West Hollywood, America's gayest city. Someone mentioned the anti-gay protesters who sometimes show up at pride parades and Mike, who has lived in WeHo for more two decades, told us all an uplifting story: Twenty years ago a small group of gay men drove a much bigger group of anti-gay Christian protesters out of West Hollywood. Forever.

"This was in the early 1990s," Mike said when I got him on the phone today and asked him to tell me the story again. "It was a long time ago and I was young party boy in WeHo then, so some of the details are fuzzy. But all these fresh-faced bible people had started coming to WeHo every weekend. They would stand on the corner in front of the Don’t Panic t-shirt shop on Santa Monica Boulevard," which is right in the center of the gay nightlife district, "and pass out literature condemning us. We were all dying of AIDS and they weren't coming to offer anything that might look like help—they were coming into our neighborhood to hand out literature that condemned us. People were enraged."

The church group couldn't understand why the gay men they were trying to "reach" were so angry.

"The people from the church were enraged that the gay people they were 'trying to help' were enraged," said Mike. "But they were harassing us! They called it 'outreach' and told us they were just trying to save us from Satan. It was harassment."

The anti-gay Christian bigots came back, week after week, for two months. Then one of Mike's friends had a bright idea: The name and the address of the church these people were from? It was on the literature they were handing out. And the church wasn't that far away. It was an easy drive...

"So a group of guys got together and went to this church on a Sunday morning and stood out in front of it handing out pamphlets about how being gay is okay," said Mike. "They also handed out pamphlets about how to come out to your parents. They only did it once—and that church group stopped coming to WeHo to harass people. That was all it took. Showing up outside their church and 'reaching out' to them the same way there were 'reaching out' to us. We never saw them again."

I remembered Mike's story about a gay men doing 'outreach' at the church whose members were doing 'outreach' in the gay neighborhood—imagine the reaction when gay men handed info on coming out to your parents to the children of these shits—when I read this post at Rude Pundit:

Now, we can argue over whether or not the idea of "buffer zones" violates the First Amendment and if they are ever right, whether at clinics or conventions or the miles you have to stand away from the Supreme Court, but one thing we can perhaps agree on: If this is the motherfucking law of the land now, what's good for the motherfuckin' goose is good for the motherfuckin' gander.

So let's get out there, every goddamn Sunday, and head to the churches that send their lunatic Jesus-fellaters out to try to shut down Planned Parenthoods, and stand on their sidewalks, just like the one up there outside St. Mary's in Grafton, and let's make churchgoing a living fuckin' hell for 'em. Let's bodily block the access to the walkways that lead to the church. Let's bring signs that have pictures of women who were killed by illegal abortions. Let's go up to them and try to convince them to convert or go atheist, following them until we are on church property and have to stop. Let's block the street by walking back and forth in the crosswalk. Let's force the churchgoers to need escorts to even get inside.... Then let's see how quickly they're begging for buffer zones.

It's a great idea—and it's the same one a small group of gay men fighting both the plague and the bigots had in the early 1990s. And it worked.


Comments (34) RSS

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Pope Peabrain 1
I still think we would be better off swinging dildos at them outside abortion clinics. Go as ordinary nuns and lift your skirts to show them big pink dicks.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on June 27, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Post_Mortem 2
If I didn't work on Sundays, I'd sign up.
Posted by Post_Mortem on June 27, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
pfffter 3
I would do this in a heartbeat. WHERE do I sign up?
Posted by pfffter on June 27, 2014 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Since the churches are demonstrably dangerous places for children, the outreach is indeed very important. And, just as the church protesters hold graphic photos of the "crimes" they perceive, we should hold signs graphically depicting priests raping children. They could be made in photoshop if necessary. And, indeed could feature the faces of the actual priest at the church in question and the actual parishioners to make the dangers seem immediate and clear. A real public service.
Posted by FredSlogger on June 27, 2014 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 5
But let me add, never, ever put your hands on anyone. Touching anybody can get you charged with assault and you don't want them getting any satisfaction.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on June 27, 2014 at 3:18 PM · Report this
venomlash 6
I'm in. Thankfully I live in a civilized place where hard-right churches don't run the show.
Posted by venomlash on June 27, 2014 at 3:31 PM · Report this
We should start stalki- "gently counseling" the Supreme Court justices themselves about how to rule on their cases in "loving, caring, consensual conversations" as they walk into the building.
Posted by itsthekenneth on June 27, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
I'm all for it Dan! I live in Maryland and am not aware of any anti-choice protesters blocking clinics here but I would definitely support the tactics suggested in your post.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The Supreme Court Justices have just created more chaos for women exercising their reproductive rights.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on June 27, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Dan, I see where you're coming from. The problem is this: "It's okay to be gay!" is a different message than what we're selling, which they think is "Murdering children is okay!" I am thrilled that LGBTQ rights have progressed so much, but during that time, reproductive rights have gone backwards. I want to protest churches and would sign up in a second. I just don't think it is going to convince anybody to let us "murder our babies".
Posted by wxPDX on June 27, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Report this
Yeah venomlash, I think you live in Chicago and there are often protesters outside the clinic on Western south of Diversey as well as the one #8 lists.Don't be complacent just because we're in a "blue" city.
Posted by chi_type on June 27, 2014 at 8:24 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 12

Abortion does not murder babies. Learn about how the human reproduction system works and get back to us.
Posted by passionate_jus on June 27, 2014 at 8:40 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 13

PS my cousin just had to get an abortion at 18 weeks. There were huge complications and the fetus was not going to live anyway. She is going through a lot of emotions right now.

Her choices were, literally:

1) get an abortion
2) die

So kindly fuck off.
Posted by passionate_jus on June 27, 2014 at 8:47 PM · Report this
Knat 14
This sounds like way more fun than what I see on event meetup sites. It could be called the "It Gets Louder Project."
Posted by Knat on June 27, 2014 at 9:19 PM · Report this
Tetchy Brit 15
@12 Woah there! @10 was saying that's what the bible bashers believe it to be, not what it actually is.
Posted by Tetchy Brit on June 27, 2014 at 9:50 PM · Report this
If a group of protesters began doing exactly what abortion protesters are doing down to the details to the wealthy patrons who are entering clinics to get plastic surgery - they wouldn't like it one bit - would get the law involved and soon, the supreme court would have to make another determination on this. Or somehow make a terrily hypocritical exception and prove that it's really all about keeping women from having control over their own bodies.
Posted by SondraCarr66 on June 28, 2014 at 1:18 AM · Report this
Um, I think folks may have misunderstood the court ruling. According to what I have read, the Supremes were not in favor of harassment and in fact pointed out that where there was a problem at a specific abortion clinic there should be a local ordinance/law passed to protect people from harassment. What they struck down was the right of the State to pass a state-wide buffer zone that included all clinics regardless of whether there was a problem or not. It was a ruling over jurisdiction and not the specific problem.
Posted by heartfelt on June 28, 2014 at 1:52 AM · Report this
I think signs showing the photos and names, and most importantly, church affiliation of youth pastors, a la Dan's Youth Pastor Watch would be awesome for picketing churches. Demonstrators could also carry Ken dolls and ask church going teens to point to where their youth pastor or minister touched them.
Posted by kwodell on June 28, 2014 at 5:37 AM · Report this
#13. Your lack of reading comprehension is embarrassing you, and you don't even know it.
Posted by jade on June 28, 2014 at 8:26 AM · Report this
Posted by Gerald Fnord on June 28, 2014 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Nyckname 23
Back in the day, when an evangelist with a bullhorn would show up on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley to read from "the good book", Troll (he picked the nickname, not us) would drown him out by reading from Dr. Seuss (a good book). Without a bullhorn.
Posted by Nyckname on June 28, 2014 at 3:19 PM · Report this
raindrop 24
Acceptance of homosexuality is not parallel with acceptance/opposition to killing fetuses,
Posted by raindrop on June 28, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this
ams_ 25
Don't forget to hand out sex-ed and abortion resource sheets to any adolescents you see heading into church.
Posted by ams_ on June 28, 2014 at 8:22 PM · Report this
sissoucat 26

Absolutely lovely !
Posted by sissoucat on June 29, 2014 at 4:19 AM · Report this
One day every knee will bow but the greatest joy goes to those who embrace Him now.
Posted by John way on June 29, 2014 at 7:41 PM · Report this
@27 Scary!
Posted by fubar on June 29, 2014 at 9:07 PM · Report this
sissoucat 29
@27 One "day", are you fucking with us ? It will be one night, you heresiarch ! Read the Bible, for once !
Posted by sissoucat on June 30, 2014 at 2:26 AM · Report this
This is a great idea, except for one thing... there are *way more* far-right churches than abortion clinics. Thanks to a plethora of restrictive laws, abortion clinics are relatively scarce in America. Churches need only mobilize a small crew of anti-choice zealots to cover the small field of abortion clinic entrances. Churches, on the other hand, are far more prevalent. If we want to enact this approach, we'll have a staffing problem.
Posted by offfwhite on June 30, 2014 at 7:10 AM · Report this
I like this. The fetus fetishists have hijacked the conversation and moved it away from real women. Putting real women back in front is where its at. That's what the pamphlets should be all about--not biology but humanity.
Posted by stating the obvious on June 30, 2014 at 8:14 AM · Report this
Nope, it is just not comparable Dan. First, as someone else said, a lot of these... citizens... are bussed in to major metro areas from BumFuckAll, AR, for a fun weekend of scoffing at minorities and harassing women while grossly mis-understanding how public transit works. So doing it "back" to them would require a LOT of people, buses, and time, all of which local clinic escort groups really, really don't have.

Second, the other half of the anti-nutters are usually "lone creep" types, who are so outre that they don't even have a home church, they just hate women who have sex. That's their religion. They just get up every dingley-dang-day and hate women for having sex. You see these guys (usually guys, but sometimes weepy older women of a vaguely Catholic or Mormon affiliation) holding up their bloody dead babies signs on college campuses as well, because that's where the sluts are. I guess?
Posted by Kes on June 30, 2014 at 8:38 AM · Report this
debug 33
Good on those 90s gays for solving the problem with brain power and initiative instead of violence.

Why limit it to churches?

Find out where the more outspoken leaders of these protests work and pay their workplace a visit as well, or where their children go to school, or their homes.

As long as it was non-violent it would probably spook the hell out of them.

LOL, if anybody watched HBO's "The Leftovers" last night you can see how creepy having some 'watchers' show up in front of your home can be.
Posted by debug on June 30, 2014 at 10:22 AM · Report this
@18 Of course the justices don't admit that they're "in favor of harassment"!! That would make them look like uncouth bigots. The respectable way to oppose the freedom of women is to focus on narrow legal issues and rule for your side on that basis.

I won't hold my breath waiting for SCOTUS to uphold a LOCAL buffer zone law instead of a STATE law. Do you really think that the current majority would be cool with such a law?

Bottom line, clinics will now need to ask police to prosecute harassment on a case by case basis. This is incredibly difficult, as unless there's evidence then it is a "he said, she said" situation.

I hope that clinics have lots of cameras installed to document this criminal activity.
Posted by ML77 on June 30, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
In the 1990s awesome story, it seems that the counterprotest was completely positive and upbeat, and I wonder if that was a major part of why it worked. Part of the problem there was that the churchgoers didn't understand why their "help" was so unwelcome, so acting helpful was a really effective part of the message, it showed what that "help" felt like.
Posted by SpaceGirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:30 PM · Report this
Ditto spacegirl. If you want the outcome to be constructive, you can't simply fight back with equal venom. That might be satisfying, but you would be doing nothing to help anyone, and would only feed the churches' victim complex.

An equivalent to that story might be handing out pamphlets about the importance of access to reproductive health, including abortions. Try to get those in the hands of their kids. (You might also include stats about graduation rates and socioeconomic outcomes for pregnant teens.)

(Also, as someone who's been a part of vocally pro-choice congregations before, think about which churches you picket. )
Posted by duffellduffell on July 1, 2014 at 4:57 AM · Report this
XiaoGui17 37
@12 & 13: Get a grip. @10 was NOT calling abortion baby-murder, they were simply explaining that this is the pro-life perception of abortion. That is an accurate assessment.

Personally, I'd love to do counter-protests not at churches necessarily, but at Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Just hand out pamphlets explaining that (1) This is not a medical clinic, (2) It is not legally required to keep your information confidential, (3) If you want a free pregnancy test, I have one from CVS right here, and (4) If you want to go to a real clinic where you can get real medical advice, I'm more than willing to drive you.
Posted by XiaoGui17 on August 21, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this

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