4 November, 2014

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, well maybe I am, but either way something is brewing internationally among the right-wing-“religious”-homophobic-hate-mongers. They’re all sharing a talking point that links the words Ebola and gay. Now, I’m well aware that political parties and movements agree amongst themselves about what talking points are going to be hewed to… just watch any of the Sunday morning television news shows. But this is different and potentially a whole lot more dangerous, because though we expect Republican (and main-stream Democrat) elected officials to all stick to the party line when speaking to the press, we don’t necessarily think of the totally-out-there crazies as being that organized. It’s one of the things that makes them easier to laugh at, to marginalize, to dismiss, to ignore. But what if they aren’t a bunch of isolated individuals? What if, at least in some nominal way, they are all working together to craft, fine-tune and disseminate their messages of hate?

In the news today is a report from St. Petersburg, Russia that Vitaly Milonov wants Apple CEO Tim Cook banned from entering Russia. Milonov is the anti-gay politician who co-authored Russia’s “propaganda law” which criminalizes any mention of anything or anyone gay anywhere minors can see or read it. Think about it… it’s a law that makes it a federal offense to have a gay character in a play or movie or book that might be seen or read by a minor… to mention being gay in a blog or website or news report. Hitler demanded that homosexuals wear pink triangles so everyone would know who they were. Putin and Milonov demand homosexuals become invisible so no one knows they exist… imagine what that does to a boy or girl struggling with their sexuality, desperate to believe they are not the only person on the planet who is attracted to people of their own sex. It’s a law whose effects become more devastating every day, but which, having had it’s fifteen minutes in the spotlight, has completely fallen off the radar of American journalism.

Milonov’s rant demanding Cook be barred from Russia is reported to have stated in part, “What can he bring us? The Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea? All of them over there have promiscuous relations. Ban him forever.” In addition, using the homosexual propaganda legislation as justification, a group of Russian companies have now removed an i-phone-shaped memorial to Steve Jobs erected a year ago, from the place it stood outside St. Petersburg College. The group was quoted in Reuters as saying, “After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values.” A friend of mine suggested that Apple should counter by immediately ending all sales of their products to Russians and incorporating a chip into their products that prevents them from functioning in Russia. He continued that Apple should then announce that this new policy would remain in effect as long as Russia’s anti-gay laws remain in effect and let the Russian people decide which was more important to them. But that’s besides the point.

Also in the news today was a report that Pastor James David Manning of the ATLAH Worldwide Missionary, whose Harlem, NYC church had previously been in the news because of its billboard proclaiming “Jesus would stone homos,” is now going after Starbucks (a frequent target of the right-wing homophobes for its long standing support of the gay community and its vocal and financial support of marriage equality). Manning is quoted as saying that he is now “on the Ebola watch” and warning people to stay away from Starbucks because it is “ground zero for Ebola” because its locations are a meeting place for “generally upscale sodomites” intent on having “clandestine sex.”

What particularly struck me in these two news stories was the linking of Ebola and gay people. Other than the usual right-wing-fundamentalist-crazy rhetoric that every disaster and disease is God wreaking vengeance on America for allowing homosexuals to not only live but marry (isn’t it fascinating how in the name of Jesus, these “Christians” exclusively invoke the wrathful Old Testament God?), what possible connection is to be found between Ebola and gay people?

Doing a Google search of the words “Ebola” and “Gay” I could not find a single mention of a gay Ebola patient or victim. But I did find a plethora of articles websites, posts and rants from all over the world claiming that Ebola is being spread by gays (and by President Obama, who apparently is now not only not a natural-born American, and a Muslim, but gay and a carrier of Ebola). One “compassionate”site gets straight to the heart of the matter. It urges a “measured response” to blaming gays for the Ebola epidemic by immediately dissolving all gay marriages and civil unions and allowing Christian leaders and scientists to conduct a thirty-year study to determine the correlation between gay marriage and the spread of Ebola… for the good of the greater society.

The gay community suffered an enormous setback in our rights in the 1980s when we were blamed villified, persecuted and demonized for the AIDS epidemic. Back then discrimination became acceptable in every part of our society. It took decades to undo the damage, and it is still not fully undone. Yes, we are much more visible, yes we can serve in the military, yes marriage equality is on the march, but let’s not forget that it was not until 2010 that the ban on HIV-infected foreigners being allowed to legally visit the United States was lifted. And gay men are still legally banned from donating blood here, no matter what their status, despite the fact that all donated blood is tested for HIV before being used. And there is still blatant discrimination all across our country. So I don’t think this attempt to link us to another epidemic, another “plague” should be taken lightly. It should be seen in the context of what happened with AIDS. And with the knowledge that those trying to link us to Ebola have an acute awareness of what blaming us for AIDS did to how the public saw us (and in some cases still sees us)… worldwide. Even our “friends” can make statements that are at bsst misguided. Governor Andrew Cuomo defending his (ill-conceived) order that anyone entering New York from somewhere they may have had contact with Ebola be quarantined for twenty-one days, said that he was old enough to remember when the AIDS epidemic hit, and he was determined to not let that kind of panic happen again. Was he implying that had he been Governor back then he would have quarantined anyone who might have had contact with someone who was HIV positive? Our gains are all very fragile.

It is easy to dismiss the rants of individuals we deem to be crazy, or way outside the mainstream… but what if they aren’t acting individually? What if this a coordinated (albeit, loosely coordinated) international attack on the LGBT community? What if that is the reason the same talking points are popping up over and over all over the world? What if, as we either ignore them or laugh at them, they are quietly growing their base (ignoring basic facts and science is nothing new to them), waiting for the right moment, the right confluence of events to let them explode?

It’s not paranoia if somebody’s really after you.


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