Queer Identity Politics (30 Years Ago) Part 3

Part 3:

Hooray for Jerry Falwell

Written by Pat Gourley about 1982-never published

The recent visit this spring to Denver by Jerry Falwell and company was initially very frightening but as I’ve had time to process it I think he could be the best thing that’s happened to the gay/lesbian people of this country. We will need to deal with the challenge he is presenting to us in a more creative way than we did with Anita Bryant and others who have sought to rub us out in the seventies.

  Many of us are refusing to take Falwell very seriously just as we didn’t take Ronald Reagan very seriously. It behooves us to be cognizant of the fact that Ronald Reagan was elected with only about 25% of the potentially eligible electorate. You don’t need a majority, moral or otherwise, to create sweeping changes with profound implications for the masses of people in this country.

  Granted – Jerry Falwell may very well be representing a “moral minority” but they are well organized, purposeful and powerful way beyond their numbers. Most significantly for us they are quite clear and very uncompromising around the issue of homosexuality. It is a crime. Mr. Falwell was very specific, bless his little heart, in delineating our status in a future “moral America”.  “It (homosexuality) is no more a crime than dishonesty, theft or any other crime”.

  It is vital that we understand correctly what Falwell is babbling. The “moral majority” is saying that if your sexual expression is homosexual you are a criminal – period. Whether you are publically “avowed” or “flaunting it” doesn’t matter with this crowd.

  How much more refreshing and potentially growth enhancing for us to be finally confronted by someone honestly uncompromising with their feeling about queers for a change. Jerry Falwell, brothers and sisters, is going to make us either shit or get off the pot. The “moral majority” isn’t going to buy the bit about us being no different from them except for what we do in bed. You can be as “responsible” and strait assimilated as you want but they are still going to come knocking at your door to haul you off to be born again or worse. Fortunately for us in the long run Jerry and the boys haven’t realized just how ready many of us are to assimilate right into the mainstream of American culture. If allowed to assimilate on their terms, all the while they are defining our identities for us; we really wouldn’t be any threat to their status quo.

  The challenge presented to us by Falwell can be met uncreatively (i.e. with another attempt to try and educate straits to the non-truth that we really are just like them –ugh!) or it can be dealt with in a growth-enhancing manner that will lead us to new insights about our gay/lesbian natures. The neat thing about Falwell is that he’s going to make it difficult for us to continue the pattern of assimilation laid down by the gay rights movement of the 1970’s.

  The past decade has been spent internalizing the idea that the essence of gayness is a certain set of sexual acts one performs with someone else of the same gender. We, especially the gay male community, have spent the past ten years emerging into an identity that is essentially hetero-male derived and defined. We have allowed the dominant hetero culture to tell us who we are rather than attempt to answer this vital question for ourselves. Many politicians, particularly liberal-left ones, have been all too willing for us to assimilate our energies behind their hetero-male interpretations of how the world works. These people who gladly welcome us into their “movements” with statements like “What you do in the privacy of your home/bedroom is certainly your business” or “Your sexuality certainly doesn’t matter to me” are infinitely more sapping of our revolutionary energies than Jerry Falwell will ever be.

  Luckily for us Jerry and the M&M’s (moral majority-ites – by the way they do melt n your hand if you can get them to let you hold on to them tightly) have seen through our poor attempts at being strait and still see us as queer. So we need to take our cue from the M&M’s and own the fact that we really are QUEER and can be a tremendous threat too much that they hold dear. We need to start exploring and celebrating the fact that the truly non-objectifying way we are capable of loving one another will bring the institutionalized order of Falwell Family Fascism crashing down.

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