Yesterday, a FaceBook friend posted a video showing a fundamentalist/pentacostal preacher in Arizona, Pastor Steve Anderson. The video presents two separate diatribes by this ignoramus: the first is a virulent, hate-filled, hysterical diatribe against “faggots,” a word he uses purposefully. Among other things, this dangerous man says that gay people should be put to death because God hates them and God’s word (in Leviticus) calls for that punishment. He also says that all gay men (he doesn’t seem interested in Lesbians) are pedophiles and recruiters for the gay cause. As proof of his recruitment theory, he notes that every day there are more and more people announcing that they are gay. Coming out, then, has its downside, apparently: every time some gay person has the immense courage to leave the closet, this satan uses that courage against us. He says we are sick and spreaders of sickness.
The second diatribe is against the President. He hates President Obama almost as much as he hates gay people. He says that he prays that President Obama either will be killed or will get brain cancer and die.
At first, I didn’t listen to the entire video. I was so upset by the first few minutes that I just stopped it and went on my friend’s FB page and ranted. After a few minutes, I deleted my rant and went back to listen to the entire filthy mess. If you have the stomach for it, and if you – like me – suffer from self-destructive impulses, then you can find the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_im7wh2Hz7U&feature=youtu.be.
I was awake until about 5 am this morning, tossing and turning and thinking about that man and this question: Why does this man upset me so much? Other gay men listened to the video and saw the hate and the man for what they are: irrelevant, hate–filled, and obsessed. One or two believe that the depth of this man’s hatred hints at the possibility that the asshole himself is gay. So why was I so upset?
These are the images that flooded my mind after listening to this bucket of sleaze:
I remembered being 4 or 5 years old and at the home of the woman who watched my brother and me after school. Her husband came home from work and emptied his lunch pail. He hadn’t eaten his banana. He gave the banana to my brother. I asked if I could have part of it, because I loved (and still love) bananas. The man told me that he wasn’t going to give anything to a sissy.
I remembered my good childhood friend, Roberta. She and I shared a love of books and dolls. She used to invite me to her house to play dolls with her, something I really enjoyed. One day, when I was about 8 or 9, we were playing dolls and her father came in the back door and walked through to the living room where we were playing. I looked up and greeted him, as did Roberta. He said hello to Roberta and then gave me a mean look, which he held for what seemed like 5 minutes, and then shook his head and left the room. I remember Roberta said that her father didn’t like it that I played with her dolls.
I remember being 11 or 12, and walking down the street to a friend’s house after dark one night. The man who lived across the street from us was working in his yard as I walked on the sidewalk next to his yard. He called my name, and I stopped. He said, “You know, Eddie, you’re turning out to be a goddamned queer.” I didn’t say anything back to him. Instead, I walked around the block and back to my house. I told my mother what the man had said, and she said, “You shouldn’t be such a sissy. That’s why he said what he said. He just wants to help you.”
I remember being 12 or 13. During the summer, we visited my mother’s family in Western Pennsylvania near Erie. My cousin, Carol, and I were in her bedroom listening to and lip-synching with “Cry Me a River,” by Julie London, and our performances were full of drama. Carol’s father, my mother’s brother, came into the room to tell us it was time to go to bed. He then told me that I should be outside playing with the boys, not in the house playing around with “girlie music.” He said I was a big sissy and that, when I got to high school, the other boys were going to beat the shit out of me. I had learned by this time not to tell my mother when people, even her own brother, said these things to me.
Throughout my young years, I don’t remember really caring what adults thought about me. My brother, my playmates in the neighborhood, and my cousins, seem to accept me as I was, and I had a good old flamboyant time of it. When I got to be 12 or 13, however, and started to have sexual thoughts about boys, what other people said bothered me a lot. I remember looking forward every week to going to Mass on Sunday. Kids were supposed to go to the kids’ Mass at 8:15. That was a High Mass, with beautiful music, chanting, pretty vestments, Latin, and God. As I became more and more convinced that there was something about me that made people not like me, I came more and more to rely on God as my “shelter and refuge.” At Mass on Sunday, and when I said my rosary at night, I was fine, and loved, and accepted for what I was. Sexuality wasn’t preached about in my parish. No one said to me that God hates fags. God remained my best friend until. . .
I had to confess “sins” having to do with other boys. Then, I found out from the confessors that God also didn’t like what I was. I remember the day and the hour when I made up my mind that I hated what I was and wanted not to be that way any more. It was during the 8:15 Mass on January 1, 1961. I made a vow that I kept for a long, long time: I promised God after Communion that I would try always to be like the other boys and that I wouldn’t “do those things” anymore. I went into my closet, and didn’t come out for almost 30 years.
When I heard that asshole preacher yesterday, I remembered all that. These memories flooded my mind as they do now and then when I encounter anti-gay hatred. I’m not sure why this particular asshole made a stronger impression on me than other assholes like Fred Phelps and Pope Benedict. But he did. It hurt to hear that hatred.
Can you imagine a young gay boy in that pastor’s church? He doesn’t have a choice about being there; his parents choose the church and make him go. He sits in the pew and hears this man’s rabid hatred of faggots, and he knows that the “Reverend” is talking about him. He hears the preacher say that God hates gay people and that God’s instructions are that gay people should be killed. He hears the pastor say all those horrible things about gay people – about him – and his hope of a loving, accepting God vanishes.
This “pastor” is evil. He is endangering the lives of kids who are supposed to be under his “pastoral care.” He is giving the parents of gay kids ammunition to use when they want to scare their kids straight. This “pastor” is sick, but far worse, he is a serious danger to others. If God exists, I hope God will deal with the pastor who does such horrible things in God’s name.