Queer: May 2002 Archives

Things are looking up a bit for the gay or lesbian partners of those lost in New York and Washington September 11, but not everyone is here to see it.

The emergency funds made available after Sept. 11 came too late for Mike Lyons of Jersey City, who saw his partner of 18 years, John Keohane, killed by falling debris as the two fled the collapsing towers. Mr. Lyons, unemployed and suffering from multiple sclerosis, was slow to apply for financial assistance, and was running out of money when he committed suicide on March 1.

I tried to interest a number of people in that story back in March, but no one was interested. One reporter replied that he and his employer regarded such a suicide as a sensitive, private matter and so hesitated to report someone's decision to take their own life.

I could not agree with the sentiment even then, and I'm not even a news reporter. I thought such an attitude was really not that different from the media conspiracy of silence when it comes to the private lives of celebrities (if the celebrity is gay).

It's official! Only those legally part of the heterosexual system can be heroes. Wednesday the House Republican majority killed a bill, passed unanimously in the Senate, which would have extended death benefits to the survivors of gay chaplain Mychal Judge and nine other public safety officers who died during the attacks on September 11. The ten are the only public-safety officers killed in the attacks who have no "immediate family."

Under current law, only parents, spouses or children of public-safety officers who died in the Sept. 11 attacks are eligible to receive the standard $250,000 in federal death benefits.

Sources said the measure was shelved because of some lawmakers' concerns over the potential cost due to its precedent-setting nature, while others objected to the bill's recognition of the victims' "domestic partners."

George Burke, of the International Association of Firefighters, said it was an outrage to deny "recognition for fallen heroes."

"We're very frustrated here. We're very angry," said William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

Two men, two stories.

The Boston Achbishop conceals felonies and exposes (real) children to the predations of child molesters, but that's ok with the Pope in Rome. The Milwaukee Achbishop* has an ongoing consensual relationship with an adult, and he's thrown out immediately.

Law in Boston is apparently stright and reactionary; Weakland in Milwaukee is gay and progressive. It's was a no-brainer, and business as usual, for the leaders of this sexist, autocratic cult.

*The best account appears only on the "premium" (view the entire article only for a fee), Salon site, where it is made clear in The witch hunt against Archbishop Weakland that the relationship in question was intimate and lengthy, yet regulary punctured by the younger man's venality and, ultimately, the successful blackmailing of the man who loved him.

What's clear is that the meticulous reporting of sexual abuse by the
Boston Globe -- swinging a wrecking ball through a wall of silence
behind which the cries of the innocent were smothered lest they
interfere with business as usual -- is in danger of giving way to
sweeping persecution of gay priests. The Marcoux affair, and the
slipshod reporting of his accusations by ABC, suggest it's open season.

"Finally victims will be rehabilitated -- even if many are already dead," said a campaigner friday, aparently with no irony, after Germany's parliament passed legislation allowing around 50,000 gay men prosecuted by the Nazis because of their sexuality to be pardoned, 57 years after the end of the Nazi regime.

Silence earlier meant concentration camp, sometimes death, and after the war, very often continued imprisonment, for the victims of heterosexism.

Anti-gay measures passed in 1935 formed part of a Nazi philosophy that deemed homosexuals alien to the state's aim to create a "super-race."

"The new state ... must firmly counter all unnatural sexual urges," the preamble to the 1935 law said, singling out gay men.

If found guilty, victims faced up to 10 years in prison or concentration camps, where thousands died. Other gay men were forcibly sterilized or subjected to medical experiments.

The legislation remained unchanged on Germany's statute books until 1969.

It's not easy for Americans to grasp complex political concepts, especially in this wonderful age of concensus, but Richard Goldstein offers to help us to understand a man who definitely did not fit into our simple categories.

The anxiety that still surrounds homosexuality in this culture is what makes our gay right so brittle, and so set against any queer who doesn't meet the standard of respectability. But the saga of Pim Fortuyn shows what can happen in a society where the energies of gay people are unleashed. The potential for leadership asserts itself, and if the result isn't always pretty, call it an unintended consequence of success. The goal of the gay movement is to liberate gay people. What they do with their freedom is something else again.

Certainly Taiwan has one up on us at least in this issue, but the argument and the teminology used in this latest development is as idiosyncratic as it is weird.

Defence Minister Tang Yiau-ming told government lawyers that the ban against military police candidates with "sexual orientation impairment" would be dropped because "the military preserves the security of all citizens, including homosexuals," according to a report by the Taipei Times.
Why can't we say the same about the protection offered by our military? But let's keep out the phrase, "sexual orientation impairment."

Before moving to New York in 1985 I spent twenty years in the distant, yet not-so-provincial, province of Rhode Island, and even in 1965 every faggot with a pulse knew about the notorious promiscuous sexual adventures of the leading American Catholic churchman of the day, as well as his very special nickname, "Franny Spellman."

Shoulderchip has tripped over Michaelangelo Signorile's piece in the New York Press resurrecting a story of Roman Catholic Church hypocrisy which never really went anywhere in a more "gentlemanly" journalism era, but which today should interest, if not fascinate, most anyone who can read.

Broadcast this as widely as you can!

This page is an archive of entries in the Queer category from May 2002.

previous archive: Queer: April 2002

next archiveQueer: June 2002