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Archive for the ‘Protests & Pickets’ Category

If I were the media, this is how I would have written the story. In fact, this is how I wrote the story for The Norman Queer Alliance’s Queer Zine. I submitted the copy today.

(Norman, Oklahoma) — On December 3rd, 2009 Sarah Palin rolled into the Hastings in Norman in her big blue bus to sign copies of her book “Going Rouge”. Complete with a DJ playing a variety of music from rock to country, the event had a rock concert type of atmosphere. With temperatures below freezing and a brisk north by northwest wind of 6 to 15 MPH, it was a an event for those committed to a viewpoint. Estimates of the crowd size vary wildly depending on who you talk to, but most peg the number of supporters present as being more than a thousand and possibly as many as two thousand.

David White, a Palin supporter from Stillwater, Okla. told NewsOK’s Damon Fontenot “…shes done so much for the party, rejuvenating the base, and its been one of the greatest things we have had since Regan”. Many of the other supporters interviewed in various media seemed to echo White’s sentiments. At one point, supporters unveiled a large tarp that had messages written on it that encouraged Palin to run for the presidency in 2012. It was signed by several people. Some supporters held signs saying “We Love Sarah Palin” with red lipstick kiss.

Sarah Palin was expected to speak at the event, and at one point there was a small platform erected for her to speak from, but upon arrival she shook a few hands and went inside without a word. NewsOK stated that the several protesters holding signs may be to blame for Palin’s decision to dispense with the speech. Most estimates as to the number of protesters put the number somewhere between several dozen and as high as seventy-five. The protest received coverage from a number of news outlets across the state including News 9, KOCO-TV, Tulsa World, The Oklahoma Daily, The Oklahoman, News OK, Gossip-Boy and an iReport on CNN. Also present were documentary film makers producing an upcoming documentary called The Reddest State about the status of politics in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman reported “A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air…” in a December 4 piece entitled For Sarah Palin fans, a signing bonus”. In a memo on his Facebook account, protest organizer and Norman Queer Alliance member Keith Kimmel pointed out that there were far more than a dozen protesters shown in NewsOK’s own footage and accused the paper of “…continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals.”. Kimmel stated that he and other attendees are drafting a letter to the Daily Oklahoman to call them on the inaccurate reporting.

Victor Gorin, reporter and ad sales rep for publisher StarNews, Ltd. which publishers the regional queer newspaper MetroStar News was interviewed by KOCO-TV’s Mark Opgrande. Gorin was quoted as saying “Well, the mood is pretty upbeat on both sides…” and added “…overall, I’m glad to see people being involved.” Gorin held a sign “Lesbians United Against Hate” with a picture of Palin. Catlin Frazier was interviewed by News OK and said “Well, its not nearly as cold as the inauguration, so I am happy to stand out here. And represent that even though I live in Oklahoma, and every county here went for McCain/Palin, that there is still liberals in this state, and our voices have been outshouted frequently and I’m here to represent those people.”

The protesters included everyone from a group of guys from Norman High School to college students to older folks. Signs held include “Don’t Palin My Norman”, “Gay is OK”, “Palin – Limbaugh’s Favorite Parrot”, “Shame on Sally KKKern”, “Go Home, Take Sally With You”, “Palin Hates Equality”, “Ignorance is Bliss” and “Gay Pride”. References to Sally Kern were made because the Oklahoma representative from House District 84 was among those in line to get a book signed by Palin. Kern, well known for her publicly made homophobic remarks, is almost universally disliked in the gay community and some media coverage suggested that the protest was as much about protesting Sally Kern as it was Sarah Palin.

The event resulted in no arrests or citations and except for a couple of incidents of name calling, it was a peaceful event that ended without incident. It is, however, likely that more than one attendee succumbed to frostbite.

Update: A version of this post appeared in the January, 2010 edition of Metro Star News as a story. I was credited as the author.

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For those unaware, The Daily Oklahoman was named America’s Worst Daily Newspaper by the Columbia Journalism Review in 1999. I believe I recall hearing that they have won this distinction more than once. Read the article for a laundry list of reasons why this is the case. You’ll read the history of how the paper has fought to be led into the ground by its ownership and the manner in which the Gaylord family smears its name all over the front page regularly for non-newsworthy events like a child smears feces on a wall. In fact, the newspaper is often refereed to locally as The Daily Disappointment.

Well, I have one more reason to add to the pile of why The Daily Oklahoman sucks: they lie their asses off in news coverage. In recent coverage of Sarah Palin’s visit to Norman to sign her book, they said:

A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air saying “Winners never quit, quitters never win” and “Gay is OK.”

Now – as those who were there know – there were about seventy-five protesters at the Sarah Palin picket that I recently organized. Did I count them? No, I did not. It could have been sixty-five, or even fifty-five. But hell, you can count more than twelve faces and signs in the Oklahoman’s very own news video coverage which they published! It wasn’t about a dozen. Not even close. Hell, every other photo of this event I have seen shows far more than a dozen people present.

This has to be one of the best examples I can find of coverage that was purposefully skewed by this paper. I forgave KOCO-TV for their story, so why is it different with the Daily Oklahoman? Because TV news is made on the fly and once you run a story, you can’t update it and you can’t go back and redo it to present a better angle. But in the newspaper business, you have all night to get the story right until newsroom deadline anyway. And obviously, they weren’t at deadline when there were clearly more than a dozen folks there as evidenced by their other conflicting coverage. This story wasn’t published until the day after the protest.

I think this is just another example of how the Daily Bigot (as I call it) is continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals. If none of the other media had mentioned that gays were picketing, they wouldn’t have either. But since every other outlet ran with the story, they had to say something. So they just minimized it to the greatest possible extent, by saying that only about a dozen homos came out. If you can’t ignore it, then minimize it. I and other event attendees will be writing a joint letter to the editors of The Daily Oklahoman calling them on their mistake in the near future.

But not to worry, folks. Today, The Daily Disappointment ran a story which began as follows: “New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman was awarded Monday the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication.” Oh, boy. I’d really be worried if that was me. I think thats Mr. Friedman’s career dissipation light flashing.

P.S. – Special thanks to Victor Gorin for bringing this matter to my attention.

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Some might be surprised to learn that the Sally Kern/Sarah Palin picket was the first major event that I have single-handedly organized without any real assistance. Sure, there were those who helped get the word out and print our signs, but as far as making the decisions, this time I did it all by myself.

To be sure, this event kept me awake several nights worrying. Would it rain? Would it be cold? Would it be too windy? Would it rain while being cold and windy? Would the police give us issues? Would a riot erupt? What would I do if a riot erupted? How can I make sure it remains peaceful? Will there be trouble-starters and if so how will they be dealt with? Have I done everything that I can to ensure participant safety? How can I generate positive, favorable media coverage for the event?

These are some of the questions that weigh on you when you organize an event. Keep in mind, this event was not anything elaborate, it was a picket with signs. Show up, hold signs. We didn’t have to feed anyone, put on a concert or anything else. All we had to do – for the most part – was show up. Not that making that a reality was any small undertaking as anyone who has been any part of anything in Oklahoma will tell you.

Like most intelligent people doing something for the first time, there is always that one big lesson that you take away from the whole thing. Something that you recall and say “Ya know, if I could do it all over again, I sure as hell would change [insert lesson here].” My lesson for this one was as follows: never, ever show up to your event numerous hours early and make yourself available for the press. I decided to show up at about 4:30 PM for an event scheduled to begin at 7 PM to catch any stragglers and early birds. Since the media was already there, I gave interviews and lots of them. Having nothing else to do, it seemed like a good idea.

A few hours later, I would learn the error of my ways. I gave an interview to KOCO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City. They ended up running a lengthy little piece on me, in which I was painted as the lone wolf holding a sign, despite the fact that 75 people or so came out. While I don’t mind being the only one to attend an event (if I put an event on, if no one else shows up, the show still goes on) when the interview closes with the anchor mentioning that its a one man show, it does tend to discredit the event in the eyes of the public.

Moreover KOCO’s reporters never came back to get footage of us massing as they said they would. Now, I am not claiming that KOCO tried to skew coverage, because they do have pictures of many protesters in the form of stills in a gallery on their website. I think they never got back to us with the camera because they only had one cameraman and anchor and a small support staff, I think they were too busy shooting images of Palin and such which arguably was the larger story at that time. But what ran on TV presents the illusion of one nutjob coming out and waving a sign.

So the lesson here is to not talk to the press until the event is in full swing. That way, the story they get and run with matches whats really going on in the field. This is an error in judgment that I wont be repeating.

P.S. – I actually admire the way KOCO covered this event. It was innovative. Thats to say, they went two levels back. They have an anchor and a camera man producing the video, then they have someone else taking stills of that going on. Its like having reporters reporting on reporters. For this event, they had a Live Blog on their website so folks could stay at home (where it was much warmer) and watch whats going on in real time. Unfortunately for me, they published a photo of me giving the interview described above (with a caption underneath reading “The image you see is Reporter Mark Opgrande and [Paul Harrop] interviewing Keith Kimmel. Keith is a protester who says he organized a group of folks on facebook who aren’t happy to have Sarah Palin in Norman.”) so I now have a permanent reminder of this lesson learned.

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So on December 3rd, 2009 – at about 6:30 PM CST – it happened. She arrived, big blue tour bus and all. She would be Sarah Palin. Sally Kern also came, but for once, Sally was not the topic of the day and no one really seemed to notice or care that she was there. She had about 1,000 supporters there to welcome her, and about 75 of us. Us would be the protesters. Some of those present that I know of included Floyd Martin, Caitlin Frazier, John Cloud and Hunter Phillips. If I missed anyone and you are on facebook, friend me, then message me and I will tag you.

Many of the media interviewed us before the bulk of the protesters showed up. So be sure to take a look at photos taken by our folks which provide an in-depth look at the event and closeups of alot of signs.

There have been rumors (started by NewsOK) circulating that Palin planned to speak but canceled the speech because we decided to picket the event. So for those of you who claimed that our protest would be pointless, take this proof and shove it. Not sure if this is true or not, but if it is, its safe to say she heard our message. Here is the news coverage of the event. I will update this as I locate more coverage, if you know of something that’s not on here, please send me a message with a link. Newest coverage will be added to the top of the list.

Oklahoma Gazette: Sarah’s Circus – Mention of protesters towards the end. Print edition had two nice color photos of picketers.
Gossip-Boy: The Dumb One is in the Middle – Homepage Photo Gallery.
The Oklahoma Daily: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – OU Student Rachel Singley mentioned and quoted. The print edition had a picture of an unnamed protester next to the Palin photo. The story ran on the front page, above the fold.
CNN: Sara Palin in Norman Oklahoma – CNN iReport.
Tulsa World: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – Showed the AP photo of the picketers with a brief mention on page A18. Click Newspaper View to see how it looked on the printed page.
News 9: Photo Gallery – Several pictures of the protesters.
News 9: Palin Book Signing Draws Big Crowd – Interview with MetroStar’s Victor Gorin.
Associated Press: Photo – AP has a photo of our protesters.
News OK: NewsOK Video – Caitlin Frazier interviewed. Great pan shot of the protesters.
News OK: Photo Gallery – One early picture of us starting to mass.
Norman Transcript: Palin makes book tour stop in Norman – Paul Weider, a Norman High School senior mentioned and quoted.
News 9: Palin Welcomed by Hundreds of Fans in Norman – Brief mention of the picketers, coverage starts at about 1:40 in the video.
Channel 5: Protestor Talks About Palin Visit – Interview of me before the picketers got there (it was still light outside).

If you have photos, videos or whatever of the event, please send me links via message. You can e-mail photos to keithontap@gmail.com. Thanks to all of you who came our and made this event a success. While a number of folks would have rather you stayed home, you braved the absolutely frigid temperatures to come out and make a difference. I love you for it. I don’t care what anyone says, our gay community is beautiful and we should be proud of it. And we should show it off at every opportunity we have.

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For those who aren’t aware, I have organized a picket of Sarah Palin’s book signing in Norman. As with any public event, you always have a few naysayers and those with uneducated viewpoints. But I am really tired of hearing from a certain class of them right now. I have mentioned them before in past notes, but clearly they aren’t getting the message. So allow me to debunk the falsehoods about Sarah Palin and my picket once and for all.

Palin Picket Myth #1: If We Don’t Show Up, Palin Will Get Less Attention

Dream on. If picketers don’t show up, she’ll get even more attention. Anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot, uneducated, burying their head in the sand, taking queues from Cimmaron Alliance Foundation or a combination of the above.

You see, the way the news media (which is coming regardless – I have talked to alot of editors and station managers region wide in the last few days, all of them have it on their agenda to cover either themselves or through their affiliate network) works is this: they allocate slots of airtime (or column inches in the printed world) to stories they know for a fact are going to be runnable. They also usually lead the newscast with them and fill in with other stories as they happen. A former vice-presidential candidate coming to the area is one of those types of stories.

So lets say the stations give her a three minutes or 180 second slot. This is probably the amount of time she will actually get. Most news stories are either 30 or 60 second slots. And the newspapers give her, oh, 30 column inches. Now, if no protesters come, the only thing to write about and talk about and show photos of is Palin. Keep in mind the story is going to be written or aired regardless. If you don’t honestly believe that, like I said… time to wake up. Now, lets assume some protesters come and make alot of noise and the newscasts spend 60 seconds talking to them and the papers five column inches writing about them.

Guess what? That’s space and airtime that would have carried a Palin-sponsored message, but now carries our message. Palin just lost attention. Her message got diluted. And since its common to write/talk first about the event and then about any picketers, we also get the last word on the topic. People have short attention spans and short memories, first and last impressions are most powerful and most recalled.

Palin Picket Myth #2: Sarah Palin Isn’t Really Going to Run in 2012

She may not. But most experts feel she is getting ready for a run based on the areas she is visiting. Most areas are in battleground swing states that make or break presidential elections.

Palin Picket Myth #3: Sarah Palin Can’t Win in 2012

This is just good, old fashioned stupidity showing its ass. This same kind of thinking gave us George HW Bush for a president and Sally Kern for a representative. At other times in history, it gave us Adolf Hitler and two world wars. After all, we all knew Hitler wouldn’t really kill all those Jews, right? He was just joking about it in Mein Kempf. Obviously, he did kill the Jews and those who underestimated him were clearly proven wrong.

The fact of the matter is many Republicans find Sarah Palin to be sexy and intelligent. Right or wrong, that’s what they think. Many have compared her to Rush Limbaugh. If Rush were to run, do you think he could win? Most conservatives consider him a hero. He wouldn’t even have to work for their votes. Could he turn a few disgruntled Democrats and promise a few favors to various faction leaders to secure enough votes to take the cake? Yeah, he would have a damn good shot of being successful if he tired. But he has refused to run in the past, despite pressure to do so. Palin hasn’t.

Sarah Palin is a dumb, hateful, stupid bitch. That much we all know and most of us agree on. But it doesn’t matter what we think. People we have felt exactly this way about before have run for office and won. But the party has shown its willing to support her. In fact, she became more popular than her running mate, a sign of a dangerous candidate who is poised to break out of the box and go on a tear. I am sure there were plenty of people who thought Hitler would never go anywhere as a politician too. Opps.

I don’t ignore potential problems, I look for ways to rid myself of them sooner rather than later. And allowing Palin to win the oval office and then dealing with her only then is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard in my life. This is a problem that should be nipped in the bud now.

Palin Picket Myth #4: If We Picket Sarah Palin Now, Barak Obama Cant Easily Get Re-Elected

I have been contacted by several members of the Democratic party who I won’t name (not yet, anyway) who have asked me to please call off the picket. Their line of thinking: if Palin decides not run, Obama might not get re-elected because the Republicans may run a more moderate, intelligent candidate who can spin more convincingly.

First off, Obama has been a worthless president and just as bad of a liar as Palin. So him not being re-elected may be a good thing. But even if we assume that Obama is worth being re-elected, why would we let a dangerous homophobe like her have a shot at getting the largest platform in the world from which to spew her hateful rhetoric? I have a better idea. Lets not let either one of them on the ballot.

Palin Picket Myth #5: The Republican Party is on the Decline, They Can’t Get Palin Elected

Yeah, right. Republicans still have many, many die hard supporters. Most of them are in rural America which controls a huge amount of electoral votes in key swing states. Republicans are still the favorite party of big business and its megacorps that have all the money, not the Democrats welfare moms, illegal immigrants and environmental groups. Need we be reminded that a nuclear bomb, even after having been deactivated and turned off for a time, is still a very dangerous item indeed. The same with the GOP. Despite the fact that they have some issues in their house, they can still raise money and they can still get candidates elected to office.

Palin Picket Myth #6: Everyone Sees Through Palin’s Lies, No One Will Elect Her

Gee, then how did she become the governor of Alaska? Somebody must have voted for her. And lets remember what a couple of hundred million dollars in spin and media buys can accomplish for a candidate. People like Carl Rove are pros at turning bullshit into golden soundbites. And the last time I checked, Rove was on the GOPs team. He damned good at what he does.

Palin Picket Myth #7: Even If Elected, She’s Too Stupid to Get Anything Done

That’s what alot of people thought about George HW Bush and look at all he managed to get done. He destroyed the economy, started two wars, toppled a foreign government, gave away billions to his banker buddies, exported millions of jobs and raised taxes. If that’s what a stupid person can accomplish, I’d hate to a smart one in action.

The bottom line is this: Sarah Palin is a growing threat to freedom now and later. If you sit on your ass and pretend like you are solving problems by ignoring her, then you are only making matters worse. Silence is consent. If you don’t like what you see going on around you and you say nothing to oppose it, you are deemed to have consented to the activities that took place in full view of you. So in other words, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

I’m tired of talking to people who are part of the problem. I don’t care what you have to say, nor do I care what you think. Go away. Leave me alone. Spread your negativity elsewhere. Sit on your ass and while I fight for the rights you don’t deserve, continue to try and discourage participation and turn folks against steps undertaken for real change.

Because together, you “lets pretend like she can’t win and doesn’t hurt anyone” idiots are undermining the cause for rights of all gay people, including me. And you know what? I take that pretty fucking personally. So don’t get upset when I call you on it.

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Three Cheers for Lazy, Good for Nothing People

These are the kind of blog posts that make my phone ring right after they are posted. Usually, the person calling me tells me I am alienating support, dividing the community and so on. Well, anyone who knows me a little bit knows that if I think something needs said, I’m gonna say it and I don’t really care who it pisses off. Its pretty much become my trademark. It keeps me from getting invited to alot of fancy shindigs and keeps me off a good many holiday card mailing lists. Oh well, less holiday cards means trees saved anyway.

But I am not here to be Mr. Popular. I’m not running for Man of the Year. And I haven’t been nominated for Mr. Nice Guy, the last time I checked. I am a 27-year old gay man who lives in a state where too many of its inhabitants would rather see me dead, which routinely elects officials to office who feel I am not even human and have a government that on all levels wants to deny my rights at every turn.

So it may come as a massive earth-shattering surprise to some people that I don’t quantify my existence by a measure other than how many people like me – or if Mr. High and Mighty who sits on the Board (or owns) of whatever Gay, Inc. establishment happens to be most revered at the moment – likes me or thinks I am a great guy or whatever.

Could it be that maybe, just maybe, I am the way I am because I think its whats going to get my desired results? Maybe I have a different idea about how things should be done. And since we’ve tried it their way for what, the last 2,000 or so years, maybe we could try something new and see if it works better that way? Yeah, maybe thats it.

A Kick in the Ass

The other night, I had a wonderful conversation with a man from Jackson, Mississippi. Every once in a while I have an interaction with someone who makes me think that what I do is worthwhile. That perhaps, despite the mental and emotional toll it takes on me (and yes, it is taxing) maybe what I do actually accomplishes something and is somehow worthwhile. So who is this person? Well, his name is James Paul Johnson. He is a transgendered man. He and I share a few things, one of them is the fact that we firmly believe in moving gay rights in our respective geographical areas forward. We talked extensively about the topics and ideals covered in this post.

While Mississippi and Oklahoma are hundreds of miles apart from each other, there are many commonalities. If you’re sitting in someplace like Chicago or San Francisco or New York City this post may not resonate with you that much. It might be hard to see things from my vantage point. In such areas, when something needs to be organized or gotten done, its relatively easy to make it happen. You get people together, you talk about it, make a plan of attack and put it into play. Cities built in days, mountains moved in minutes. No sweat.

STP: Same Ten People

Paul Thompson, the former co-chair of OKC Pride, Inc. did not see eye to eye with me on a great many things. He is an older man from a different time and a bygone era. But he is intelligent and while somewhat annoying at times, there are some things that he gets that few others manage to. One such thing was a philosophy he shared with me one time which he called “STP”. It stands for Same Ten People.

He was basically saying that everything that needed to be done in our area – if it got done – was done by the same ten people. It was the same ten people who sit on all the boards, make all the efforts, show up to all the meetings and by and large do everything. What we did not talk about is the fact that the STP also get very set in their ways and sometimes tend to exclude when they should include. For obvious reasons, this is undesirable when you are trying to advocate for civil rights. Because ten people simply cannot do it all. It takes far more than ten, or twenty or fifty or a hundred folks. It takes everyone, working together at the same time and from the same page to make some things happen.

The Sarah Palin Connection

So I recently decided to picket Sarah Palin’s book signing in Norman. I did it not because I disagree with her right to sell her book or even out of a personal hatred for her. I do not like the woman, that much I do admit. I did it because I know she is getting ready to run for the White House in 2012 and I don’t want to see that. Her views on homosexuality offend me and I have every confidence that she would use her office to represent her right-wing wacko constituents exclusively.

Almost immediately, I start getting messages and phone calls and “encouragement” from folks to not do this event. I was informed that “the community” (whoever the fuck that is – oh I’ll get to this little gem in a minute) had decided that it would be best if we did not respond to Palin and give her attention. Some Democrats want to let her think she has a clear shot at the oval office so that she runs and loses, allowing a re-election of Barack Obama to be a slam dunk. They are afraid that my little rally may discourage her from running.

I’m not going to get into whether or not another four years of Obama would be a good thing or a bad thing here. But what I am going to ask is this: so fucking what? Sarah Palin is a snake in the grass. She is a terrible person with terrible morals. She is a homophobe and she has shown by her speech and actions that she is incapable of representing all of her constituents fairly and equally. Its imperative that every elected official represent all of their constituents – yes, even the ones who are gay – equally. I don’t want her in my White House and I think I have good reason not to.

The bottom line is that these are my civil rights that they either want to play political football with or are too lazy to defend, depending on whether we are talking about the do nothing and good for nothing crowd or the let Obama have a cake walk crowd. Its inappropriate and its insulting to think that I should just sit down, shut up and go along with it. Rather than support me in potentially sparing our nation from having a Sally Kern clone in the White House, they’d rather shout me down.

Déjà Vu

Of course, this would not be the first time I have had to deal with headaches created by those who should be helping organize rather than being an obstruction. My very first experiences with rocking the boat in Oklahoma City gay politics was when I heard that the creeps at Westboro Baptist Church were going to picket Moore High School. I started calling around to see who was going to counter-protest and I was shocked to hear that there was no protest, it had been decided it would be best to ignore WBC and not give them attention.

Well, thankfully the order to stay home – which was originally issued by people connected to Cimmaron Alliance Foundation on information and belief – was ignored and there was a HUGE counter protest. While my video does not do it justice, there were about 2,000 people there from all walks of life to condemn it. I was elated. I talked to all of the media there – including the state newspaper – The Daily Oklahoman. Which is why I was shocked that there was no coverage in the Daily Oklahoman about the issue. Not a single item. The rest of the media was silent on the subject as well. I attributed that to the fact that its a bigot-owned newspaper and at an Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus (OGLPC) meeting I was at, I brought this up and demanded that we as a group write a letter chastising the Oklahoman for not covering what was obviously a newsworthy event. OGLPC voted to approve the letter and send it.

When it wasn’t printed as well, I started asking around. I found out that the chair of that organization – Paul Thompson, ordered the Secretary – Victor Gorin (who is a reporter for Metro Star – the regional gay newspaper) – not to send the letter. The reason? Because The Daily Oklahoman was in on the media blackout with the Cimmaron Alliance assholes and they didn’t want to upset the apple cart. I was livid and resigned my membership in that organization, but not before I had choice words for all involved. Victor and I are still friends as I realize he was in a tough position and made a call to follow an order from a chair and he did report his actions voluntarily so its not like he was hiding it.

Shortly after the Moore High School diabolical, I decided it was time for some changes to be made at OKC Pride, Inc. To make a long story short (you can read the only version of the story over on Gossip Boy – here, here, here, here, here and here.), I found myself being cannibalized by my own gay community and hung out to dry. I eventually resigned that organization as well and wrote it off its prospects for reform and being made useful as hopeless.

The point is this: where I come from, silence is consent. This is a principle of parliamentary law and I believe in it. It means that if you see something going on around you and you don’t speak up in oppositions, then you are deemed to be content with whats going on. Its a fair assumption to make. If you allow something to take place with your knowledge and you say nothing, then you may as well be apart of doing it yourself.

Well, there are some things I wont be a party to. Knowingly undermining gay rights is one of them.

I’ve Wanted to Run Away

At the time the Pride diabolical happened, I wanted to run away. I was scared, hurt and angry all at the same time. I seriously considered moving out of state and changing my name as well as a variety of other cowardly options. Thankfully, I did none of the above. I am a fighter and I don’t give up. I am not used to not having my way and I see no point being a quitter now. As I look back on that incident, I have decided that what does not kill me will make me stronger. I am more effective, more efficient and more useful to myself, others and my causes because of what I have been through.

Lets Clear This Up Right Now

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: there is no gay community. There never has been, there isn’t now and its fair to wonder if there ever will be. What we have instead are hundreds and maybe even thousands of gay people who refuse to do anything for their community that does not involve drinking alcohol. Its hard to get more than a handful to agree on anything and even harder to get more than the STP to show up to a meeting. Regardless of who the cause is or who called the meeting. One of the most respected leaders of this community once remarked to me how hard it was to get folks out even to meetings that are called by this person.

If Richard Ogden (he is the head of Cimmaron Alliance – which I have nothing but contempt for) came to me today and said “Keith, lets change the condition of things here. Real change. No buddies, no holds barred, lets make it happen.” my response would be “Richard, where do I sign on?”. But thats not the way it is here. There are a good number of folks here who simply wont work together no matter what the cause is because of petty disagreements and personal opinions.

Until we get people who are willing to work together for common goals and learn the art of compromise, then we don’t have a gay community. We have a bunch of gay folks who happen to leave somewhat close to each other who meet for drinks. Thats a drinking club, dinner club or social club. Its not a community by any stretch.

If You Don’t Want to Get Involved

If you are one of those people who never wants to get involved but always wants to complain, I’ve got two words for you: fuck you. Stay home. Bitch from your easy chair. Send messages to your friends and encourage them to take your non-researched position on the issue. Do whatever it is that you do that has not done a single god-damned thing for anyone, anywhere at anytime. While you are being a useless bump on a log, I will be out fighting for my rights and by extension yours too.

Quite frankly, I am tired to the traditional Gay, Inc. approach of slow and steady with my civil rights. I want them now, I want them all and I am willing to fight for them right here and right now. I personally don’t want to get married right now, hell, I don’t even have a boyfriend right now. But I would like to have that opinion open to me in the future should I wish to. So gay marriage is an issue that I am concerned about and I feel entitled to comment and take a position on it, which I have done in previous notes.

Yes, you bet I am young, dumb and full of hell fire. I’m impatient and I am demanding. People who wait for good things to come to them will likely be waiting a while. We make our own luck in life. If you’re not actively looking out for your interests, how can you expect others to do so?

I’m Not Always Right – I’ll Listen to Others

Lets be clear, I’m not always right. Not by a long shot. But at least I am doing something to try and make my corner of the world better. Even if its the wrong thing. And I’d rather do the wrong thing than do nothing at all.

Another important note to make is the fact that I will listen to opinions expressed by other folks who also put themselves out there. People like Brittany Novotny, who constantly give of themselves personally, professionally and politically to try and change. I wont always agree with their decision or position, but I will respect them for it and you can bet that when they have something to say about something I am doing, I am going to find the time to listen and carefully consider what they say.

The Bottom Line

I’m going to hold my events and I’m not going away anytime soon. And even if I do go to Boston as discussed, I’ll still be here on a regular basis. If you aren’t out there trying to make a contribution to our struggle, don’t come and yell at me about how I am doing it all wrong. If you have constructive criticism, then please offer it – constructively. If you want to help, then by all means get involved. If you don’t know how to help, then ask. If you respectfully disagree, then do so respectfully. But if you just want to bitch and moan, call someone who cares.

Because we as a species need to get our act together. Right here and right now.

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The Issue: Queer Marriage

I have heard the entire issue of gay marriage debated ad nauseum, like most citizens. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about it because the level of intelligence in the conversation has devolved to the stone ages. Like most political issues of the day, we have a few smart people involved who are making intelligent arguments and looking for real solutions. Then we have them being vastly overshadowed by a factor of ten by the uneducated, ill-informed and sometimes mentally defective masses.

On one hand, we have the religious quacks who think that we are trying to take their pulpits away and break up their happy marriages. Then there are the insecure straight people, who simply can’t handle seeing two guys who love each other kiss in public. Somewhere in there, there is probably a Catholic priest or two gravely worried that his supply of smooth, underage altar boys will be cut off. The religious quacks make up the majority of the against gay marriage folks and thanks to the hysterics of a few preachers abusing their tax exempt statuses, a large majority of the religious public is in hysterics.

On the other side, we have the gay folks and there are several factions here, too. First, there are the I don’t give a shits. These are the same folks who you can’t get to do anything in the gay community and there are a bunch of these. As long as there are still a few bars open and a circuit party every now and again, they don’t give a shit about anything. Sadly, in most gay issues, this is a very large group of people. Our community is very often its own worst enemy and this would not be any exception to that rule to be sure.

Then there is a large group of people who are fighting the right by mobilizing huge grass roots campaigns to run initiatives through the ballot boxes of every state. This group consists of GOTV (Get Out the Vote) folks, PACs (Political Action Committees), Facebook campaigns, protesters, street marchers and every kind of activist you can think of. At the head of this are old-school Gay, Inc. activist organizations like The Human Rights Campaign. We’ve spent alot of money, pounded alot of pavement, knocked alot of doors and burned up more airtime running ads than O.J. Simpson’s murder trial trying to legalize marriage at the ballot box on a state to state basis. What do we have to show for it? One failure after another. Not a single success.

Gee, I dunno, maybe we need to change something.

Queer Marriage: Its About the Benjamins, Stupid

Many people fail to grab whats really at stake here. Gay marriage has never been about getting married. Its not about the cake, the flowers, the ceremony, the marriage license, love or the honeymoon. Its about all of the things that come with marriage. Like health insurance, lower taxes, joint checking accounts, inheritance and spousal benefits at work. These are just a few, but there are many, many more.

Lets not forget divorce, too! You’d think we’d be seeing a huge surge in contributions to pro-marriage campaigns by the trial lawyers associations, since the increase in the need for estate planning services, divorce and litigation would be a boon to the lawyers. Either that, or maybe the lawyers are the smart ones. They do make lots of money and are generally not called stupid. Gee, maybe we’re on to something here. Lets look at this. Maybe they’re saving their money because they realize that under the current plan of attack, we’re not gonna win jack shit.

Ugh oh, I said it. This is not going to get me on Cimmaron Alliance Foundation’s (CAF) holiday card list. I am writing this for a national audience, so I need to keep in mind that not everyone will get my references to the Oklahoma gay activist political landscape. CAF is Oklahoma’s version of HRC. They have raised lots of money and in the past ten years, have both done damn near nothing in terms of moving gay rights forward. But they sure have managed to hold alot of dinner jacket and tie, preach to the choir type gatherings. Oh, and lots of fancy dinners and cocktail parties. I routinely get hammered by various members of the community for calling a spade a spade, as powerful people (like Oklahoma City attorney and wannabe politician Richard Ogden) sit on these organization’s boards.

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

Epic Fail: Gay Rights on Life Support

Gay rights in this country are on life support. We’re under attack from every angle and we’ve hardly prepared to go to war with the establishment. If we don’t wind up getting stuffed back in the closet (or worse) it will be a miracle. Because the race is on to stuff the homos back into their closets before society has to deal with us and acknowledge that yes, despite the fact that we may suck cocks, we are humans too and thus qualify for equal protection under the Constitution.

As a community, we picked a fight with a very powerful enemy (the church) and we are going about it on the basis that the general public (which has been attending public schools for about two hundred years – and significantly dumbed down as a result of it) will examine the facts, determine that homosexuals are people (despite the fact that they engage in some things they’d rather not know about – like cock sucking) deserving of all the same rights as everyone else. Then, the public, after being poked and prodded by the TV ads, news stories on the rallys and GOTV effort, will run to the polls and give homos their rights.

Does this all sound deluded to you? Because it should. Here is a hint: people who believe that a man in the sky controls the world are usually not rational people. In fact, most psychologists (who are unbiased on the subject of religion) will tell you that most religious people could be diagnosed with a mental disorder. In fact, they are not far removed from being insane. And they are especially prone to doing things they would not normally do, especially if they believe that god wants them to, or (worse yet) god is telling them to. One only need study mass murders and serial killers for validation of this fact. Many report that god wanted them or event told them to kill. So is it really surprising that they are willing to take away our rights when their preachers convince them that god wants them to do so?

It shouldn’t come as any huge shock to you if you have been a student of the past. We can look to history to see what religion has allowed stupid people in large groups to accomplish before. A little stroll down memory lane, if you will. It brought Hitler to power, provided for the crusades and allowed Wiccans to be burned at the stake. If they are willing to kill millions of people, do you think they’ll have any qualms with stuffing us in a corner somewhere where they can pretend like we don’t exist.

They ignore the other pages of their bible (remember, the Bible is God’s word – despite the fact that God has been dead for 2,000 years and yet they keep releasing new versions of the bible) that say you should love your neighbor, treat others as you wish to be treated, not judge others and not kill people. They ignore those parts and selectively focus on and then exaggerate the ones they like. And if god is perfect and never makes mistakes, then everyone was made exactly as they were supposed to be. Every person. Including every faggot. Thank you to Queer as Folk character Michael Novotny for giving us this line of thinking. Like George Carlin has observed, these people are full of bullshit.

These people are nuts! Bat shit crazy! There is no reasoning with them! Oh, the truth. Its just so damn inconvenient sometimes!

Setting the Record Straight

And lets get one thing straight, while we are at it. The ballot boxes are not being fixed. In all of the states that have refused gay marriage at the ballot box, its because – gasp – a majority of citizens in said state do not believe that homos should have the right to marry. And yes, they really do believe it! Its not because we didn’t spend enough on TV ads, knock enough doors or hand out enough flyers. We could have spent ten times more and our opposition a hundred times less and the outcome would have still been the same. So we need to stop acting like the there is something wrong with the results. The results reflect the wishes of the people.

Only in the United States of America, we have a Constitution that says ALL people are equal. Even if some would rather certain others not be considered so. And thus, what the majority of the American public thinks about homos being equal doesn’t fucking matter. Thats right, its irrelevant. We need to stop pretending that it does matter by going to the ballot boxes.

Learning from Our Mistakes: Moving Forward

Thankfully, its not too late to pick up the pieces and put together a movement that can rescue our rights and finally end this sad chapter in American history. Below are my ideas on how to resolve the matter.

Option #1: Dismantle Marriage as We Know It

In my opinion, this is the best option. The religious nuts are all in a fervor that letting homos wed will destroy marriage. Lets give them what they want. Thats right, lets take their sacred institution of marriage apart, brick by brick. This fight is really about rights, so lets make it about rights instead of marriage.

  • Get a few single straight and gay people to file a class action lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service and have the tax code declared unconstitutional because it taxes single people at different rates than married people, a violation of equal protection.
  • Get a few more to sue for denying survivor’s benefits to gay couples on the basis of equal protection violations.
  • Another group can sue to invalidate inheritance taxes when they are imposed after a spouse passes on.

This is doable. It takes a few brave souls, a lawyer and about $300 to file the lawsuit in federal court. One of two things will happen. Either they’ll sit back and let us tear the whole thing down or they’ll RUN to implement my next option with the hope of saving whats left of the institution of marriage. This would be an automatic win for us, for the reasons explained below.

Option #2: Privatize Marriage – Get the Government Out

I am a fan of giving credit where its due and not re-inventing the wheel. So I will let David Boaz present this argument to you. He astutely articulated it way back in 1997. And its still just as valid today as it was then, maybe more so now. By getting the government out of marriage, we remove the ability of the government to tell us who can get married and who can’t and put that back in the hands of the church. Fred Phelps is proof that anyone can start a church, no matter how insane they are. I am sure that we have a couple of good homos somewhere who could start a church that recognizes and officiates our marriages.

Folks, its time to take the gloves off. No more Mr. Nice Fag. You want your rights? Then demand them and be willing to fight for them. Or shut up.

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