Allow A Former Skinhead To Explain Why White Supremacists Hate (And Brutalize) Gays

Arno Michaels used to be a proud Wisconsin white supremacist. He had a "hate metal" band, Centurion, that sold some 20,000 CDs about killing blacks and Jews, and undoubtedly acted as a soundtrack to fear and torment. (It still does; there remains a following in Europe.) But last year Michaels started an organization called Life After Hate, a web mag preaching anti-violence, and wrote a book My Life After Hate. It's part of his journey from hate leader — he organized 1998's Skinfest, which attracted monsters from all over the country to Milwaukee — to, well, anti-hate leader. Now 40, Michaels has a lot of making up to do. Things changed in the 90s, when he saw his own daughter at day care playing with kids of all races. "I didn’t want her to be a victim," he told the Shepherd-Express in February. "I thought about the parents of kids I’d beaten up. They loved their kids as much as I loved mine. It really hit me how horrible I’d been. I really regretted it." Now, he says, "hate was justified by a claim of love for the white race." That's what he believed from around age 17 to 24, when he was, let's say, an active racist. But white power isn't limited to targeting non-whites. It extends to targeting non-straights. Speaking to the Wisconsin Gazette's Will Fellows, Michaels explains why anti-gay hate was simply part of the mix. It's something he knows about all too well: his first arrest was for a gay bashing, and he's personally inflicted plenty of pain on our community simply for being queer.

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