Dealing with the ‘A’-word

We appreciate allies, but we also want to preserve LGBT-only space

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

As most of my friends and readers know, I am an active member of the leather community. What you might not know is that there is currently a brouhaha raging in that community about who really belongs or doesn’t belong.

It reminds me of the debates about how many letters to append to LGBT. Right now it’s up to eight with a tongue-twisting “LGBTQQAI” as the latest permutation (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Allies, Intersex).

The letter that has caused so much discussion among leather folk is the “A,” which stands for “allies” in the alphabet soup that is political correctness.

I have a great affinity for allies, and most of them would fall into the category of “straight.”

Straight people, or the “heterosexuals” as some call them, are not a bad group for the most part. Some of my best friends are straight, and to their credit they often march with us in the local Pride parade.

The problem in the leather world with straight people is that not all of them are allies. Many of them fall into the category of what I could call “sexual tourists,” free-thinking (or at least thrill-seeking) heterosexuals who poke about in the world of leather to spice up their love lives.

Now, I am not opposed to people having rich and exciting sex lives. I think that is one of the great gifts our creator endowed us with.

Sex can be fun, if you do it right, and so I have no problem sharing advice and venues with my straight fellows.

Where I do have a problem is when they take over space that was previously the venue of queer leatherfolk or, more often, state their resentment at queer leatherfolk wanting their own spaces.

In the vanilla world this is happening as well. Just look at the gentrification of gayborhoods across the country.

When the San Francisco Eagle Tavern, a landmark of leather history in that city, closed to be remodeled as a straight bar the issue became even clearer.

Right here in Dallas, the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs gayborhood is in flux as well. New businesses and developments are springing up everywhere.

That in itself is not a bad thing, but when folks move into what is essentially an “entertainment district” they have to expect the kind of lifestyle that goes with the territory.

I have heard complaints about parking on the street — not surprising since parking is at a premium. But for those who are miffed about it, try finding a parking space in Greenwich Village in New York.

Recently, new metrosexual residents of San Francisco’s Castro District have been bemoaning the open display of affection between same-sex couples on the street. Well, when you move into the most famous gay neighborhood in the world, you are going to see that!

Same thing here in Dallas; it comes with the territory.

As in the leather community, there are spaces that have been staked out through years of struggle as “leather-space,” and though we have made our straight friends welcome, they cannot expect us to surrender the space completely.

In our LGBT community as well, we can welcome our allies, but not surrender our identity or our “queer space’ to them.

It is not a matter of hospitality, it is a matter of preserving hard-earned turf.

I understand that many LGBT folks want to fully assimilate into society, and I believe that is not a bad thing when it comes to rights and duties of citizenship in our country.

But I also do not want to blend in so completely that I disappear.

Like many ethnic minorities, I still value the culture I grew up with as a gay man, and I don’t want to see all of it surrendered to make straight allies feel welcome. They are welcome as long as they understand the importance of our space.

It is true in the LGBT community and the leather community, and it is something our allies would be better off understanding.

As a child I used to complain to my mother about Mother’s Day. “When is kids day?” I’d ask her.

And she would smile and answer: “Every day is kids day.”

Now I understand her logic.

In our society, everywhere is “straight space,” so neither we nor our allies should find it unusual at all that we want our own “queer space.”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

Time to raise hell over Perry’s decision to partner with anti-gay hate group for ‘day of prayer’

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

So if our governor participated in a Ku Klux Klan rally most Texans, (I said “most”) would be outraged. A call for his resignation would ring so loudly the state Capital dome would shatter. Why? Well the KKK is a hate group plain and simple.

So where is the outrage that our governor plans to participate in a “day of prayer” with another recognized hate group, the AFA? The American Family Group has long been a bastion of anti-LGBT rhetoric and is now recognized for what it is, a “hate group” by the SPLC. This is the same organization who tracks other hate groups like the skinheads and KKK throughout the nation. The AFA and its activities fall well within the definition of a hate group and as such our governor should have nothing to do with them. Instead Rick Perry is touting his participation in a “day of prayer and fasting”.

I sincerely believe we need to be vocal in disapproving this outrageous action by our state’s governor. The AFA has a history of defaming LGBT Americans as well as Jews, Muslims and other minorities. Start writing those letters!

—  admin

Hitting a tipping point

Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts (Michael Chow, The Arizona/Associated Press)

Sports figures’ decisions to come out can push LGBT community one step closer to equality

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell writes about what he calls “social epidemics.” Just like a disease epidemic can blow up and spread very quickly, ideas can suddenly become embraced by the public at large and spread at a rapid pace.

That point when something goes from being just a few people who embrace the idea to the critical mass needed to flood the mainstream consciousness of the country is the “tipping point.”

At its most fundamental level, the LGBT movement begins with opening the closet door. That coming out process is almost always difficult and sometimes it takes years, but it is the beginnings of genuine liberation.

Well, on the coming out front, we may be at the tipping point and for the LGBT rights movement that could trigger a big change

Today I read a story about Jared Max, a sportscaster for ESPN Radio who said this in his morning show:

“Are we ready to have our sports information delivered by someone who is gay? Well we are gonna find out. Because for the last 16 years, I’ve been living a free life among my close friends and family, and I’ve hidden behind what is a gargantuan-sized secret here in the sports world: I am gay.

“Yeah. Jared Max. The sports guy who is one of the most familiar faces in New York sports isn’t quite like the majority. And while you already knew I was a little different, this might help make sense of it. But more so, I’m taking this courageous jump into the unknown having no idea how I will be perceived. …”

This is pretty big news, but even bigger when you consider the other folks who came out in the just the past few weeks:

• Don Lemon, weekend anchor for CNN Newsroom announced last week that he is gay. He did so in advance of the release of his new book, Transparent, in which he discusses his life as an African-American newscaster and as a gay man.

• Look to sports again as the CEO of the Phoenix Suns, Rick Welts, came out in a story in the New York Times. Why? He said that he wanted to do something to help youth struggling with their own sexual identity issues, to assure them they could come out and still have a successful career.

• Former Villanova basketball star, Will Sheridan, kicked open his closet door coming out publicly on ESPN just a day after Rick Welts.

• And all this after former NFL player Wade Davis came out as part of a GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Sports Project a couple of months ago.

Perhaps I am the only one to see a trend here, but when broadcasters and, more specifically, sports figures start feeling it’s OK to come out, we might be nearing that tipping point.

This trend is not that new either. In the past few years dozens of high-profile people have made their sexual orientation known. My hope is that the cumulative effect will push things over the edge.

What would that look like? Well, it would be somewhat of a continuation of what we see now: more and more people publicly coming out until the mere act of announcing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity will become so commonplace that it is no longer news.

That would signal that LGBT people had really taken a major step toward full equality. The day when a celebrity or sports figure comes out and is no longer headline material, or more importantly no longer feels the need to hold a press conference to do it, will be a great day for LGBT rights.

So to all those celebrities, sports figures, actors, politicians who are still in the closet: Come out! You may be the nudge that pushes things past the tipping point — and that is something that will benefit everyone.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

Not just a ‘third-world’ problem

News of yet another ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa makes headlines, but a quick bit of research shows the U.S. faces similar problems

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

I grew up in a different age. It was the 1950s and everyone was supposed to live in a Donna Reed family with 2.5 kids and a dog. At home, Father knew best and wives were re-christened “homemakers,” clearly showing their place in the family hierarchy.

Outside the hetero-normative illusion, there were those strange folks who lived on the shadowy fringes of society. They were never called by name, but I soon learned they were “pansies” and presented a marked difference in their mannerisms and speech.

One group that was never spoken of was lesbians. They were there, but so invisible they were beyond consideration.

Oh sure, I had female gym teachers who were more masculine than any pre-teen boy ever hoped to be, but they were “athletic.” And my maiden aunt and her “friend” who lived together for 30 years after serving in the WACs were just “spinsters” who never met the right man.

When I finally did hear of lesbians, it was in the context of some strange porn fantasy. The voyeuristic thrill of watching women together was an ideal teenager fantasy, at least for straight male teenagers.

Over and over again I heard men and teens boasting that the only “problem with lesbians is they never got it from the right man.”

It seemed that men — or more specifically a man’s penis — could solve any problem when it came to sexual orientation.

That myth has died down somewhat in this country. But apparently it is alive and well in South Africa.

A 13-year-old girl who was perceived as a lesbian was “correctively raped” in that country. The savage attack on her is not the first, as violence against lesbians increases. Last month, well-known LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza was murdered, presumably because of her sexual orientation.

The trend toward men raping lesbians to “fix” them has risen alarmingly in a country with some of the most progressive laws in the world concerning LGBT people. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Dipika Nath, a researcher with Human Rights Watch said, “The vicious nature of the assault is a potent reminder that these attacks are premeditated, planned, and often committed with impunity.”

This isn’t a new trend. Last year last, Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa’s national female football squad, was a victim of a “corrective rape.” She did not survive the gang rape and subsequent stabbings.

So far the South African government has not made these crimes a priority. A “committee” was formed to investigate the latest case, but this has been going on for several years.

You might think this is just a problem in Africa. Well, think again.

An American judge, Joseph A. Rehyansky (actually a part-time magistrate), was quoted as saying in an online interview that lesbians should be allowed to serve in the military and not gay men.

Why? Well this quote explains it pretty well: “It would get the distaff part of our homosexual population off our collective ‘Broke Back,’ thus giving straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream.”

He goes on to further muse about evolution: “It fell to men to swing through the trees and scour the caves in search of as many women as possible to subdue and impregnate — a tough job but someone had to do it.”

Once again all those pesky lesbians need is the right penis!

Old myths die hard, and this one has a zombie-like ability to resurface again and again. I have to wonder what it will take to put a stake in its heart forever.

I serve on the board of a non-profit human rights organization, and I am amazed at how people in the United States always think “human rights violations” are things that only happen in third-world countries.

Well, welcome to reality. If you consider sexuality a basic human right, the U.S. scores pitifully. With attitudes like Rehyansky’s and with the continued myth of “corrective rape” that apparently is still in our nation’s consciousness. we still have a long way to go.

It’s time we began looking at the reality of human rights in our own country. It’s time we discarded the 1950s mythos when most problems could be solved by just letting the “right man” handle the job.

I am reminded of the adage that says, “To a carpenter with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Well, being a lesbian is not a problem, and it certainly doesn’t need fixing by a man swinging his “hammer.”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

Sacrificial goats must keep fighting

The right wing scapegoats LGBTs, sacrificing our rights on their altar of power. The goats have to keep fighting back if we want equality

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

Land of the free and home of the brave? Maybe not. Just look at all the issues being flogged both in the legislature and in the press. All are to try to stifle the freedom of LGBT people.

• DOMA: The cynically named “Defense of Marriage Act” which has nothing to do with defending marriage and everything to do with denying rights to LGBT couples.

Worse, even though the president said it is unconstitutional, the GOP, lead by House Speaker John Boehner, wants to spend $500,000 of our dollars to defend a bill the Department of Justice sees as indefensible.

• Special Rights for Gays: This is a catch phrase being used again and again by the right wing to somehow try to justify discrimination in just about any way possible.

For example in many states if you are a landlord, you are not allowed to deny someone the right to rent an apartment — but only if they are listed as a protected class. That’s how the law works in this screwy society.

So, if I am a member of a racial minority, a woman or disabled, I can seek legal recourse against the landlord. Because LGBT people are not included in that list in most states, we have no recourse.

In the eyes of the right wing, granting us the same rights as any other minority is “special rights.” Worse still is the fact that we are denied rights in our relationships that other Americans get simply because they are straight.

• Hate Crimes: The right fights tooth and nail to keep LGBT people from being included in hate crimes legislation wherever it is proposed. Just as bad, some have even tried to dissect us and include gays and lesbians while leaving transgender folks out.

To add LGBT people to the list of victims of hate crimes apparently denies the far right their freedom to hate whoever they want.

• Ex-Gay Therapy: This discredited practice still gets funding and support from fundamentalist churches and right-wing organizations that are actively working to “cure” gays and lesbians. Our lives have been compared to the problem with “second-hand smoke” and devalued by rhetoric from the right.

They spread the lie that our sexual orientation is a choice, and therefore something we can change at will.

This list could go on and on, but the point is that for some reason the conservatives are spending huge piles of cash to actively deny us the rights and privileges they enjoy. Why do they spend so much of their time and energy working to take away rights from us?

Politically, it is an easy talking point. The right has found that anti-LGBT rhetoric can whip a crowd into a frenzy faster than talking about real issues. In the world of media image, nothing is as valued by the right as a cheering crowd and a sound bite on TV or radio.

Economically, LGBT issues can make a quick buck for the right wing. Whether it is raising funds to “defeat the gay agenda” or funds to “rescue the poor sinners from the gay lifestyle,” donations flow when the anti-LGBT rhetoric rings out.

And psychologically, it’s an easy hot button. The whole existence of LGBT people makes many heterosexuals nervous. I am not a psychologist, but I would lay odds that for many there are insecurities around their own sexual orientation that drives this.

The mere fact that the “gay panic” defense works in the judicial system as an excuse for assault and murder points to this as an underlying problem.

But I suspect the real reason the right has seized on LGBT rights as their favorite topic is more troubling: It’s what I call the “bogie man” factor.

Fear is a very good motivator. Just look at how we Americans cheerfully gave up our privacy rights after 9/11. We were afraid and we were told giving up our privacy would get us security.

The results are still very much open for debate.

Meanwhile politicians, pundits and clergy have found their available list of “bogie men” dwindling. Back in the 1950s, communists were the enemy and the cause of every ill under the sun. In the ’60s “hippies” were looked on as the root cause of problems.

In the last decade, “terrorists” became the main thing to fear, though it was a thinly disguised version of xenophobia and racism.

Now, one of the only things to fear is us, the LGBTS. We have become the bogie man for the current crop of fear mongers. We are being pointed to as the root of many of societies ills — and that is scapegoating, plain and simple.

Scapegoats are an easy way to explain complex problems, and in a world of 20-second sound bites, they are all too tempting for politicians, pundits and clergy to ignore.

Well, it’s time we goats stopped behaving like sheep and started butting our heads up against the people who would deny us our rights. If we do not continue to push back, we will continue to have our rights sacrificed on the alter of politics. And this goat is not ready for that.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Tavern Guild treasurer responds to criticism over gay Pride festival changes

Clearing up some Festival facts

I’m a bit disappointed by the tone of Hardy Haberman’s article on the Festival in Lee Park (“The end of the free festival,” Dallas Voice, April 15).

The writer admits up front that he never attended the event. I’m not sure where the nostalgia comes from if you have not been a regular in the park following the parade.

We all miss the “good old days” when the world was different. Days when people respected the law, followed rules, respected each other and controlled their drinking and fighting.

Things have changed. Sadly, the festival has degenerated to an embarrassing level. It was evident on the parade route this past year. It was most evident in the park for the last two years.

Uncontrolled drinking of cases and cases of beer brought into the park led to a lot of issues: Gay on gay issues; drunk, loud, vulgar language in front of children; rude behavior and more fights than we have ever experienced.

The actions of a few of our community disgusted several GLBT families with children. Rude, vulgar actions led only to anger on the part of the offending parties that their actions were questioned. And most all of it was due to uncontrolled beer and even liquor consumption.

Public drunkenness is illegal. Bringing liquor into the park is illegal. We run the risk of losing the support and attendance of much of the GLBT community if we do not control the events in the park. That would be a real loss.

TABC and Homeland Security are an issue, even though the writer scoffed at the idea. Homeland Security is the reason police requirements rose from 20 officers to 85 officers (DPD wanted 100 officers). These are all $35 to $45 per hour, per officer. We are approaching $20,000 in security.

Add to that a clean-up cost of $12,000 because in a celebration, no one wants to pick up after themselves. Add to that a festival in the park where the celebration is used by a few as an excuse to get as drunk as they want, with no thought or respect for others in attendance.

Frankly, this damages the GLBT image. It drives away good, responsible GLBT people from attending, and it cheapens the event.

A loss for the community? Yes, but that loss is not about a free event in the park. It’s a loss of reason, a loss of responsibility, a loss of respect and decency.

Americans in general have lost it. Some in the GLBT community have lost it. Fencing in the park was a last resort effort to control the drunkenness and the sanity during our festival.

The decision would have been taken out of our hands next year anyway. The Tavern Guild made the only good choice, and thanks to that decision, the festival will continue, “for now.”

Alan Pierce
Treasurer, Dallas Tavern Guild


More on charging for the Festival

Though I understand the reasoning, I think they will find that far fewer people attend the event, myself included … unless truly there is big name entertainment.

Bummer, via DallasVoice.com


The entire “Pride” thing is a joke. There is no pride. Its an excuse to be exhibionistic and to get stinking drunk. Sad, sad, sad.

Jim, via DallasVoice.com


This is what you get when you allow a community event to be sponsored by a group of business people whose main concern is getting a large amount of people into their bars and drinking their overpriced drinks. Lee Park is a PUBLIC PARK and the idea that a business group could fence it and charge admission goes against everything the idea of a public park should be. Of course, if the Tavern Guild is decrying the amount of “drunks” at the parade, they have no one to blame but themselves. Pride Schmide.

Brett, via DallasVoice.com


It (charging admission) is a great idea. I wish it would have happened sooner. I re-read the article and the negative comments seem extreme and unfounded.

Little Monster, via DallasVoice.com


Log Cabin Republicans was planning on having a booth as it always does at the festival until we read about the rule changes. The rule changes will impede attendance as much or more than the $5.

Can you imagine Lee Park with a perimeter fence? Nobody will be able to enter without going through a main entrance. Can you imagine renting a booth and not being allowed to bring in a cooler for your workers and guests? We just offer water and soft drinks, but coolers are now prohibited.

I don’t believe these rules will stand for very long as surely nobody will commit to a festival that nobody will attend.

Robert Schlein, via DallasVoice.com

—  John Wright

Gov. Rick Perry issues proclamation calling for ‘Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas’

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

It’s been awfully dry in Texas and the wildfires are spreading big-time. What we need is help to fight the fires and more importantly, RAIN. Now I am a religious guy, even though some of my readers might not believe it, however I am not a big believer in intercessory prayer.

Not so our governor. He has issued an official state proclamation stating in part, “it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires.”

Though I applaud his sentiment, the idea of a state proclamation urging prayer really treads heavily on the line between separation of church and state. More importantly, instead of asking people to just pray, why not ask them to volunteer to fight the fires? Actions speak louder than words, Gov. Perry.

—  admin

Of gays, Glee and generations

GLEEFUL | The cast of Glee poses with the show’s Golden Globe Award for “Best Television Series — Comedy or Musical” in January. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

TV has always been a reflection of both society’s current and future climates; and Fox comedy tells of great changes happening

HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left

I guess I have just renewed my “Gay Card” since I have become a fan of the hit television show Glee. The show’s weekly musical fantasy reminds me of those 1930s musical movies I grew up watching on my parent’s old black and white Zenith television. Yes I am that old.

Aside from the nostalgia factor, the show is very telling about today’s society and should be encouraging to anyone in the LGBT community. Several of the characters on the show are gay.

Glee is not the first show to have gay characters. That honor goes to the short-lived sitcom The Corner Bar back in 1972. (Vincent Schiavelli was the first actor to play a continuing gay character, Peter Panama, on U.S. television.)

But on Glee, though some plots revolve around the character’s being gay, more and more their sexuality is just an accepted fact.

Though Will and Grace did much the same thing a decade ago, Glee breaks new ground with its high school-aged characters. What I find refreshing about the show is both the treatment of the gay characters on the show, and more importantly, the country’s reaction to it. It is a hit!

The fact that Fox aired a new episode of Glee immediately following the Super Bowl — and the episode included a gay sub-plot and yet still garnered record-breaking ratings — says a lot. Though as a nation, the United States is still riddled with homophobia and all it’s variations, as a whole we are moving toward a level of acceptance I have never seen before.

And remember, I grew up watching black-and-white TV.

Television, for all its flaws, is a pretty good bellwether for American society and opinions. Though TV often helps shape attitudes, it also reflects them, and the medium of comedy has proven to be one of the most potent for both.

Had Archie Bunker in All in the Family not reflected the stubborn resistance of an older generation to change in the 1970s, it would have been far less funny. Had Maude not skewered the strident overly-politically-correct character played by Bea Arthur, it would never have resonated with viewers.

Now comes Glee, with a raft of teenagers and their inherent hormone-driven drama set to music that cuts across generations. Teen pregnancy, bullying, homophobia and the pitfalls of gay dating are all fair game — and the public not only gets it, it embraces it.

That is progress.

Now before you set pen to paper and accuse me of being a Pollyanna, yes, I know it’s still tough for LGBT people out here in the real world. But what I am encouraged by is the number of changes I am beginning to see.

Talk to young people, and ask them their attitudes toward LGBT people. From the ones I have spoken with, (in a very unscientific study) they do not see sexual orientation as the big deal as it once was.

The older generation who that harbors those prejudices against LGBT people are looking more and more like Archie Bunker. Groups who once held sway — like the American Family Association — have now been relegated to the status of a fringe hate group, where they should have been all along.

According to recent surveys, young people have more favorable views of LGBT people than do older folks. That’s encouraging. You see, that means the homophobes are decreasing by attrition as well as by change in attitude. And that means the next generation will be far less likely to hold the prejudices of their elders.

That means Americans can watch a show where the plot revolves around Kurt trying to figure out how to tell Blaine how he really feels and the fact that he is gay is not key to the plot. That is a big step from the days of gays being only the subject of dramas like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Killing of Sister George.

More importantly, LGBT people are no longer the punchline in comedy. Today it is the homophobe who is considered funny and out of step. Once again it’s the Archie Bunkers of this world who have become the punchline and that’s well worth smiling at.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

No GOProud at next year’s CPAC

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

There is a surprise! Not really.

GOProud, the allegedly gay Republican organization whose involvement with the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference stirred up so much anger among the right-wing they are politely being asked to not come back. GOProud’s presence atthe conference was enough to make a few very large participants stay away. Those include, Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America, Media Research Center and the hate group, Family Research Council.

Apparently the CPAC cannot afford to alienate these major players in their activities, so the gays get thrown under the Republican bus. Again, I have to wonder why the hell a group who is plainly not welcome and whose very existence goes against some of the GOP platform planks calls itself Republican? The degree of self-loathing of the GOProud folks is apparently limitless. For example, GOProud volunteer Matt Hissey is quoted in the above video saying, “I don’t really like gay people.” Nice!

—  admin

Don’t let story of David Kato’s murder die

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

A few months ago when I wrote about the draconian anti-homosexual laws being passed in Uganda, I had an ominous feeling that it would be the beginning of a very real nightmare for LGBT people in that African country.

Unfortunately, that is coming to pass.

LGBT activist David Kato was murdered, not by a sniper from a distance, but by an individual who brutally beat him to death with a hammer.

A Ugandan publication had published his photo and that of other LGBT activists on the front page; above the picture were the words “Hang Them.”

Already, the authorities in Uganda are trying to cloud the issue with talk of “thieves and gangs.” But to call his death anything but the hate crime it was is ludicrous.

Beating someone to death with a hammer is up close and personal and comes from a hate-filled rage.

Much of that rage has been fueled by clergy in Uganda. One man in particular — Martin Ssempa, a man with the dubious title of “reverend.”

If you don’t think you know him, you most likely do. Ssempa was the speaker in the YouTube video that went viral last year. In that clip he is describing how gay men “eat the pooh-pooh.”

Though to us it might have seemed comical and worthy of ridicule, in Uganda, Ssempa’s words are taken seriously.

Ssempa is a well-known preacher in Uganda, and he has a lot of well-funded U.S. ties. You see, anti-gay evangelists who can’t find an audience for their hate here in this country have fanned out to proselytize in countries where their message might have more traction.

Rick Warren, the author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” was one of Ssempa’s supporters. Though he now distances himself from the Uganda situation, funds from Warren’s church helped fuel this mess. U.S. evangelicals and the ex-gay movement are big players in Ssempa’s push.

Ssempa has wrapped his hate in the banner of AIDS activism. But don’t be fooled. His brand of activism led him to burn cases of condoms “in Jesus’ name” and to sponsor gatherings with U.S. speakers like Scott Lively, who blames homosexuals for the Nazi Holocaust.

Other U.S. interlopers include Don Schmierer, who is on the board of Exodus International and who spoke at a conference in Kampala in March, 2009, where he endorsed the anti-homosexual laws that caused such an international stir.

Now as David Kato is being laid to rest the controversy continues.

A pastor speaking at his funeral lashed out at homosexuality, prompting a strong reaction from Kato’s friends. Scuffles broke out before the event was over.

Things turned so ugly that villagers refused to bury his body, and it was up to his friends to carry the coffin to the grave and complete the burial themselves.
And all this just adds fuel to the fires in Uganda.

It is unfortunate that those fires have been stoked by citizens of the U.S. who traveled to Uganda to inflame passions there. Worse, this crime is going to fall from the front pages as events in Egypt take center stage in news from Africa. Besides, the story is somewhat old news, and falls well outside the attention span of U.S. news audiences.

That’s why it is up to the LGBT media to keep this urgent human rights story alive.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright