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09/26/2007

It's not about the fair -- it's about fairness!

by Jeremy Hooper

Folsom-Street-FairSo yesterday we showed you how Matt Barber is condemning an ad for San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair, because organizers of the event used The Last Supper as the creative basis for their promotion. Well, in a new, coattails-riding piece that he has written on the matter, Peter LaBarbera has essentially parroted the exact same ideas. However, he does make one closing comment that we find very telling:

Kudos to CWA’s Matt Barber for exposing this travesty. Don’t hold your breath waiting for homosexual activists to forcefully denounce it or the Folsom Street Fair. Usually when Christian conservatives expose such twisted filth, the radical “gays” make fun of … the Christians. At least they’re consistent.

We say it's "telling," because it essentially sums up the way folks like Pete and Matt tend to view our movement. First, they act as if by not publicly denouncing certain events, gay activists everywhere are supporting or endorsing the affair. And they act as if anyone who is uncomfortable with an event SHOULD publicly condemn it. These, however, are narrow-minded concepts. There are surely scores of gay activists who do not personally find joy in the Folsom Street Fair. However, there are hundreds of thousands of people (gay and straight) who turn out for the event every year. So clearly, it is an event that is enjoyed by a considerable number of people. The difference between the pro-gay team and the anti-gay one is that even those on our side who have personal opinions about certain scenarios tend to understand that as long as those scenarios are within the realm of legality and civility, then personal opinion should not lead to public condemnation. Live and let live, and all that jazz.

But of course people like Matt and Pete say, "Oh, well, those crazy radical gays aren't joining us on the picket lines, so clearly they are in one of the booths getting punch f***ed by a gorilla." They live in a world where they not only speak out against the political, social, and governmental matters that they seen contrary to a fair society (which is fine), but also a world where they lash out against any and every event, person, or idea that falls outside of the strict and narrow mold of far-right evangelism. On the gay side of things, we tend to lash out against the bombs that are thrown at our community. Their side, however, tends to be the one lighting the fuse!

Then we have the matter of "radical gays" making fun of Christians. This is the straw man argument of which Pete, Matt, and the ilk are most fond. For you see, they have created the illusion that the term "Christian" and the term "anti-gay/ anti-liberal flame thrower" are one and the same. And so when gays say to someone like Matt or Pete, "Yo, dudes, you're acting in a reactionary, judgmental manner that is contrary to both freedom and Christianity," these sorts of characters act as if we are firebombing the Baptist church. And when we react in genuine disbelief over rhetoric and actions that are so comically out-of-step with what we see as righteous, dignified, or educated, they act as if we are ridiculing the ideas just for the fun of it. They never stop and consider that we laugh at the vitriol, so as not to cry. And they of course NEVER consider that they are ones who are fostering a culture wherein not only anti-gay jokes and fun-poking are kept in fashion, but also one wherein slurs, beatings, and bias-motivated crimes are de rigueur.

So Pete, you are right in saying that folks should not hold their breath waiting for gay activists to denounce the Folsom Street Fair. Some of us will remain silent because we have already polished our leather harness (you know about those, right?) and are waiting in great anticipation for the date to arrive. Others of us will remain silent because even though we prefer our sex on the vanilla side, we prefer our culture on the one in which our personal judgments are not foisted upon others. But don't make it seem as if both camps are misdirecting their anger when they call into question the condemnatory, demonizing, crude language that is issued by your side. Regardless of personal views on whips and chains, it's easy to see that you guys' verbal tongue-lashings are worthy of derision!!

Sodom & Gomorrah Would Blush: Homosexual Sadists Mock Jesus with Last Supper Take-Off in Poster for ‘Folsom Street Fair’ [AFT]

**UPDATE: And as Dan Savage points out, The Last Supper has been spoofed approximately ten million and six times.

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Your thoughts

Andrew Sullivan has also condemned the ad as "blasphemy." Any thoughts on that?

Cheers. =)

Posted by: KipEsquire | Sep 26, 2007 9:49:20 AM

Kip: My comment is that Andrew and I do not see eye-to-eye on many issues (especially those of a theological nature). However, I respect his level of discourse.

His comment is this:

"San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair commits a provocation. Utterly unnecessary, I'd say, and counter-productive to ensuring that events like Folsom can continue to thrive. And not even ballsy. Next year, guys: do a similar parody on a sacred Muslim scene, if you have the balls. Easy, cheap blasphemy impresses no one."

Personally, I find the Muslim argument (one that Matt Barber also made) completely irrelevant. So he's implying they would react with violence if such an ad was created? Well, then they would also be acting in a manner that runs contrary to true religious freedom!

Is the ad "unnecessary"? Sure, as they could have chosen any subject. But this is what they chose. Whether or not it was productive to their cause is debatable. However, in my estimation, the reactions of folks like Pete and Matt are undebatably hostile to both artistic and religious freedom!

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/09/culture-war-gas.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 26, 2007 9:56:40 AM

I've been working on a response to this kerfuffle today, pointing out that parodies of The Last Supper are very, very common, in fact it's one of the most parodied paintings of all time. The PR for the event mentions that they were also going to parody other famous images such as American Gothic. Maybe pitchfork-owners will complain about that... It's not possible to parody a Muslim scene in this way because Islam prohibits religious art outright so there are no easily-recognised images to work variations on.

Meanwhile, what do Sullivan or the shrieking Christian hordes think when a Christian group produce their own parody of the same painting?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/448350.stm

Posted by: John C | Sep 26, 2007 11:11:03 AM

I never would've heard of this fair had people like Matt Barber and Peter LaBarbera chosen not to get their panties twisted over this ad. I suspect the same is true of many other people. And I suspect that at least some of the people who found out about the fair due to the controversy will check it out. So if the fair organizers subscribe to the old adage that any publicity is good publicity (as it often seems Barber and LaBarbera do, given their own love of being controversial), I'd say this ad has fairly productive for them.

Personally, I think the ad's in bad taste. But then, there are no laws against bad taste, nor should there be.

Posted by: Jarred | Sep 26, 2007 11:16:42 AM

two things - I agree a little with Andrew Sullivan. The ad is kinda rude.

Second point - will peter and company even mention the fact that some lgbts do not like the ad.

That was a rhetorical question because of course they won't. If they did, then it would shatter their illusion of the lgbt community being anti-Christian and pro-hedonistic,.

Posted by: A. McEwen | Sep 26, 2007 11:48:44 AM

I can't sit by and not comment on the Christian brouhaha over an ad for this year's San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair, because organizers of the event used The Last Supper as the creative basis for their promotion poster. The thing that gets my shorts in a twist is some of the allegations I read about the Fair. One hate monger said that the City of San Francisco allows nudity and sex orgies on the street in broad daylight. I lived for many years half a block from where the Folsom Street Fair is held each year. I never missed one! Granted bare butt checks can be seen, usually the flabby kind, and the attitude of the Fair is raunchy on purpose -- the Fair is a celebration of sexuality: gay, straight and other. But not once did I ever see bared the part of the male anatomy that dare not speak its name, or anybody having sex -- one-on-one or orgiatically -- in broad daylight. (Darn!!!). I had to set the record "straight."

Posted by: Bill Carey | Sep 26, 2007 12:48:21 PM

Here the ironic part of all of this Leonardo da Vinci was not only a homosexual he was a pederast.

Posted by: Alonzo | Sep 26, 2007 2:15:36 PM

I'm sorry but I have to agree with Sullivan it is an offensive ad. As a gay Christian I am all for our equal rights but this just was over the line for the Folsom Street Fair. I have seen many renditions of the Last Supper, including an evil Last Supper of all the top world's murders (Hitler, Jefrery Dahmer, etc...) in hell which was displayed in a Hollywood, CA shop. But then I don't remember hearing the Religious Right complaining about that image.

Something like this just provokes and feeds the anger of RR. It makes all of us look like everything the Right says about us true. The best thing that could be done is the gay Christian community needs to publicaly condemn the ad. At least it will be on record that not all in the GLBT community supports the ad.

Posted by: Ken R | Sep 26, 2007 3:19:46 PM

Ken R: But that's the thing -- you are totally free to find the ad offensive. There are surely gays who do. But the issue is the way Pete and Matt (and others) are making this sound like this is the gay community "attacking" Jesus, Christianity, God, etc.

Also, it can't be stressed enough that this is not a "gay ad," but rather an ad for a BSDM event. Regardless of what ad route they take, there is already a built in audience that is going to have a problem.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 26, 2007 3:28:50 PM

Jeremy,

Pete, Matt, and the others on the Right as you know think that this is what all gays do. You and I. No matter if we support the Folsom Street Fair or not, they believe we all engage in it. Why do we need to feed the flames for them?

I watched the Hannity and Colmes show last night with Wayne Benson and I agree that they are obsessed with anything gay because their organizations thrive on it. But Wayne pointed out that they have no problems when "straights" do the same things during Mardi Gras and other "straight" parties. They don't even have a problem with divorce and remarriges as long as its "heterosexual". Or if condemnation is made they do not believe that all straights engage in such behaviors. It would be like me calling all straight men rapists since we all know full well most rapes are by straight men. They wouldn't believe it.

It is my opinion that the Folsom Street Fair should have thought long and hard about the possible ramifications from this ad. If they did it for the controversy, it worked.

Posted by: Ken R | Sep 26, 2007 3:45:15 PM

Ken: I don't see the right's thoughts on what gays do as the issue here. They will think that just by the very fact that these events exist. The issue is whether or not it is acceptable to use a Biblical concept like The Last Supper as the basis for your advertisement. I think it is, and even see how some Christians could consider it to be a positive statement about Christianity (that sexuality is a gift from God that should be celebrated; that all are welcome at the table; etc). Matt and Pete, however, are acting as if it is an ATTACK on Jesus. I'm saying that even if you personally find it offensive to your Christian beliefs, you should understand how and why others (of varying faiths) see it differently.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 26, 2007 3:52:00 PM

I disagree that there's anything religious about this picture or Annie Leibowitz's photo of The Sopranos or the scene in M*A*S*H or a great many of the similar variations of the Last Supper. It's a famous image first and foremost and it's the familiarity of the image that's being played with. Most variations of The Last Supper have as much to do with religion as variations on American Gothic have to do with Midwest farmers. It's a representation of a representation.

Another point: we hear regularly that certain groups mustn't be upset for fear of spoiling things for everyone else. But these people can't be reasoned with. Many of them believe that the earth is only 4,000 years old. They don't want us to be polite, they want us to cease to exist. Gay rights came about through bad manners and doing the "wrong" thing. Drag queens and flamboyant guys were in the vanguard, not polite preppies who could pass for straight. I'll consider being polite and respectful when people stop calling me a pervert and insisting I'm going to be tortured forever by their "loving" god.

Oh and if you think the continual outrage about gay issues is completely sincere, read this from Joe Murray, an ex-member of the American Family Association:

http://www.thebulletin.us/site/news.cfm?newsid=18841798&BRD=2737&PAG=461&dept_id=576361&rfi=6

Posted by: John C | Sep 26, 2007 11:14:58 PM

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