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They hate him because he's a progressive gay. Period.

by Jeremy Hooper

Over the past month or so, we've routinely been disgusted by the way the far-right social conservatives are defaming Kevin Jennings, a decent human being who has dedicated his life to making public schooling easier for LGBT kids and teens, so that they can reverse his appointment as head the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. But now the Family Research Council has outdone all prior attacks, going so far as to launch an ad campaign and website wherein they isolate and de-contextualize quotes (mostly from his 2006 memoir, Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son) in order to make this accomplished, Harvard-educated public servant sound like an unreasonable, child-endangering pervert:

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Family Research Council launches campaign to boot Kevin Jennings from Dept of Ed. [PHB]

Oh, and the man who seems to be most behind this Jennings "research"? Well that would be FRC's Peter Sprigg, a man whose own quote bank includes this remarkably un-fireable nugget:

"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society."

Apparently in FRC's bizzaro world of "child protection," teaching kids that homosexuals are America's most needed export is simply a lesson in social studies, but a man's life work of genuinely keeping gays safe from harm is a call for a career-ruining game of "smear the queer." Oh how proud their parents must be.


***NOTE: For one example of how they decontextualize: This is the full snippet from the speech quoted in number 1:

"Everybody thought Harry Hay was crazy in 1948, and they knew something about him which he apparently did not—they were right, he was crazy. You are all crazy. We are all crazy. All of us who are thinking this way are crazy, because you know what? Sane people keep the world the same [sh*tty] old way it is now. It’s the people who think, ‘No, I can envision a day when straight people say, ‘So what if you’re promoting homosexuality?’ Or straight kids say, ‘Hey, why don’t you and your boyfriend come over before you go to the prom and try on your tuxes on at my house?’ That if we believe that can happen, we can make it happen. The only thing that will stop us is our lack of faith that we can make it happen. That is our mission from this day forward. To not lose our faith, to not lose our belief that the world can, indeed, be a different place."

***NOTE: The second quote, from Jennings' memoir, relays his frustrations as a gay teen, when his inability to "overcome" his gay desires convinced him that he was detached from God. But you would of course never know that, since FRC wants you to think it it the adult Jennings simply lashing out at faith.

Pertinent passage can be read here.

**NOTE: Full context of number three (via Warren Throckmorton's mp3 of the speech):

"And it took me back to 12 years ago at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts where I taught, where I was a very scared young gay teacher. I had been fired from my first job for being gay.

And in my second job I wasn’t sure how I wanted to deal with that. And I was in my first month on the job and I had an advisee named Brewster. Brewster was missing a lot of classes; he was in the boarding school so I said to his teacher, his first period teacher, I said, ‘next time Brewster misses a class I want you to tell me that he’s missed that class and, uh, I will go find him.’ So I went and found Brewster one morning when she had called and he was asleep in his dorm room.

And I said, “Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?” And he said, “Well, I’m tired.” And I said, “Well we all are tired and we all got to school today.” And he said, “Well I was out late last night.” And I said, “What were you doing out late on a school night.” And he said, “Well, I was in Boston…” Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, “What were you doing in Boston on a school night Brewster?” He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, “Well
I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.” High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn’t know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly so I finally said, My best friend had just died of AIDS the week before. I looked at Brewster and said, “You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.” He said to me something I will never forget, He said “Why should I, my life isn’t worth saving anyway.”

I cannot remain closeted; I cannot allow the next generation to feel the way I felt

These all look and sound a little different when you take time to read/listen to the whole thing rather than isolate what's convenient!!!

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Your thoughts

Then don't have him come to San Leandro. Teachers from there en mass yesterday in SF Pride Parade with placards.


LGBT Respect

PS. Did you know we have a new LETTER group?
LGBTQAA...Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Allies and ASEXUAL...

Yep a Whole New group of intentionally celibate young people, feel harrassed
and queer... so they are joining us!

Posted by: LOrion | Jun 29, 2009 2:51:17 PM

He did write those things, so he has to live with the fallout. I certainly hope he doesn't respond too them in any way. It seems the best thing to do is to let the wingnuts blow themselves out.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jun 29, 2009 2:57:15 PM

But they are not bad, Mike. I see no reason why he has any "fallout" whatsoever.

The people who deserve fallout are FRC and the like, who are so blatantly demonizing him.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 29, 2009 3:28:05 PM

Do these people actually READ this sh*t they are writing - don't they see the hate they are spewing - - (Love thy neighbor as thyself for the love of me) and they're christians to boot! Makes one wonder.

Posted by: tom | Jun 29, 2009 3:41:48 PM

i was in the doctor's office this morning. Picked up the Washington Examiner - i wouldnt read it unless it was right there - and on the 3rd page was this add. I was so confused. I could tell the ad was horrible, demonising, irresponsible, but i was reading the quotes they wanted to scare people with and they (obviously from my point of view) were either statements i agreed with, or agreed with and found funny. So i actually laughed out loud at the episode and its absurdity. I know i should probably be outraged, but if its got to the stage where these national ads are so absurd those they attack laugh at them then perhaps we have got somewhere.

oddly enough I agree with the second part of Mike's post. He should just ignore it. Defeat people with kindness. He's got a big job in Education - far more important to teach those growing up than those already old and stupid if you ask me.

Posted by: Dylan | Jun 29, 2009 3:59:01 PM

They've been trying to get Jennings out for the longest. I see that they have abandoned the "Jennings is trying to teach children about fisting" lie. Again with your permission, Jerermy, I want to put a link out of my posts talking about the situation. This link has all of the posts in one convenient placce:


Posted by: a. mcewen | Jun 29, 2009 5:44:43 PM

Dylan, perhaps you made my point better than I did. From our point of view, the ad is irresponsible and childish. From the right wing's point of view, the quotes are depraved and probably scary. They will rant and rave about these quotes in emails and phone calls until someone realizes that they are all ranting and raving about the same quotes. It is best not to respond to them and let them look foolish.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jun 29, 2009 6:28:53 PM

Kevin Jennings is a real gay rights hero and has done more for gay and lesbian youth (and all youth, in fact) than most of our other "leaders".

I remember him coming to our highschool to talk about bullying and what it was like for him to come out, and it left quite an impression on me.

Posted by: Raphael | Jun 29, 2009 7:33:29 PM

It's really disheartening, the depths to which they'll sink to demonize him.

Posted by: Bill S | Jun 30, 2009 7:20:04 PM

For a not-too-bad read on one Christian's experiences with the homosexual community, try http://mommylife.net/archives/2006/01/how_to_treat_ho.html

Posted by: Dude | Oct 10, 2009 6:22:55 PM

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