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Drop the ACT, Family Research Council! We know what's UP.

by Jeremy Hooper

In the early 1980s, a crisis of unimagined proportions hit America. And while it was an American problem, that's not the way it was received or viewed by countless many. Because, ya see, this crisis happened to hit the gay community earliest and hardest. So bias being what it was (is?) in this nation, many of our fellow hetero citizens took the fact that they weren't being directly affected to mean that inaction and, in some cases, brute inhumanity, were the best ways to handle a newfound plague.

It wasn't just the populace, either. On both a federal (Reagan) and local (Koch) level, politicians were all too often turning a blind eye to a disease that was decimating millions. Other prominent figures were actively using gay deaths against us in their campaign speeches. Rather than combat the illness of Pandora's unsavory box, many were choosing to reveal a largely unaddressed illness in the American psyche. And it was this malady of anti-gay bias that helped HIV/AIDS spread to epidemic levels.

LGBT people, disheartened by what was happening around them, knew that they had to take matters in their own hands. A timid mouth was not gonna earn them a presidential address. An unclenched hand was not going to fill others' hands with new kinds of drugs. A complacent butt wasn't going to put government officials' own booties into action. The time for whispers had passed, with far too many deaf ears and far too many dead queers. So the LGBT community, in between vigils and funerals, decided to raise their voices and start a revolution.

ACT UP! Fight Back! Fight AIDS!

Don't forget, this was a time when some conservative Christians were genuinely suggesting quarantining gays or branding them with scarlet letters. Also, the idea that AIDS was "God's wrath" was far from a niche idea in conservative church circles: It was the ongoing diagnosis in large numbers of houses of worship (and even remains so in many of these same church communities to this very day). Forget stone-casting. In Falwell's army, many of this nation's top evangelical leaders were stepping over carcasses to get better trajectory on their boulder tosses!

Was ACT UP perfect? Of course not. As with all nascent movements, there were missteps to be had.

Was everyone who ever stood with ACT UP in 100% agreement with every single undertaking? Of course not. Just like with current gay rights endeavors, from incrementalism to the National Equality March, there are supporters, semi-supporters, contrarians, and outright opponents. But the cause is greater than the self. The purpose is more powerful than the personality. So people show up to help the movement, sometimes out of support and sometimes out of a desire to learn more and/or encourage an adaptation of strategy. The perfect is not the enemy of the good, so even those who have their qualms and concerns came out to fight the undeniably good fight.

This collective spirit, far from a monolith but even farther from an obstacle, beget great victories. Victories we wouldn't have had otherwise. Victories we CERTAINLY wouldn't have had if the religious right's vision for American gays was allowed to become the Gospel. Even critics of some of ACT UP's direct actions would surely concede this point, as the gains are demonstrable. Real world gains that are about as genuinely PRO-LIFE as you can get!

This is the only "explanation" you need...

[Kevin] Jennings Must Speak Out on his Role in Radical Group ACT UP [FRC]

...Family Research Council staffers! And if you should require further questioning, turn not to Kevin Jennings. Instead turn to the twenty-years-younger versions of yourselves, and ask what you and your evangelical troops were doing to stop a plague!


**ALSO: It must be noted that MassResistance, the group who Family Research Council credits as providing them with this information about Kevin Jennings, is designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Perhaps we should force FRC to speak out on their role with this radical group!

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Your thoughts

While ignoring the homophobes is probably Jennings best defense, and there certainly is no reason for him to engage them in their smear the queer campaign, I would suspect that any response from Jennings on the subject of ACT UP would only benefit him. You have, quite eloquently, summed up the rational behind ACT UP, and the facts are what they are.. people were dying, elected officials weren't caring, the religionistas were painting "god's" target on our backs, and ACT UP did keep the story in the news, and did get crucial drug testing laws revised to the benefit, not only of AIDS sufferers.

Jennings, more than most, could quite ably make an impassioned case for why ACT UP was not only beneficial, but necessary. And, if any of the fundies ever listen to anyone other than the lying liars, then even they might realize that attacking him on the basis of supporting ACT UP is at best misguided, and downright sinister at worst.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Oct 18, 2009 2:43:47 PM

I say Jennings should ignore them but we shouldn't.Based on how they have lied about him, Jennings doesn't need to do a thing to please FRC. After the Brewster mess, they have too much baggage for us not to take advantage.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Oct 18, 2009 7:45:17 PM

From FRC's article:

"As we are taught in Galatians 6:10, doing "good unto all" is the biblical standard, not doing "good" only to secular, politically-approved causes. It is by that measure that God's people will be evaluated on the Final Day."

Wow, hypocritical much? They are telling people to avoid secular volunteer organizations while at the same time telling people not to limit their scope of volunteer organizations. I guess "unto all" doesn't include the non-religious.

Posted by: Megan | Oct 19, 2009 2:26:55 PM

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