Howl of the KweerWolf

My Photo
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

All this time I thought it was gay men who invented the concept of 'fashionably late'

Sometimes I just don't get straight folks. I honestly don't.

I'm not talking about the straight allies who understand that the struggle for gay rights is a struggle for human rights. Nor am I talking about the unrepentant homophobes who think that those homo-seck-shuls have all the rights they need and probably need to have some taken away from 'em.

What I don't get are the vast numbers of straight folks in the middle who don't give much thought at all to gay rights. Sure, they might get misty-eyed watching "The Laramie Project" and think for a moment how it's wrong to beat up gay people and leave them tied to a fence in the middle of nowhere. But when it comes to issues like employment, housing, inheritance, marriage, and just about any other right that would insure we can live free from harassment and discrimination, they seem always too busy organizing neighborhood garage sales and car pools to pay much attention.

Take yesterday for example. Someone posted a link to an article from on a Democratic Underground message board. The article, Gay Protests Target Funerals of Soldiers Killed in Iraq, detailed how notoriously homophobic "preacher" Fred Phelps and his inbred traveling freak show of family members from Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church have begun traveling around the country picketing the funerals of soldiers who have died in Iraq.

"They turned America over to fags; they're coming home in body bags," said a flyer announcing Saturday's picket at services for Army Staff Sgt. Asbury Hawn II at First United Methodist Church in Smyrna, Tenn.

"The God they say that blesses America also can curse America, and is cursing America in a mighty way," Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the church's pastor, Fred Phelps, said of nearby counter-protestors and by-passers in cars shouting comments at the small group carrying picket signs like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "God is America's Terrorist."

The Democratic Underground is normally a pretty safe place to be liberal. Oh, sure, there are occasionally a "liberaler than thou" pissing contests that breaks out and then there are a few trolling Freepers (what folks on the DU call their opposite numbers who post on the extreme right-wing Free Republic web site) who cause problems from time to time. But for the most part, those who post on the DU are a friendly, progressive bunch.

But when some of the straight folks read about Phelps picketing soldiers' funerals you'd have thought you landed in the middle of a Free Republic hatefest for HillarClintonon. He are just a few of the comments:

"These people are insane. They are picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers spewing that the deaths are occurring as a result of America's 'tolerance' of homosexuality."

"We need to drop those ignorant idiots on a deserted island somewhere...
OMG! They are......I have no words."

"It's because of people like this that, yes, I am ASHAMED to be an American."

"Heaven forbid, my family is faced with this situation, these picketers would be hurt - or worse - by a group of very peaceful, sweet family and friends. Including, or, especially, my women friends."

Suddenly people are OUTRAGED at Phelps and his miscreants.

So where have this folks been? Where the fuck was their outrage when Phelps was "only" targeting gays? He was certainly in the news enough that even heterosexuals with no connection to the LGBT community would have noticed him. But now that he's picketing soldiers' funerals, some straight folks are suddenly "discovering" Fred Phelps. Were they completely oblivious to his anti-gay message before? Did they tacitly agree with it? Or did they just not give a rat's ass because Phelps wasn't bothering normal people?

There are a lot of straight allies I absolutely adore ... but sometimes I just don't understand some heterosexuals.

I suppose I should be more charitable to those who come later to the realization that gay rights are human rights. Coming to that realization late is better than not coming to the realization at all.

But there's a resentful part of me that wants to shake them and say, "Damn! What the hell took you so long?"


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Theocratic slimeball gets in touch with his 'inner-terrorist'

Fatwa is a word used in Islamic countries to describe a legal opinion or decree handed down by an Islamic religious leader. In America, where we (at least for now) have a wall separating the functions of government from those of religion, we have no fatwas. Or maybe we do. The difference is that here they don't carry the force of law as they do in Islamic country.

Consider this taken from an Associated Press report:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson called on Monday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a "terrific danger" to the United States.

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, said on "The 700 Club" it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Most Americans have grown so accustomed to Robertson's rantings that they are likely to dismiss even his most outlandish pronouncements. After all, Robertson has made some doozies over the past few decades.

"We have enough votes to run the country. And when the people say, 'We've had enough,' we are going to take over," he said at an April 1980 "Washington for Jesus" rally, apparently not caring that he was treading close to advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government and replacing a democracy with a theocracy.

Just don't accuse him of trying to eliminate the separation of church and state. Robertson has made comments about that as well. "There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore," he told the American Center for Law and Justice in November 1993 (apparently choosing to ignore the line in the First Amendment about Congress making no law to respecting an establishment of religion.

And what brief compendium of Robertson's ravings would be complete without gems like these:

"If the widespread practice of homosexuality will bring about the destruction of your nation, if it will bring about terrorist bombs, if it'll bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, it isn't necessarily something we ought to open our arms to." (from his Aug. 6, 1998 "The 700 Club" program)

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians." (from a 1992 fundraising letter)

"The public education movement has also been an anti-Christian movement... We can change education in America if you put Christian principles in and Christian pedagogy in. In three years, you would totally revolutionize education in America." (from his Sept. 27, 1992, "The 700 Club" program)

On and on and on it goes, culminating (at least for now) with Robertson's advocacy of assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Understandably, Venezuela's government is miffed that Robertson would call for the elimination of its leader. (Quite possibly America's covert intelligence community is royally pissed, too, since it's highly possible that they may have been plotting just such an assassination for the pre-Castro Chavez.)

Perhaps the best articulation of Venezuela's response to Robertson's "Christian fatwa" was this from the AP story:

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Venezuela was studying its legal options, adding that how Washington responds to Robertson's comments would put its anti-terrorism policy to the test.

"The ball is in the U.S. court, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country," Rangel told reporters. "It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country, there are entirely terrorist statements like those."

Indeed the ball is in the U.S.'s court now and Rangel rightly points to the hypocrisy of BushCo going after terrorism abroad while ignoring it within the U.S. borders. If Bush really wants to the rest of the world to believe that his Middle Eastern occupation is against terrorism and not Islam, he'll frogmarch Robertson right out of the country and into the waiting arms of Venezuelan authorities. Let Bush show the world that America is as serious about terrorists within its own borders as it is when the terrorist has darker skin and an accent.

And as for Robertson, Venezuela can toss him in a cell where cellmates Juan and Pedro can take turns with his pasty, sagging, wrinkled ass and then put him against a wall in front of a firing squad. Seems to me that if he's half the Christian he claims to be, he'll welcome a chance to die a martyr's death for what he believes in.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Ongoing Saga of Trials of My Online Gay Life Part 2: "Net-imacy"

It happened again just last week. Someone I haven't met except through on-line conversations decided he "loved" me.

Sure, it's flattering to be judged worthy of love. But it's also just a bit creepy, too, when that judgment comes from someone you've never met face-to-face.

The internet, with its myriad chatrooms and online personals, gets lots of attention as a haven for men (and its share of women, as well) who are compulsive sex addicts constantly cruising for the next "fix" of sex. But there are also plenty of people out there looking to score their drug of choice: "love."

There's a big difference between "love" found online and the emotional state of being that philosophers and poets have written about for millennia. Real love requires real intimacy ... the authentic connection between two people. Finding love online requires "net-imacy" ... the perceived connection between two people. Real intimacy happens naturally between two people, almost without their conscious awareness. "Net-imacy" happens when a person (or sometimes both people) want it to happen. And when they want it, it happens instantly.

Just as sex addicts can get their "fix" from a sexual encounter, love-junkies obtain their drug of choice by falling in love. And make no mistake, when it comes down to the molecular level of chemical reactions within the brain, there's little difference between injecting heroin directly into the bloodstream and falling in "love."

Consider this from Duke University's The Chronicle:

Like drugs of abuse - which are Dr. [Colin] Davidson's specialty - romantic love also increases activity in the braindopaminemine reward circuitry. "In the brain you've got a number of neurochemical pathways, each not specific for one behavior or emotion," Dr. Davidson says. "Dopamine, for example, is involved in drug use, has relevance in depression, schizophrenia, and lots of relevance in Parkinson's. From a neurochemical perspective, dopamine is involved in drug abuse," he says.

Call me cynical (though I much prefer the word "experienced"), but when someone claims to fall in love based on a few online conversations with another person, I'm more than a bit suspicious. It has a lot more to do with that persons need for self-esteem and his or her need to feel a romantic rush of dopamine than it does with what French romantic novelist George Sand had in mind when she wrote: "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved."

While the idea of romantic love grew orenaissancesaince tales of chivalry and noble knights and their ladies, it's perpetuated today by our modern troubadours - songwriters. Ever listen to a love song in any genre of music? Chances are the first songs that pop into your head aren't about love, but falling in love ... that giddy, rush of emotions that's equal parts lust and wish fulfillment. Take the old standard "Strangers in the Night" for instance. Two strangers locked eyes across a crowded room and begin "wondering in the night what were the chances we'd be sharing love before the night was through." Suddenly there's the possibility that "love is just a glance away, a warm embrancing dance away."

Had "Strangers in the Night" really been about love, it would have at least given a nod to the morning after ... how one partner hogged all the blankets after a night of passion and the other partner farted in his or her sleep, but they both decided to accept each others' faults and vowed to stay together anyway.

We're conditioned to want to fall in love. It's part of our modern mythology in songs and books and movies. The trouble is that falling in love isn't the same thing as being in love. Falling in love involves picturing your potential partner in your bed engaging in wild, passionate, sheet-ripping sex. Being in love involves picturing your partner's head on the pillow next to you every morning for the rest of your life.

Net-imacy encourages people to fall in love ... continually. And then move on to the next person once the rush is gone. Intimacy, on the other hand, encourages people to grow with one person continually ... and to continually find new ways to be in love with that person.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

The cult of masculinity

Earlier this month Robb Willer, a sociology doctoral candidate at Cornell University, published a report with the unassuming academically-suitable title of "Overdoing Gender: Testing the Masculine Overcompensation Thesis."

That's not to say that Willer's research findings are as staid as the title. Quite the contrary. Willer found out that when you question or in some way threaten a guy's masculinity, he'll get in touch with his inner-Rambo and go all macho on yo' ass.

It's not that Willer's research should be surprising in its conclusions. Ever see two grade school boys engage in a "my dad can beat up your dad" argument? Ever been a junior high school boy who's terrified on that first day of dressing out for gym that his dick might be smaller than someone else's? Ever roll your eyes when two grown men try to convince each other that their SUV is bigger and better? It's all the same thing.

According to the Cornell press release announcing Willer's findings:

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq War more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Robb Willer, a sociology doctoral candidate at Cornell. Willer is presenting his findings Aug. 15 at the American Sociological Association's 100th annual meeting in Philadelphia.

"Masculine overcompensation is the idea that men who are insecure about their masculinity will behave in an extremely masculine way as compensation. I wanted to test this idea and also explore whether overcompensation could help explain some attitudes like support for war and animosity to homosexuals," Willer said.

So if men insecure about their masculinity tend to be more homophobic, what happens when you have gay men who overcompensate for their masculinity?

The answer is simple. You get the "bear" movement.

In general, bears are men who are the antithesis of the usual stereotype of gay men. Where the stereotype calls for gay men to be young, flawlessly sculpted and willing to suffer any draconian cosmetic remedy to remove unsightly body hair, bears are generally older, more "full-figured," and glory in the ability to grown a beard, a healthy thatch of chest hair and even the dreaded back hair that would make most gym-bunnies cringe.

During the '70s the young gym-bunnies - what are contemptuously known among the bears as "twinks" - were the gold standard. If an advertisement in The Advocate or one of the other gay magazines featured a male, invariably his shirt would be unbuttoned to show off a glorious expanse of smooth, tanned, bare skin. In this wilderness of hairless skin and six-pack abs arose the bear movement.

The twink culture, with its attempts to look forever teetering just on the verge of puberty, drew the ire of the bears whose battle cry was "Real men! Masculine men! WOOF!"

And thus was born the bear movement. And it was good ... for a while.

Feeling they had been excluded by mainstream gay culture, the bears went overboard on being inclusive. Sure there were (and still are) efforts to define just what constitutes a "bear." The best example of the movement trying to define itself is the introduction to the BML, or Bears Mailing List, a popular e-mail digest among the bear community, in which the moderator throws up his hands and makes the statement, "If you think you're a bear, you're a bear."

During the late '80s and '90s, while AIDS was cutting a wide swath through the gay community, suddenly bears became trendy. The skinny gym-boy look was out. Starving and exercising oneself to the point of emaciation made one look more like someone in the last stages of AIDS. Having a spare tire (or a whole set of tires) around the midsection was starting to look like a healthy alternative.

With its new popularity, the bear movement went from being a subculture to having its own flag (a brown and beige and white flag that twinkie-ish decorators might charitably describe as "heavy on the earth tones"); its own venues and bars that are as well known for its clients' open hostility to the occasional smooth-skinned, Izod-wearing twink who wonders in by mistake as they are for the bears who comprise their clientele; and its own gatherings. These gatherings have grown in popularity and number. Almost any large metropolitan area plays host to an annual bear event where bears from all over come to socialize and frolic.

For bears, the definition of socializing and frolicking has apparently been updated to "fucking indiscriminately." Granted, there are some bears who go to socialize in the old-fashioned sense; but the majority are more concerned with bed-hopping in an environment awash with testosterone.

The the first (and last!) time I attended a bear event was an eye-opening experience. Free from the normal restraints society imposes, most of the bears believed that if you were in attendance, you were fair game. To be groped by a stranger was the norm. To show resistance to having someone who hasn't taken the time to at least introduce himself placing a hand on your crotch or ass could quickly result in being labeled a "tease" or an "ice queen."

Like the members of the ursine order from whom the bears took their name, the bears at the event were predatory and didn't seem to care who their next conquest came from. If you were within a paw's reach, you would welcome the attention of a grope.

I went into the event thinking I was a bear. I was, after all, big, burly and bearded. I left the event thinking I had been mislead. "Bear," it seemed, wasn't named in honor of the hirsute forest denizen. Instead it came to be an acronym for "bitchy, egotistical, arrogant and rude."

The bear movement as it is today is nothing like the original bear movement. Back then it was about joining together to share something in common. It was open and accepting. But this openness and acceptance spelled the doom for the original bear movement. As it became trendy to be a bear, more and more people who wouldn't have given the bear movement a second thought before were clamoring to be let in. "I think I'm a bear, so I must be a bear ... so you gotta let me in!" they seemed to say. Into the movement poured new members attracted not by anything bearish, but by the attraction of being part of the new "in" thing. Many of these were the aging "twinks" who desperately wanted to fit in somewhere now that wrinkles and sagging pecs had cancelled their membership in twinkish circles.

Once on the inside, they did what they had done as twinks: decide who was and wasn't part of the "in" crowd. Suddenly the BML was filled with catfights over the definition of a "bear." Bear clubs developed pecking orders. You had the bears at the top of the heap. Underneath them were the "not really bears" who were tolerated as long as they realized their role was subordinant to the "real" bears. Then there were the lowest of the low ... the "nelly bears." These were the guys who just didn't measure up to the standards of masculinity.

I remember standing around the bar after a meeting of the local bear club. (Yes, I was a member at one time.) The guy standing next to me was decked out in full leather gear - what I prefer to call "leather drag" - and bitching about the preponderance of "nelly bears" at a function he attended in St. Louis. The guy - a excellent example of the aging twink late-comers to the bear movement - was pontificating about nelly bears in a voice that could easily be mistaken for Truman Capote on helium.

Where once the bear movement was about acceptance, it has been transformed into a cult of masculinity. One of the major drawbacks to bear clubs is exactly what draws a certain crowd to the clubs: unbridled masculinity. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating meetings where we flail our wrists like flags in the breeze; but it seems that so often the most negative and destructive "masculine" traits get trotted out and rewarded. The testosterone gets flowing and pretty soon you've got a group full of guys who seem more like straight teenagers in a locker room than mature gay men. All that male competitiveness kicks in and before long you've got guys preening in front of the magic mirror to determine who's the butchest of them all. In high school, if you're not at the top of the pecking order, you get called faggot, fairy, or sissy. Apparently in the world of bears, you just get referred to as "nelly."

It would be interesting if one day Robb Willer could conduct a study of masculinity on guys who identify as bears. I have a hunch I know what he'd find. When bears' masculinity is questioned, they don't go out an buy SUVs. They get nelly-phobic and look for what they perceive as the weakest, less-masculine members to ostracize.

Seems rather pointless. But then so does the whole bear movement these days.

It reminds me of what a friend - one who was without doubt the kind of gay man most bears would describe as "nelly" - once told me: "Honey, just how 'butch' do you think you look with a guy's dick in your mouth?"


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Re-inventing ourselves for a new generation

A recent issue of the national LGBT magazine The Advocate contained an article on how a growing number of the younger generation of gays, lesbians and bisexuals shy away from defining their sexual orientation with labels like gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Instead, they opt to call themselves ... well, they prefer NOT to call themselves anything when it comes to their orientation.

One of the theories postulated in the article is that younger LGBT&Q's (or perhaps as they would prefer it "the younger *s") reject words like gay and lesbian because they carry a connotation of politics. "Some of them are not political," according to Bill Leap, an anthropology professor quoted in the article who holds the annual Lavender Language and Linguistics conference. "They're saying, 'I don't see anything political about sucking dick.'"

It seems times have changed. I remember a post-Stonewall political tract from the mid-'70s titled: "Sucking cock as an act of political revolution."

On the surface, Leap may have a point. There does seem to be an increase in the number of LGBTs in the 20-something generation - oops! make that *s - who describe themselves as non-political. I tested that idea out recently on the web site where members can post profiles that include their choice of politics. The choices range from "way left" to "way right" with additional categories for "avoids politics" and "prefer not to answer." Using's search function, I searched for profiles of members who avoid politics. Nearly half of the members selected this (while a little over 35 percent leaning to the left and the rest leaning to the right). These figures don't include the members who preferred not to answer that section of their online profiles.

While it's far from a scientific conclusion, it does point to a trend among LGBTs (and the *s) to generally avoid political labels. It's little wonder that growing numbers refuse to identify themselves by their politics. Leaning right is associated with the Republicans and the rabidly anti-gay sentiments of a large part of its constituency. To lean left is to be associated with the Democrats, a slightly more gay-friendly bunch, but after watching John Kerry flip-flop on the marriage issue in the 2004 campaign (not to mention Bill Clinton's wooing and then abandoning LGBTs during his presidency) it's little wonder LGBTs and *s feel like the girl brought to the dance by the dashing captain of the football team only to be ditched for a prettier girl. This is especially true for the *s who often lack the historical perspective of their older counterparts and haven't seen the progress made since the Stonewall riots.

That doesn't mean they aren't political ... only that they refuse to label their political beliefs along the Republican-Democratic continuum.

I think that illustrates the reason why growing numbers of *s don't identify with the established L-, G-, B-, or T- words. They are reacting with frustration to the growing sense of the "community" becoming Balkanized worse than Eastern Europe during the 1960s.

Consider this:

After the Stonewall riots that marked the birth of the modern gay movement in 1969, we were all "gay." It was an all-encompassing word to identify what is known today as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

Then, as more and more same-sex-loving women joined the movement, it became "gay and lesbian." The Gay Liberation Front eventually morphed into today's National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. It was about inclusion and, since lesbians had a different perspective and different priorities than gay men, "G" became "G and L."

Next came the "B" as bi-sexuals who didn't identify as gay or lesbian, yet weren't considered heterosexual. After that came transgenders and the definition changed from not only what we did with our body parts and who we chose for partners, but to how we perceived our gender identity.

During the 1980s and '90s the term "queer" came into vogue. For some, it was an attempt to find one inclusive word meant to define us as different from the prevailing heterosexual model. But while younger activists latched onto "queer," older members of the community recoiled in horror at a word they'd only known as a slur.

So now we're up to LGBT&Q (which sounds a bit like one of the Monopoly railroads), but we're not done yet. Younger people who were exploring their sexual orientation were known as "questioning." Add another letter to the acronym; but how to write it? Were we now LGBTQ&Q? LGBT&Q/Q? LGBT&Qx2? LGBT&Q-squared?

Regardless of how we arranged all those letters, we couldn't come up with a single pronounceable acronym. In the interest of being inclusive - a worthy goal - we ended up with a mouthful of letters that left one short of breath by the time all of them had been reeled off.

As if the intra-letter dynamics didn't make it hard enough hold all those diverse letters together, we began to see inter-letter divisions as well. If you were an "L," you could be a femme lipstick lesbian or a butch diesel dyke or a baby dyke or a rebel grrrrl. The "G"s were even worse. They divided up along the lines of homebodies and club kids, bears and twinks, jocks and geeks, punks and preppies. Just about any group could be counted on to have its polar opposite among the Gs. If you were a "B," you could be mostly opposite-sex oriented or mostly same-sex oriented or any other permutation you can imagine. And among the "T"s there were lines of demarcation between those born with some degree of both genders physically and those whose gender identity didn't match their physical bodies ... not to mention the differing issues between male-to-female and female-to-males transexuals.

No one was just gay anymore. In the interest of pitching a big tent to be all-inclusive and politically correct, we began the process of hyphenating the community to death. Where once we had "camp," as in campy humor, now we have camps, as in warring camps ready to battle each other at the slightest whim or the whimsiest slight.

It's little wonder that the *s are having none of it. They may not know what they want to call themselves, but they can look at the previous generation and see a path they don't want to follow.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Summer of hate

Just a few blocks from where I live - on the funky, trendy, Bohemian 39th Street "restaurant row" here in Kansas City - two lesbians were assaulted by a woman who jumped out of a pickup truck with a baseball bat. The apparent reason? The two women were holding hands.

Kansas City isn't a stranger to hate crimes. A little over a decade ago I volunteered on the first anti-violence hotline here and took calls from gays and lesbians who had been harassed by cops, had rocks thrown at their door by others in their apartment complexes, had trash set on fire and thrown into their yard by homophobic neighbors, been harassed by employers, been fired, been threatened, been screamed at, been beaten. All because they were gay or lesbian.

But this summer is different.

Not just here in Kansas City, but all over the country. In Lakeland, Fla., two gay men returned to find their home burglarized, set on fire and a "Die Fags!" message left behind. Near the gay-friendly community of Palm Springs, Calif., two 13-year-old girls were charged with painting anti-gay slurs over homes, vehicles and driveways because they knew there was a gay couple living in the neighborhood. Less than a week later a Jewish synagogue was also vandalized. In Montrose, Colo., two men were arrested in the murder of a gay man. (In shades of the Matthew Shepherd case, they claimed the victim tried to "molest" them.) In the Chicago area two young men barely out of their teens are charged with assaulting two teenage girls who they had tried to pick up. The girls had told them they weren't interested in dating them because they were lesbians. In Los Angeles, the ACLU stepped in when reports surfaced about jail guards harassing gay prisoners. New York City has recorded over 100 anti-gay bias crimes so far this summer.

This summer it's apparently open season on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.

If it wasn't so scary, it would remind me of an old Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon in which one deer notices that the other has marking that resemble a target. "Bummer of a birthmark," he tells his friend.

Being openly gay in the summer of 2005 is a lot like having a target painted on your back.

The LGBT community is much more visible now. Add to that the news coverage of gay issues. Now add the hate-mongering stirred up by right-wing preachers and politicians and you have a potent, toxic brew.

News item: President Bush tells Southern Baptists at the denomination's conference that he continues to support a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

News item: The Phoenix Catholic diocese announces it will not allow pro-gay rights and pro-abortion politician to use its property.

News item: Missouri Governor Matt Blunt (our own version of "idiot son" Bush) appoints the homophobic former state legislator who spearheaded the anti-gay marriage initiative here last August to head the Missouri Women's Council.

News item: The Hillsborough County, Fla., commission voted to "abstain from acknowledging, promoting and participating" in gay pride events.

News item: When a Jacksonville, Fla., newspaper ran a wedding announcement for a lesbian couple who were married in Canada, 80 percent of the readers who contacted the newspaper expressed outrage at the decision to publish it.

News item: Washington, D.C., minister the Rev. Willie Wilson used the pulpit to decry what he believes is an increase in lesbianism among young blacks girls. He later issues a half-hearted apology for the statement, then reiterates his original statement in a later sermon.

I could go on and on. And that's the problem. The list really could go on and on when it comes to the institutional gay bashing that's come from the pulpits and all levels of government this summer.

On the web site for my LGBT Democratic club I track news items on LGBT interest from around the country. I post news items and let the old ones cycle through for a while, depending on the space I have allocated for the news items and links. It used to be that many news items would stay listed for several weeks. Now I'm considering using a smaller type size so I can fit in the abundance of news. Not all of it is "bad" news. Some is quite positive. But it's the bad news that is scary. Lately there have been an average of two of three gay bashings a week ... and that's just the reported ones that I find in a quick search of the news.

If there's one thing I learned from a couple of years on the anti-violence hotline it's that gay bashings go hand-in-hand with increased coverage of gay issues in the media. That's why June, with its coverage of gay pride celebrations, is often a particularly bad month for bashings.

Now, with "official" denunciations of the LGBT community from pulpits, city halls, county offices, state capitols, and the nation's capitol ringing throughout the land, low-life thugs have been emboldened to take matters into their own hands and show "them fags and dykes" their place.

To be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is to wear a target on out backs this summer.

It may be small-minded thugs who pull the triggers, but it is the hate-mongering politicians and preachers who load the guns.

The religious and political right has blood on their hands. It's the blood of brave LGBTs who stand up openly and refuse to hide.

May we never forget that.