You will rarely hear spokespeople for right-wing groups, especially the
politically savvy, manipulative ones like the Christian Coalition, overtly
attack lesbians and gay men or say they hate us. Instead, they often use the
common language of modern American political discourse, full of apparent
tolerance and seemingly rational words. Don't be deceived, however.
A common body of code words has arisen; any press release by these groups
dealing with the issue of homosexuality is likely to contain the words and
phrases below. If you can use all the words below in a paragraph, you'll always
have a job -- as a speechwriter for Pat Robertson! The real purpose of this
slanted, prejudicial use of the language is to demonize homosexuality in a
casual reader's or listener's mind. It's the opposite of truth, the enemy of
free enquiry. One the most vexing aspects of the Radical Right is that they are
such inveterate, pathological liars.
For example, take this little blurb:
"We respect the right of adults in America who choose the
gay lifestyle. However, we do not believe that sexual preference should be
grounds to receive special rights from the government. Parents have the right
to protect their children from those who would flaunt their immoral
This idea implies that gays and lesbians choose to be gay or lesbian.
This is an important issue, because poll after poll has shown that Americans
are more likely to support equal rights for lesbians and gays if they believe
it is an natural condition -- which it assuredly is -- like eye color or
left-handedness. The Radical Right knows this, which is why they use word
"choice" so often, because they are against equal rights for all
The Radical Right uses this phrase when it refers to what most other Americans
would consider equal rights under our Consitution and system of laws: the right
not to be discriminated against because of who one is! It's effective, because
most people are reluctant to support "special" rights for anyone. This phrase
is often used in the standard Radical Right response to gay-rights initiatives
or anti-discrimination laws. The truth is that lesbians and gay men do
not seek "special" rights; we seek only those very same rights that
the majority society has.
Of course there is no "gay lifestyle" in reality, just as there is no "straight
lifestyle". Gay men and lesbians live the same lives as most Americans do:
working, shopping, getting educated, attending religious services, going to the
movies, etc. However, by using the term "lifestyle," the Radical Right hopes to
make average Americans think of the stereotypical, theatrical outfits you see
once a year during Pride parades. Furthermore, actual lifestyles are matters
of personal choice and preference, which the Radical Right wants to link with
us in peoples' minds: see "choice" above and "sexual preference" below.
This is a loaded term that refers to those oh-so-pushy queers who just shove
themselves down everyone's throat by doing things like holding hands in public,
having a picture of their spouse at work, mentioning their significant other in
conversation, or heaven knows, even getting married. You know, the stuff
heterosexuals do every day. At issue here is the Radical Right's exploitation
of our general invisibility and of the majority population's lack of awareness
of its own social patterns and privileges.
This is a phrase used under the assumption that even if homosexuality is OK for
adults, we must protect children from seeing or hearing or learning about it
lest they "turn" gay. The phrase rests on many false assumptions, including the
"recruiting" myth (see below) and willful ignorance of the fact that over 99%
of all pedophiles are actually heterosexual men preying on little girls. In
addition, many gay and lesbian people are themselves parents, and it is
monstrous to suggest that their sexuality makes them unfit parents; everyone
knows that the most important thing to a child is be wanted and to be loved,
and those of us who are parents do love our own children.
When you hear this, think nuclear family. Better, think nuclear family with
Christian Coalition membership; PFLAG parents certainly don't count! Arrogant
co-optation of the word "family" by the Radical Right to exclude everyone who
doesn't agree with them politically is anti-democratic and truly despicable.
They seek to disenfranchise anyone who opposes their backward, bigoted views.
A code phrase meaning "the right of parents to raise their kids to be as
bigoted as they are" -- something most of us regrettably accept as part of
America. However, the Radical Right wants to go further by forcing the public
schools to assist them in their efforts, and is supporting efforts to change
the law to make that easier. When you hear "parents' rights" just imagine Pat
Robertson as your little girl's kindly kindergarten teacher, instilling in her
fear and hatred of anything not like herself. Here too, the rhetoric flies in
the fact of the obvious fact that many of us are also parents, parents whose
rights and very humanity the Radical Right, however, seeks to abbrogate.
This may come as news to those of us who may have spent years coming to terms
with our sexual orientations, but according to the bigots we don't have an
orientation at all; rather, we have a sexual "preference." This is another way
the Radical Right tries to reinforce their opinion that being gay or lesbian is
some type of conscious decision. The truth is that being gay or lesbian is an
essential and completely natural part of our humanity. A "preference" is
whether one wants chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
One of the oldest myths of the Radical Right holds that gays must recruit
children to "become" gay. Imagine the posters: "You too can become an unpopular
minority!" It is important always to re-assert the fact that one does not
choose their orientation. "Recruiting" is a particularly vicious,
A common assertion of the Radical Right is that being gay or lesbian is a
"behavior." This is another side of the "choice" argument. We "choose" to
engage in a "behavior." The hypocrisy is evident in the Radical Right's belief
that we just have sex, while they make love. Using the term
"behavior" seeks to remove any emotion or love from our life experiences, to
manipulate the public into thinking we are unlike from them in this regard. The
truth, of course, is that we are not.
"love the sinner, hate the sin"
This is a common ploy by Radical Right groups who claim that homosexuality is
a sin. They usually preface this lie by stating that they love the sinner
(gays and lesbians) even though they abhor homosexuality. The truth is that
"sin" is a human invention, not a divine one, and being lesbian or gay is a
completely natural phenomenon, rather than a sin.
The Radical Right often argues that homosexuality is unnatural. This ignores
the fact that homosexuality occurs among other species besides humans and that
we exhibit the same natural desire to love as all other humans do. The truth is
that denying all our human aspiration, including the obvious love we feel for
one another, as the Radical Right does, is what's unnatural.
It is usually assumed by the Radical Right that they are upholding "moral
principles," protecting them from some fantasized assault by gays and lesbians.
This is highly insulting, because it implies that the Radical Right has a
patent on morality, which is assuredly not true. Actually, the Radical Right
embraces some of the least moral principles in all of human history.
[Compiled by Mike Silverman, the webmaster of
Turn Out, to whom many thanks for
letting me use it. The changes and additions I've made are my responsibility,
not his, however.]