Two Hate Groups Smear GLBT Youth Organization with Pamphlet
Two hate groups have targeted a GLBT youth support organization with a video that insinuates that the youth organization created and distributed an informational pamphlet about safer sex to schoolchildren.
ThinkProgress reported on Aug. 9 that that national anti-gay group the Family Research Council and the Massachusetts-based fringe right organization MassResistance have produced a video that implies the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is responsible for a pamphlet geared toward providing fact-based safer sex information to gay male adults.
"FRC and MR are attacking GLSEN for a publication called the ’Little Black Book,’ describing it as ’the most vile assault on teenagers ever concocted by homosexual activists,’ " the posting reported.
"When MassResistance president Brian Camenker says it helps men find places to meet other men? He’s distorting the fact that it merely lists community resources, health clinics, and gay bars," the posting continues. "Surely a booklet listing bars is not designed for ’5th through 9th graders.’ "
The FRC was co-founded by Alan Rekers, who has made a career of working against GLBT equality. Among other things, Rekers has testified in court against gays wishing to gain the legal right to adopt children. Rekers also has claimed to have successfully treated an "effeminate" boy he refers to in his writings as "Kraig." Based on his "success" with "Kraig," Rekers has claimed that homosexuality can be "cured."
CNN reported in June that In the 1970s, Rekers treated a boy named Kirk Murphy, whose parents were worried that he was too "effeminate." Rekers’ course of treatment included having Kirk’s parents beat him if he acted too much like a girl, and reward him for "masculine" behavior. As a young man in his 20s, Kirk came out as gay. At age 38, he committed suicide.
"As recently as 2009, a book Rekers co-authored, ’Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions,’ cites Kraig’s case as a success," the CNN article reported. "That was six years after Kirk Murphy took his own life."
Rekers also created headlines last year when it became known that he had hired a 20-year-old make escort from the website RentBoy.com to accompany him on a European vacation. Though Rekers continues to deny that any sexual contact took place between him and the escort, the young man told the media that his duties included administering daily erotic massages to Rekers.
MassResistance has made GLBTs a target for an array of wild assertions, many of them promoting the idea that gays endanger children. Among other claims, MassResistance has repeated falsehoods concerning GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings, who went on to serve the Obama Administration as an assistant deputy secretary of education. Fringe right groups, including MassResistance, spread the fiction that Jennings promoted pedophile sex. Among the allegations was a widely reported rumor that when Jennings was a teacher in Massachusetts, he knew of a 15-year-old student who was having sexual relations with an older man.
The student in question -- now a young man -- stepped forward to clarify that he and the older man had not had sexual relations. He moreover pointed out that at the time in question, he was 16 -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.
But the facts, once revealed, did not stop the allegations from being repeated, and no retraction or apology was ever offered.
Similarly, the suggestion that the "Little Black Book" was produced and / or distributed by GLSEN has long been disproven. A Dec. 10, 2009, Pam’s House Blend posting reported that the pamphlet had been taken to a GLSEN event at a high school by a participating organization, Fenway Community Health, in 2005.
The Pam’s House Blend referred to a May 19, 2005, Boston Globe article that reported that the pamphlet was produced by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Although the pamphlet was designed and intended for gay men 18 and older, an individual affiliated with Fenway Community Health took about 10 copies of the pamphlet to the event. School officials said they did not believe any students had taken a copy.
"Fenway Community Health regrets accidentally making available a small number of copies of the Little Black Book, an HIV-prevention publication for gay and bisexual men over the age of 18, at an event where young people were present," the head of Fenway Community Health, Dr. Stephen Boswell, said at the time in a statement.
But the facts of the matter have not slowed down MassResistance and the FRC. Both organizations were classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center for disseminating false and inflammatory stories about the GLBT community.
In addition to smearing GLSEN with a safer sex publication the GLBT youth advocacy organization did not produce and did not attempt to distribute, MassResistance has infiltrated GLSEN events. An individual associated with the anti-gay group infiltrated what was supposed to have been a confidential and frank forum for gay teens to air their concerns. Despite wiretapping laws prohibiting such actions, the infiltrator surreptitiously recorded some of what was said by teens and by several employees of the Massachusetts state health department, including a discussion that touched upon the sexual practice of fisting.
That recording was later played on a talk radio program. No charges were filed despite wiretapping laws having been violated, and the fringe right has made a cause célèbre of the incident ever since, referring to it as "Fistgate" and continually blaming Jennings and GLSEN, even though neither Jennings nor any GLSEN staff was present at the forum.
MassResistance took similar aim at Six Flags amusement park last summer, attempting to portray a gay-inclusive family day as a sinister occasion at which children were potentially at risk. Text at the event’s website promised, "Out In The Park is a day of Thrills, Music, Entertainment, and Friends!" MassResistance made the day, which was intended as a celebration for gay parents and their children, sound like a paradise for pedophiles.
The Six Flags "Gay Day" was targeted by MassResistance days in advance. The group posted an item at the MassResistance website on Sept. 17, 2010, that declared, "there’s something about children’s activities, such as amusement parks (and public schools, parades, etc.) that attracts the homosexual movement in an obsessive and disturbing way."
The group’s own obsession with gay individuals and their families has been a characteristic of MassResistance since its founding in the wake of marriage equality, which Massachusetts made legal seven years ago. In that time, seven other states have followed suit, though ballot initiatives in two of those states -- Maine and California -- have rescinded marriage rights for gay and lesbian families, many of whom have children.
MassResistance has been criticized for its employees taking photos of schoolchildren, particularly at GLBT youth events. In 2008, a MassResistance employee was placed under arrest for taking pictures of children, following complaints by parents. That same year, MassResistance was added to the list of "Active U.S. Hate Groups" maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has also actively opposed legislation aimed at countering bullying in schools.
The fact that children were present at the "Out in the Park" event -- "Gay Days" is a separate annual event that takes place at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and at Disney World in Orlando, Florida -- drove MassResistance to an even higher level of hysteria. Despite the fact that the event was touted as being for "friends, family and supporters," and that "All [were] welcome to attend," MassResistance insinuated in an Oct. 17, 2010, follow-up posting that the event was not suitable for children.
The anti-gay group played up the very fact that gay parents brought their children along, suggesting that unsavory motives were at work and posting a snippet from a Bay Windows column that remarked on "the presence of so many children who seemed so happy to be surrounded by so many LGBT adults who not only seemed quite adept at having fun themselves in large numbers (without a police officer or drunken fistfight in sight), but who also seemed so ready to shower on kids the kind of attention that makes kids feel special in ways that kids need to feel as much as possible."
The column -- "Reality Check," written by Bay Windows contributing editor Jeff Epperly -- contrasted the safe, happy day of family fun shared at Six Flags by gays and their children to the predations of the Catholic Church’s clerics, noting fresh revelations in the ongoing global scandal and positing that, "It is they -- the fundamentalist ministers, youth pastors, and priests -- who need to be kept away from the children. Can there really be any doubt about this any longer?"
The Bay Windows column celebrated the family-friendly event’s wholesome atmosphere. "Everywhere you looked there was some LGBT adult interacting with children in the most harmless and loving ways you can imagine: taking them on rides, buying them treats, taking a real and completely innocent interest in them and whether they were having enough fun," Epperly wrote.
But the fact that GLBT and supportive straight adults had included their children in the amusement park’s day for the GLBT community was used as evidence of the dark "obsession" of which MassResistance had accused the gay community from the outset. The anti-gay group claimed that activities provided for GLBT youths were part of a "fanatical push to get into the public schools" by gay adults.
"The ’Little Black Book’ is not a pamphlet for everyone, and it’s not a pamphlet for kids," noted the ThinkProgress article. "It’s still a resource designed to improve health and teach safe sex to gay men. That these two hate groups would use this to attack an organization that had nothing to do with it shows how insidious their efforts are to demonize and disparage the LGBT community."