Columns > HappytownHappytown
Like most thoughtful individualswith hearts that actually beat, we spent a good portion of the past couple of weeks under a pink pall of doom. We doused our melancholia with the requisite six mimosas and a Red Bull to bounce our happy asses around Lake Eola for the Come Out With Pride parade on Sunday, but beneath our self-effacing layers of rhinestoned quippery was a cavernous void rattled with bolts of angry lightning. The recent rash of gay-teen suicides has served as a tipping point for many (including us). We’re past the point of reasoned discussion on this topic. We’re disgusted.
It’s not OK for Ann Coulter to froth at a cheering gay audience that gay marriage is not a civil right “because you’re not black”; or for the conservative pundits to whimper at the notion of gays in the military; or for the state of Florida to consider challenging a court order that overturned the state’s Anita Bryant-fueled ban on gay adoption. Why? Because these are not talking points. They are part of the white noise that seeps into the heads of kids and makes them want to die.
But this isn’t news, really. Every April since 1996 the national Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network has sponsored a National Day of Silence during which kids spend a whole day shutting up at school rather than saying “that’s so gay” or “pick up your books, faggot.” In 2005, the hateful Alliance Defense Fund thought it would be funny to counteract the queer silence with its own Day of Truth initiative, “encouraging conservatively minded teenagers to respectfully engage fellow students in conversations about homosexuality.” Orlando’s own anti-gay brainwashing concentration camp, Exodus International, jumped right on board, even taking the reins from ADF this April to run the event. Boy, we bet they feel really great right about now.
“Even though we have reached a fair number of students,” former boy-liker and president of Exodus International Alan Chambers told CNN last week, “we believe that due to the timing of the event, Day of Truth was always perceived in an adversarial manner and became more about policy than people. That is in conflict with the mission we have chosen to embrace as an organization.”
Nope, your people policy is to fleece folks when they’re at their most vulnerable, Alan. Chambers went on to say that his particularly toxic blend of “compassion, grace and truth” isn’t something suited to just one day, anyway, but rather an exercise that should be practiced every day. So, in other words, it’s not that Exodus regrets encouraging jocks to push fledgling gays back into the closet, he just doesn’t want the group’s name attached to a public event that does this. That way they come up smelling like nice guys – nice guys bathed in lying perfume.
Still, the move that could effectively shut down the event altogether (ADF has yet to say if it’ll keep the hate ball rolling) prompted mild praise from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which told CNN, “I thank Exodus for making this very important step. The Day of Truth was an effort to push a very specific set of opinions about homosexuality into schools in a way that was inappropriate and divisive.”
Speaking of inappropriate, the ADF weighed in with its own statement upon hearing of Chambers’ two-faced mea culpa, saying that “the event was always about the right of students to peacefully express their point of view on the subject of homosexual behavior.”
Or, say, videotape their roommate having a private encounter and then make it available online. It’s a thin line between holy proselytizing and the George Washington Bridge, fools. With all due respect, perhaps Chambers and his ilk should try silence on for a bit, while the rest of us try to figure out how to save the next generation from ourselves.
Just as Orlando’s fears of being ugly and unwanted were assuaged by the recent opening of the Amway Center, so too did the University of Central Florida have its insecurities vaporized by the warm, comforting spotlight of national television last Wednesday.
The occasion was the first weekday home game in the history of the post-stadium Knights, and given the occasion – that is, a weekday with nothing else happening – the game was televised on ESPN. Therefore all classes after 12:20 p.m. were cancelled to give students at least seven hours to pound beers before the game started, so that they’d look real enthusiastic for the cameras. Understandable, because a mere six hours of pre-gaming just doesn’t cut it. And from an ESPN helicopter, drunken fights look like festive dances; projectile vomiting could just as easily be airborne confetti.
We couldn’t help but ask: Was it controversial, you know, canceling all those classes? “Only for a handful of reporters,” quipped UCF spokesman Grant Heston, almost too quickly. He says the event was worked out well in advance, with faculty notified of the cancellation nine months before the game to plan accordingly. Which got us thinking: Why can’t the school run its non-tackle programs this smoothly?
As it turns out, UCF is playing yet another Wednesday game, also on ESPN, perhaps as you read this. This one’s on the road, at Marshall University, which has not canceled classes for the occasion. Where the hell is their pride? They are Marshall!
Another political season, another outsider candidate sore about not being included in the club of good old boys jousting on television in rehearsed repartee. This time it was Libertarian Senate candidate Alex Snitker and his loyal followers, pissed that he wasn’t being allowed into the vaunted WFTV (channel 9) studios to ooze slime onto the table just like three stooges Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek.
Given that we’re the media and always thirsty for blood, we were drawn to the event partly by Snitker’s press-released tease of possible arrests. Snitkerites would be willfully trespassing on WFTV property, despite all warnings, the release teased.
We should have known better: The crime scene turned out to be a dozen people loitering around a Papa John’s pizza, standing three traffic lanes and two sidewalks away from the nearest police officer. A stencil reading “Snitker2010.com” was spray-painted in radioactive yellow on any piece of concrete that seemed too smugly pro-Rubio. “Why’d they have to put the sign here?” an 8-year old asked, gesturing with a half-eaten slice of pizza at a Snitker stencil beneath his feet. Get the kid out of here! He’s too logical!
Other folks not under the spell of logic were also in attendance. “I’m dressed up in a chicken suit because we’re not being taken seriously,” said a man in a snugly fitting cock hat who was not merely James M. Ray, but Charco the Chicken (Charco, which rhymes with Marco, as in Rubio. Get it?). Despite being far too old to get away with saying “it’s fuckin’ lame, dude” and “the suckitude is tremendous,” Charco brought up an interesting point: Snitker was told he wouldn’t be included in the debate because he hadn’t polled above 10 percent, but allegedly the polls refused to include him because he hadn’t gotten enough media attention. Unfortunately, Charco had no giant eggs on hand to hammer that metaphor home.
Snitker himself was a nice enough guy, but then again, a former door-to-door office supply salesman would have mastered that nice-guy act, right? God, look what Florida politics has done to us!
Get the kid back over here! Listen, buddy: get far, far away from here, and don’t come back until November 3rd.