The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Latter Day all over again

By [email protected]

Please accept this as a letter to the editor

Utah is a state synonymous with extensive and relentless homophobia. Behind the camouflage of religious superstition and rightwing extremism bigotry against gays and lesbians is widespread and sometimes brutal.

Is it any wonder that gay and lesbian students rate Utah on a par with Mississippi or even (shudder) Texas? Recently, smirking administrators at Copper Hills High School tried to find a way to stop two young men from attending their prom by refusing to protect them from homophobes who ‘might’ jump them, They are abetted by a lack of sufficient specific state law to protect students from homophobia and violence. They’re trying to isolate and belittle these fine young men, when they should applaud them and if necessary,and protect them without hesitation. The same narrow minded bias was evident earlier when a anti-smoking campaign aimed at gay and lesbian students at Hillcrest High School was shut down. Later the state health department maliciously cut all funding for the gay themed campaign statewide. This is not what you expect in a state that proudly leads the nation in this effort.

When bigotry is policy, it can metastasize into violence. In truth, these attempts to isolate and intimidate gay and lesbian students are playing with fire. They lend legitimacy to and excite homophobic pig-bigots, of which Utah has its full share. They are used, ruthlessly, to prevent health care campaigns against AIDS and smoking.

This is doubly dangerous because right wing and religious fanatics no longer find it so easy to be openly racist, as they were just a few years ago, and even misogyny is frowned upon in these ‘degenerate’ modern times. So, searching for a new target for their irrational hostilities, they’ve aimed their obsessive anger and paranoia at gays and lesbians.

Note that there is method to their madness. At a time when union-busting, poverty, AIDS, out-sourcing, unemployment, war, and other major problems confront working people, these bigots whine and whimper about the dangers of gay marriage, or school being disrupted by two guys dancing, or alerting young men and women to the dangers of smoking with gay themed materials. Their anti-gay bigotry serves the same purpose that racism and misogyny once did – to divert and divide attention from the challenges and struggles we face. (Anti-semitism played the same role for the Nazi’s in Germany. Both then and now, scapegoating is used against everyone, not just Jews, or ‘Faggots’, or whatever.)

The recent votes on gay marriage and in other recent elections prove that the madness of bigotry is a weapon for the religious and extremist right. One can say that the flip side of Abe Lincoln’s statement is also true – you can fool a lot of the people, BUT NOT FOREVER. All across America, more and more people are rejecting homophobia. They see it for what it is – a smoke screen behind which are hidden priestly child-abuse scandals, money grubbing and corrupt televangelists. and right wing extremists who can’t get elected without a scapegoat to divert attention from unpopular wars.

Sooner rather than later Utah will change too – already the right to have high school gay straight alliances has been won in court, after a bitter and expensive battle. What the last few elections show is a nation in flux on gay and lesbian issues, but with continuous progress.

I’m sure the young men and women at Copper Hills and Hillcrest and other schools in Utah will be put up a gutsy and committed fight, because they don’t have much choice. They can either kowtow to bigotry or join the long line of resolute and courageous young men and women – gay and straight – who smashed the redcoats at Bunker Hill and Yorktown, who crushed the Confederacy underfoot and ended slavery, who made sure Custer got what he deserved, and who fought and died for labor unions, and the rights of women and African-Americans, and to end the war in Vietnam. That, and not fear of bigots, superstition or extremism, is their authentic American heritage.

Get in touch with these students and tell them they are not alone.

Bill Perdue

(Please don’t publish my e-mail address.)

[email protected]

I am not a UU student.

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