Readers will have to forgive me for sounding angry, but the recent news involving GLAAD has enraged me. Mark Steyn‘s most recent piece in National Review sums up some of the worst aspects of the epic saga known as GLAAD v. Duck Dynasty.
Steyn resonates with me on one key point: yes, GLAAD is ridiculous and foolish. We knew this. But some conservatives who should know better are truly pathetic. A National Review editor scolds Steyn for being “puerile,” while people on Fox News say that Phil Robertson should have been suspended. Pusillanimous obeisance to false ideology isn’t exclusive to left or right.
A bunch of people on the left (see here and here) called GLAAD out, and I’m glad they did. Yet a bunch of people on the right are still terrified of GLAAD, or else actually believe that it’s defamation to say negative things or think negative thoughts about homosexuality.
In case you don’t know the full extent of GLAAD’s fascism, let me tell you what GLAAD did to me.
I won’t hyperlink this, but if you go to GLAAD’s website and seek out their “commentator accountability project,” you will find my name. This is GLAAD’s blacklist. Within hours of GLAAD’s publication of my addition to the list, which amounts to an excommunication from polite society, an e-mail was sent to the president of my university, along with dozens of other high officials in California, with the announcement: ROBERT OSCAR LOPEZ PLACED ON GLAAD WATCH LIST.
The e-mail stated clearly that as a result of my being placed on this list, I would never get a direct interview in the United States. (Whoever “they” are, they made good on the threat, because when I was brought onto Al Jazeera, they made sure that I was the only one critical of gay adoption, versus two hosts and two other panelists who were for it, and the host cut my microphone.)
According to the press release sent to my university, any media outlet introducing me would be bound to introduce me as an “anti-gay activist” certified by GLAAD as a bigot. When I read the claims of this e-mail, I wondered if this would be true — would media in the United States really introduce me by saying I was certified as “anti-gay” by GLAAD?
Well, the answer to that question remains mostly unanswered. Aside from that one fling on Al Jazeera, since GLAAD placed me on their blacklist, no secular media outlet has invited me on its show in the United States. In-depth interviews with me have been broadcast in Chile, Russia, France, Ireland, and a number of other nations. In the United States, Christian broadcasters like the American Family Association and Frank Sontag’s “Faith and Reason” show in Los Angeles have interviewed me. And I’d been interviewed, prior to the GLAAD blacklisting, by Minnesota affiliates of NBC, CBS, Fox, and NPR, as well as a number of newspapers. Since GLAAD’s blacklisting, none.
Prior to GLAAD’s blacklisting, I had received calls from people at universities discussing their interest in having me come to campus and give speeches. Three were working with me to set up dates. Since GLAAD’s blacklisting, none. Those who had discussed this with me said point-blank that their superiors did not want to create controversy.
That is the power of GLAAD. There are other people on the watch list — Maggie Gallagher, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George, all of whom I respect and all of whom make regular appearances on television. When GLAAD excommunicates them, there might be some hurt feelings, but it isn’t quite the fatwa that it was for me. These other traditionalist spokespeople have enjoyed some advantages: they are not part of the gay community themselves, and they belong to well-established conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation. So I surmise that for them, being blacklisted by GLAAD isn’t really the end of the world.
Being blacklisted by GLAAD was the end of my world. (It just so happens I entered a new, happier one, but that doesn’t take away from the terror caused by their omerta.) Even though I wrote The Colorful Conservative, I am too colorful for right-wing think-tanks, too vulgar for Beltway Republicans, too much a fan of Sarah Palin for the Big Boys down in D.C. I’m too queer for the legit crowd, and GLAAD basically put the word out to the queers not to talk to me anymore. Old friends and even some family members took GLAAD’s marching orders and have summarily cut me out of their lives. And when I mean cut me out, I mean we will never be in the same room again. One person very close to me, who works in the entertainment industry, was accosted at a dinner and told in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t join in denouncing me, he’d have difficulty finding work. I was less important than his shot at getting better contracts — so gosh, I miss him.
I have only my tenure, my experiences, and my blog. I’m not rich. I’m not white. I’m not straight. I was raised by a lesbian and had to climb up to the humble perch where I am now, out of the lowest and smelliest swamps of gay America. I was cursed with a lisp when I was young and never won respect for my writing as an adult. Everything has always been a battle, just to survive — as it is for most gays outside the Beltway, by the way. Somehow, amid the ravages of AIDS, homophobia, racism, class snobbery, bullying, and every possible disadvantage you can name (save perhaps sexism), I managed to make myself a writer, learn eight languages, write books, form a family, find a relationship with God, and last, get tenure. It’s a rare professor who can say he survived a tenure review with as many adversaries as mine involved — which allows me the small pride of saying that as modest a place as CSU Northridge is, I really earned my keep. The slightest blemish on my file would have sent me to the almshouse.
None of these difficulties was quite like what happened with GLAAD. Though I am part of the LGBT community, I was deemed a “non-person,” someone invisible. It’s easy to see why it was necessary, in a Machiavellian sense, for GLAAD to do this in 2013. They have been using the image of “gay families” and “children of gay couples” to maximum advantage — in fact, in the latest iteration of GLAAD’s duel with Phil Robertson, GLAAD wants him to sit down and talk to “gay families.” I am certain this will involve dragging some hapless child who doesn’t want to be there into a confab, where overbearing gay parents use the kid as a human shield.
America doesn’t know that this is part of same-sex parenting, because Americans have been blocked from hearing from me, Dawn Stefanowicz, Jean-Dominique Bunel, “Janna,” Manuel Half, Rivka Edelman, and the blogger known as “the Bigot” — just some of the many people I’ve come to know over the last year and a half, who have the human stories to dispel the myth that all is well with “gay families.” This scares the crap out of people at GLAAD. It scares the crap out of them that I’m a professor and fluent enough in the way research works to know that the “consensus” on same-sex parenting is a fraud. It scares the crap out of them that I have a scholarly record in African-American Studies and queer readings of Thoreau and Whitman, so they can’t write me off as a wacko, unwashed homophobe.
It scares the crap out of them that I know they’re lying, and if people had a chance to hear me, they’d know, too.
So it’s easier to engage in a blackout: make a few phone calls, send out some press releases, marshal the usual success stories, trot out the starry-eyed youths with the “I Love My Two Dads” signs, and cue up some home videos of lesbian moms with toddlers. Give them some of the razzle dazzle.
GLAAD is hoping that the current surge of anger over Phil Robertson will begin and end with Duck Dynasty, and then the rest of us who have been erased and whose lives have been destroyed by this totalitarian organization can be out of the way again. Broom, meet rug — sweep the human waste underneath, march on to the next court case, and proclaim victory.
There’s only one way that GLAAD will come out of this kerfuffle unscathed — if you, the conservatives of America, let them. Please don’t. This is much bigger than one reality show.
Robert Oscar Lopez edits English Manif.