Friday, January 11, 2008

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters featured in Carolina lgbt publication

Q-Notes, a newsmonthly dealing with lgbt issues in the Carolinas, ran an article about my book. .

Click here if you are curious as to what I look like.

Don't laugh too long.

S.C. author takes on the anti-gay industry

Alvin McEwen’s new book details the Religious Right’s distortion tactics

by Jack Kirven . Q-Notes staff

Alvin McEwen put years of research into the tactics and strategies employed by the anti-gay industry to exploit misinformed and religion-based stereotypes about LGBT people.

There is a distinction between spirituality and bigotry based on “sacred” prejudices. This point is the focus of author Alvin McEwen’s new book, “Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Exposing the Lies of the Anti-Gay Industry.”

Boiling the work down to a central thesis, McEwen says “there has been a consistent war waged on the gay community by people who hide behind their pseudo-religious beliefs.”McEwen posits that because it is not possible in this country to create laws that purely further religious thought, opponents of LGBT equality seek other means to demonize our community.

“Once these groups dehumanize LGBT people it then becomes easier to create a sense of need for regulations based on assumed religious justifications.”

In other words, by creating a notion that there is a “dangerous lifestyle” present, a need is then created to suppress that “danger.”McEwen does not use the term Religious Right. He prefers “anti-gay industry.” For good reason, too. The people and organizations who campaign the most furiously against LGBT equality make large amounts of money doing it. It is an industry, one that caters to fear and sells discredited research to people of faith who often do not have a chance to put a human face on LGBT family, friends and colleagues. Professional gay-bashers generate enormous amounts of cash to repay their efforts at fostering hate.

McEwen decided to examine the issue of institutionalized homophobia after he read a magazine article that quoted an hysterical mother who expressed concern for her children’s safety. In the middle of his own coming out process, McEwen was “upset that a woman whom I didn’t know would spout that kind of hate about me. She was telling lies about me. I was vulnerable at that time and I thought about it a lot. I realized how dangerous misinformation can be to LGBT people.”

After following stories in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and various medical and scientific journals reporting that researchers are upset by the ways their studies are misused by hate mongers, McEwen realized that the anti-gay industry employs six primary distortion tactics. As detailed in his book, these deception tactics include: misinformation, repetition, conspiracy theories, dire consequences, phony experts and dehumanizing semantics.

“Understanding how the industry deceives people gives us a means to counter their tactics,” he says.

This includes taking studies out of context, purposefully misreading information, applying data to unrelated topics and other forms of abusing reputable studies by respected scientists.

One example that employs all of these strategies concerns a study that focused on approximately 35 lesbians with pre-existing alcoholism. The findings were misused by the anti-gay industry to argue that lesbians are more likely to develop addictions and express violent behaviors. This was, in turn, used to argue that lesbians should not be allowed to care for children.

This tactic requires little explanation. As George W. Bush said in Greece on May 24, 2005, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

Conspiracy theories
This tactic is commonly used as the dreaded “Gay Agenda.” “By telling people that our country is a Christian country, and telling them what good Christians believe, it then becomes possible to say that someone who does not believe as you do is trying to take all that away from you,” says McEwen.

This tactic plays on social and political fears and usually focuses on extrapolations with no basis in reason or fact (i.e., the argument against same-sex marriage that says people will then be able to marry their dogs).

Dire consequences
This is a strategy that seeks to predict a terrible outcome after a chain of cataclysmic events arise from some undesirable change. An example might include the claim that the Roman Empire collapsed because homosexuality became universally practiced and accepted. To further the distortion, homophobes would equate current problems in the U.S. with that completely unrelated historical situation.

Phony experts
This tactic is exactly what it sounds like. Discredited researchers, outdated studies and disgraced leaders are quoted incessantly, despite the fact that they have no authority or credibility. An example is Michael Johnston’s continued appearance on the cover of the American Family Association’s (AFA) “ex-gay” video “It’s Not Gay.” In 2003, after the video’s release, Johnston was revealed to be participating in unsafe sex at drug-fueled, same-sex orgies without disclosing his HIV-positive status. He is still the “ex-gay” face used to sell the AFA video.

Dehumanizing semantics
The anti-gay industry’s use of language plays on assumptions and is tailored to exploit ignorance concerning the LGBT community. “If someone says, ‘…and this is because gay men live a destructive life,’ it is based on the assumed notion that God created heterosexuality, He disapproves of homosexuality, homosexuality is evil and therefore gay men are destructive,” explains McEwen.

In his book, McEwen highlights quotes from religious leaders that utilize dehumanizing semantics. Such as one evangelist who claims that Christians have been “bullied into submission” by the “aggressive homosexual agenda” that’s taking over public schools.

“Ultimately,” says McEwen, “as a person of faith I would tell people to not take the word of an outsider. Pray, talk directly to God yourself to find out what He has to say about your sexuality. We can’t dialogue with the anti-gay industry, but we can talk to other people of faith. The bigots will expose themselves soon enough. People can hear a lie only so many times before it begins to sound untenable to them. We need to educate ourselves and be informed about our enemies.

“For my part, I am documenting our history so that one day a young person can pick up from our first steps and go even further.”

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“Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters” is available for purchase at