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America or Amerika?
What If the Republicans Win?

By Jack Nichols

Could a Bush-Cheney victory create a new Amerika? In 1986 the Supreme Court of the United States allowed that same- sex lovemaking is a criminal act, and that by extension you, dear reader, are a criminal, that GayToday is enjoyed by sex criminals, and that all of us may theoretically be sentenced by certain states to prisons for our “criminal” activities, that is, for being ourselves, for having the capacity to love and care for members of our own gender.

Specifically, the high court ruled that we have no right to privacy, not even in our bedrooms. This ruling helped make all of us sitting ducks for queer killers, for anti-homosexual police, for bar raiders, for sexual entrapment.

In spite of the July 4, 1986 extravaganza celebrating a refurbishment of the Statue of Liberty, an event that was attended by Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, America, it seemed then, no longer believed in its founding principles.

America, it appeared, had become the land of liberty and justice for some, or Amerika, as some journalists had called it in the 60s.

Sociologist David Riesman suggested nearly fifty years ago that as fear of African-Americans waned, along with the sexual disquietude they caused Caucasians, a new minority—the homosexuals—could become a scapegoat.

Mass movements, political or religious, need their devils. Excitable people require negative images against which they can rage in dissatisfaction; they need groups they can blame for their own frustrations. Hitler knew this. The fundamentalist Christians and their lackeys in the U.S. Congress know it now.

hitler2.jpg - 10.27 K Hitler gave Germans what they wanted: dead Jews, dead dissidents, dead queers. The Republicans—under Reagan and Bush, Sr.—have long been laying the groundwork for a similar fate for gay men and lesbians.

If George W. Bush becomes president, carrying forward the legacy of the Reagan-Bush years, vile GOP congressmen will continue to cry for our blood. For my blood. For your blood.

Who will defend us? Bush may appoint, if he is elected, as many as three more Supreme Court justices. How will we defend ourselves? Will we have any hope?

If Republican leaders, in collusion with military machos and judgmental fundamentalists were to turn their attention to segregating and eliminating sexual non-conformists, what would happen? Who would applaud? Who would resist? Those lacking sufficient power, I fear.

Am I over-reacting? Am I getting hysterical? Is this paranoia? Are you awake?

If George W. Bush becomes president, the struggle for gay civil rights will have been dealt a staggering blow. In some ways, our plight could become worse than it was sixty years ago. Gay men and lesbians are more visible now than ever, yes. And many of us proudly so. But we are also more vulnerable and more popular as targets in certain locales than ever before. If

George W. Bush takes office, homophobic target practice will get the official seal of approval from the highest court in the land.

Sex has always been used a decoy to draw public attention away from more important issues. Note how the Republican majority has used it as their primary weapon against Bill Clinton. While the GOP screamed for his impeachment, the avaricious Republican regime was shielded from the scrutiny of a disgruntled citizenry.

Under Bush, Republican goons and corporate snoops will free free to invade our bedrooms as they did in 1986, to expose our “unnatural” vices, to root out the “evil” of what we do—which is to love each other joyfully and playfully, to love each other as equals. Their venomous lies, already spewed by such demagogues as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, will continue to portray us as a great evil, the root cause of every misfortune visited upon the great mass of upright, uptight citizens in 'God's Country'.

But do not fear, they'll say, we will rid the nation of this family-bustin' homo-blight. One technique will be to deprive sodomites of their livelihoods. While Bill Clinton's executive order has banned discrimination against gays in government, Bush will be pressured rescind that high-minded order, giving a green light to both government and to private employers not only to fire those who flout God's supposed sex program, but to those who would discriminate against people with AIDS as well. Pharmaceutical companies will be encouraged to charge far more than the criminal fees they demand now in order to keep AIDS patients alive.

In the background we will hear a cacophony of Southern Baptist voices: “Cut them off, deny them shelter, deny adequate medical treatment, deny support for medical research—let God do his work!”

There's no reason to sit and wonder at how the U.S. government, during the Reagan-Bush years, welcomed a homophobic reaction to AIDS. The Republicans literally seemed to pray that their policies would cause death and suffering. That was the aim of those policies, encouraged by the then-White House assistant, Gary Bauer.

When Fuhrer Reagan was elected, I telephoned my old comrade-in-arms, Dr. Franklin Kameny of Washington, D.C. "Give me a quote on the Election," I said. Kameny chose each word slowly and carefully, as befits a Harvard scientist. Recalling how in the 1960s, Reagan and his cronies had been known as "the lunatic fringe," Kameny said:

"The lunatic fringe has, unfortunately, come to a position of centrality."

George W. Bush is today's "lunatic fringe" leader.

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Al Gore's Record is Speaking for Itself on Gay Issues

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As a man of artistic spirit, I've always loved the America of ideals: The Bill of Rights, the rationalism of Thomas Paine, the iconoclasm of Thomas Jefferson, the mysticism of Franklin. The America of ideals gave me my many heroes and heroines: Robert G. Ingersoll, the silver-tongued infidel; Emma Goldman, the anarchist; Clarence Darrow, the compassionate lawyer; Robert Henri, the painter and teacher; and, last but not least, Walt Whitman, the divine poet whose Leaves of Grass are the closest thing to my idea of a meaningful bible.

The Amerika of the Reagan-Bush years, an Amerika I did not love, was symbolized for me by a hockey match I saw on network TV. The players were bloodthirsty and violent, battling each other mercilessly with their sticks. the crowds roared approval, like the ancient Romans. Over the loudspeaker, Kate Smith's homey voice sang 'God Bless America,' and a huge multi-colored Neon sign flashed off and on: 'We're Number One We're Number One.'

If George W. Bush is elected, it will be cause enough for a gay and lesbian resistance movement. Perhaps our freedom fighters, better prepared now, will be forced to recapture for all Americans—even those too dense or too shallow to know that anything has been lost—the America of ideals, struggling to disempower its enemies. To do this, our loyalties must be greater than those to any single nation. “Glory is not his who loves his country,” said the Persian seer Baha'u'llah, “but rather, glory is his who loves the planet.”

How will we arm ourselves? How will we fight? Reviled, outcast, disenfranchised, branded as criminals (William F. Buckley, the Republican muse, is on record favoring tatoos for PWA's) what can we do?

Perhaps we will be forced to realize one of the dreaded nightmares of the authoritarian GOP—a gay fifth column working from the inside, unrecognized, working to soften the very sinews of the religious/political/ military/industrial complex. A fifth column that turns its back on Amerikan-Republican values; whose members are strong and valiant and moral enough to construct their own. A fifth column, an invisible minority—invisible, that is, when its members decide to be. Able to move in and out of every stratum of society, from the choir lofts of the Thomas Road Baptist Church to the very halls of the White House; able to cause havoc within the GOP.

I remember being one of a group given free tickets by a fifth columnist who worked in the offices of a homophobic TV commentator. The homophobe had refused to consider hosting gay people on his show. We were determined to help him change. Each of us was provided with a whistle. The show went on. I looked across the audience: everywhere there were large enclaves of our homosexual fifth column.

As it turned out, the homophobe found it difficult to work while we whistled. To avoid public embarrassment, he was forced to promise us our own opportunity to speak. We'd used a Trojan Horse strategy and it had worked.

If George W. Bush is elected, please remember that it can work again. It can work in the military and in the highest echelons of the U.S. government.

I speak as a child of the nation's capital, born in its center, reared in its shadow. My father, for 25 years a special agent of the FBI, was flabbergasted when I helped organize the first gay lib demonstration at the White House. (April, 1965). During my years in Washington, my family hosted a Senate Chaplain and I myself was a guest of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, whose personally-autographed memoirs I proudly own. Douglas, an individualist, was a far cry from Justices Scalia and Thomas, the fascistic Supreme Court members George W. Bush says he admires most.

Yes, if George W. Bush ascends to the presidency, the America of ideals will be tossed into the murderous grip of ghouls. We who identify as gay—if this happens—must do everything possible to unsettle and unseat these ghouls. We've always been clever and canny. We can work from the inside against the entrenched and pernicious values promoted by these Republicans.

My dear, you're pale! Don't get all excited. I didn't ask you to carry any bombs. Nor would I. Architectural demolition is the strategy of morons. Just be careful with those GOP files you're carrying, get me? And take time to consider unhappy effects before you drop that package of laxatives into those Republican coffee pots.

Whatever your plan, you will need accurate information and more truthful reportage in order to map it out, flesh it out, and carry it out. Our mainstream Republican-Amerikan Media—the election has made clear—cannot be relied upon for this. Some networks, some newspapers may be better than others, but the comparisons are often moot.

Freedom of expression in Amerika? Yes, there are small papers that seek out and print the truth, but too few know about them. The Internet is a boon, no doubt, as long as Republican censors keep their sweaty paws off of it. But if it's the vote that counts, all the GOP officials will need is an ignorant, illiterate majority chained to their tubes, exchanging information gleaned from William Schneider, Tucker Carlson and Robert Novak on CNN or from those rabid loonies who lull us to sleep with their empty “You Decide” slogans on Fox News.

We accuse the current Iranian government of censoring and our accusation is justified. But we have censorship in Amerika too, in a different form. Why is it that ABC, CBS and NBC report such startlingly similar and slanted stories? Often they open with the same leads. There appears to be some mutually-agreed- upon middle. Is “middle” the truth? It doesn't matter. It's middle. It supports the oil interests and other polluters. It ignores, as does Dubya, global warming.

In such an environment where ghouls govern because nobody knows any better and avenues to knowledge are blocked by network czars—like Rupert Murdoch— does freedom ring? Thank the gods for a free Internet.

During the old Reagan-Bush years, do you recall how the Justice Department threatened private companies for carrying such “obscene” publications as Playboy? Who will the Republicans threaten next? They are already gearing up for a broadside against the Internet.

Here in Amerika, violence is not thought of as obscene. Last week the CEO of the World Wrestling Federation was filmed with his family, flanked by top Wall Street brass and overlooking the Stock Exchange. A taste for WWF-style violence is considered a titillating sign of virility. In right-wing, sex-repressive Amerika, the word 'obscene' has always meant making love without a cover.

Yes, Alice, this is indeed a wonderland.

Better a thousand women stabbed by ice-picks than one who is naked. Better to show grisly slaughters of living beings than one life-affirming erection. Better that Wall Street celebrates the gouging and bitterness of the WWF than complain about how Republican politicians religiously fetishize the reputed 'murders' of people unborn.

What discourages the media from providing hard truths?


“The truth,” said comedian Allan Sherman, is “spontaneous, accidental, and unpredictable. Lies, however, can be planned in detail long in advance.”

The networks know that truth is often wildly improbable and hard to explain. Lies and half-truths are much more manageable and seem to sell better if presented well.

It is often easier to make lies seem true than the truth itself. Whereas lies can be made simple, the truth is often complicated, elusive, difficult to pin down, and, often, not very palatable. If the networks told hard truths, they'd have to spend too much money for research, devote too much time to detail.

The financial supporters of the cash-needy networks would lose if the networks were to place 'people over profits,' agreeing the environment merits an intense protection it has clearly needed since before the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.

Too much truth about our environment would offend all such oily rich advertisers. Real-reporting work, a tedious task their network flunkies abhor, would certainly be antithesis of Showbiz. Showbiz, the soul of television—demands that even the deliberately-doctored news be a jaded sort of entertainment.

The 2000 elections have proved how lies in media can be wonderfully creative. The networks have been paid for these lies. The truth is free, the media moguls figure, so who needs it? It will do nothing to grease the wheels of the economy, and isn't that all we need? A well-oiled economy? Isn't that what we're all about—what we're all after—money?

Perhaps it is. But if so, our troubles run much deeper than George W.'s or a Supreme Court's decisions.

I once lived in Atlanta, directly across the street from Margaret Mitchell's one-time home which by that time was, like Tara, “Gone with the Wind”. A weathered historical marker sat in the yard, but a much bigger marker, that belonging to a loan company, outshone it. The bigger sign, without embarrassment, said: FINANCE AMERICA.

Buy! Borrow! Invest! Steal! Consume! Acquire! Acquire! Acquire! These are the rallying cries that summon us to gather around Old Glory, placing our hands on our hearts.

Richard Simmons—in the middle of his exercise show—once leaned into the camera and spoke seriously and directly to his audience: “Turn off your stereo set,” he said, “and turn off your vacuum cleaner. You don't need to have your TV, your stereo and your vacuum all running at the same time.”

But many of us think we do. We have our acquired products, yes. But our hearts remain empty and silent. We sit alone in our unfulfilling selfishness. Our gadgets keep us company.

Yes, greed in Amerika long ago took the place of a supposed compassion—that compassion about which George W. Bush has told his biggest lie. Nobody these days, certainly not Bush, questions our greed. The richer classes have mistaken their money as the currency of the Millennium, and the Republicans have had the poor taste to spread this view. Fresh air and clean water count for little in their worldview.

They are producing not a nation of astute freedom lovers who know that vigilance is liberty's price, but crowds of fearful dwellers in Soap Opera Land, infected by Soap Opera Values. If TV is boring, all movies have been seen and its too early for a pill, there is always shopping, that most satisfying of Amerikan pursuits in that most hallowed of Amerikan temples, the Mall.

In our schools we're usually encouraged to follow prevailing fashions; our minds are filled with formulae and dogma; our natural curiosity is discouraged; our innate critical faculties are not developed. We are encouraged to believe, to accept authorities. We learn to avoid the asking of relevant questions. We keep our desks tidy. We belong to one of several denominations of the Ball religion. Football, a fascist 'game', has the most converts.

Philosophy and poetry, both radical pursuits, are called impractical, superfluous—which is why, so the authorities say, our schools ignore them.

Perhaps there are other reasons they say this. Poets and philosophers and artists and balladeers are often seditious. They sometimes fulfill their functions by altering the status-quo. While thousands upon thousands roam homeless and starving, it is our entertainment artists, not elected Republicans, who rouse our conscience, who urge us to turn away from selfishness, to give until it hurts, until it helps.

Neo-conservative Republicans try to make us think that the Sixties created today's problems. They fear a revival of the idealism that once struck terror into their cynically acquisitive hearts. They fear the real kindling of compassion which once threatened to burn down the pike-studded walls of their fiefdoms. They find it convenient too to blame homosexuals.

The fear of faggots remains a pervasive battering ram in Amerika. Republican leaders work hard to re-kindle old-fashioned hatreds and fears, using them as smoke screens with which to occupy voters while they silently promote harmful corporate profiteering.

It is easier, they know, to strike out at “them” (that's us, kids) than to face their own queer inner demons. Smashing faggots is at the heart of all respectable Republican agendas in this land of unquestioning machismo. Faggots break macho rules and are accused of breaking free from patriarchal-religious roles. We are not only expendable in the eyes of the GOP, we are dangerous. We must be obliterated. Once this is accomplished, a new scapegoat will be needed, of course. But scapegoats are always easy to come by. And fear and blind hatred are always easy to re-direct, particularly after an electoral victory.

Following such a victory, the GOP will resume the hurling of its hurtful thunderbolts. We will be stung. Some of us will be stunned. Others will feel frightened. We will hear rumblings of worse to come. A GOP victory will mean that a full-fledged reactionary storm is brewing. Unleashed against us in its full fury, it will strike many of us down. We must take shelter. We must prepare to struggle against these oppressors. We must fight.


For one thing we must make repeated public appeals to nations such as Canada and to European Union members whose laws have been suitably reformed. They must be made aware of the Republican regime's evil strategies. They must be told how the religious/political/military/industrial complex harasses us and stirs up a public opinion that results in hate crimes against us. They intend not only to place us back in our closets, but to lock and throw away the keys.

If the Republicans win November 7, it will be imperative that we gay citizens admit our condition without resorting to denial. We will be facing apartheid of a particularly sly and vicious form.

Let the murderous intentions of our Republican foes be publicized. No good will come of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping such a regime will simply go away. It loves the taste of faggot blood and it wants more. If we do less than recognize the GOP for what it is, we commit the equivalent of suicide.

Those who still hold to the cherished belief that Republican rule is fundamentally humane, that the GOP isn't really heartless, are losing time; sooner or later the truth must dawn. Each of us must take a personal stand against a regime that would obliterate our kind. Our patience with the GOP must be exhausted. We can no longer afford to wait and watch. We already know the worst.

We must understand how the GOP weaves its concerns into a total pattern. When Eisenhower left office he warned in his last speech of the military/industrial complex, calling it a rapidly growing menace. Now, if the fascist GOP takes over, religious and political power will have finally triumphed as part of that complex. Falwell and Robertson, both “Christian” ministers, support unlimited growth for the Pentagon. They know they can count on male role conditioning to maintain the warlike climate needed for weapons production and sales.

They can also count on male role conditioning to give them back-up when they attack faggots. The military machine, wedded to corporate profits is—as Eisenhower warned—taking over. By 1989, nearly half of all federal judges were Reagan appointees. A Bush administration will complete a GOP takeover of the judiciary.

When we confront our adversaries, we must not think that our struggle is limited to liberty for homosexuals alone. It has a greater scope. It is the struggle of all who affirm life and peace against the forces of death and destruction. While we work to save ourselves, we must link arms with other oppressed victims of the machine; we must arm ourselves with a range of perspectives far broader than that of our enemies; our vision of hope and resistance must encompass the planet. When we see others under the Republican-Amerikan heel, we must recall the old anarchist slogan, “None of us is free till all of us are free.”

In 1965 I wrote to Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher and mathematician who served as go-between for the U.S. and the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. John Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev had exchanged letters through Russell because he was one of the few people in the world whom they both trusted.

I asked Lord Russell to make a statement on behalf of gay civil rights in the United States. He replied that he'd been persecuted in America in 1940 because of his liberal views on sex (Russell had been fired by the City College of New York from its mathematics chair) but that he was a proud member of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in Great Britain.

“I send you all my good wishes for this work,” he wrote to me, but, he added, he would be putting all his energies into the nuclear peril. Even in blizzards he marched—in his frail nineties— in London's Ban the Bomb protests.

If we treat such matters as the nuclear peril, or ecology, or women's rights, or racism as isolated matters, thinking they bear no connection to gay oppression, we will misunderstand the strategy of our eager killers. Their stances are interconnected. We must connect with our allies working to eliminate other dangers and injustices.

We need a more developed political vista, one that synthesizes the avant garde social movements of our day. Such vistas do exist. They are breathtaking, life-affirming panoramas.

Through our famous grapevines, we must alert ourselves to facts we've hitherto been unwilling to face, particularly (if the Republicans win in the Congress and at the White House) a most basic and most chilling fact, affirmed in 1986 by the U.S. Supreme Court, namely that we will not be welcomed as full citizens in a GOP-dominated America. Our place will be no more.

Each of us must approach this fact differently, as befits our differing circumstances and our different abilities. Some will spell revolution: RIDICULE. We will mock our oppressors, put them on stages, in books, on the Internet, in films. We will hold them up to the scornful laughter of thinking, feeling people.

Some of us will run for office. Some will support particular candidates. Some of us will just talk, to anyone willing to listen. We'll subvert our enemies in unique ways. We'll blow whistles. We'll march. We'll sit down in the streets.

Gay insiders in the Pentagon will alert us when the fascist regime threatens to kill world citizens who lose them their corporate profits. We'll find out who our best friends are and support them most. We'll have no trouble identifying our enemies and we'll work to bring them prayerfully to their knees.

Does this sound like a declaration of war? Of course it does. Because we are engaged in the non-violent moral equivalent of war. If the Republicans take over the entire government, our vigilance will have dissipated un-nurtured during the last eight idyllic Clinton-Gore years. Hosts of flamboyant gongsters will be needed to sound a general alarm.

We can't vanquish our foes if we're sharing their spiritless greed, however, or if we accept their banal view of money as the true measure of human value. We don't have to accept this wrong-headed concept.

One of our own great artists, Tennessee Williams, aptly put it this way in his play, Sweet Bird of Youth:

“Princess, the great difference between people in this world is not between rich and poor… the biggest of all differences in this world is between those that had or have pleasure in love and those that haven't and hadn't any pleasure in love, but just watched it with envy, sick envy…”

Gay people are still executed by religious fundamentalists in Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Do we expect Amerikan-Christian fundamentalists to behave differently? I think not.

If George W. Bush becomes president, dear one, you must don your righteous-battle gear. Such a GOP victory will signal that the dreaded time has come. We have Plato's assurance that an army of lovers can conquer the world. We don't want to conquer the world, of course, but only to liberate its many suffering denizens.

But this we must do. Or die.

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