Volume 81, Number 4 | June 23 - 29, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Warren Allen Smith, left, and Larry Kramer at intermission during Kramer’s play “The Normal Heart.”
The only way to banish homophobia is with humanism
By Warren Allen Smith
Are gays better or worse off now?
Ask basketballer Kobe Bryant, who in April was fined $100,000 for calling referee Bennie Adams a “faggot.”
Ask former New York Giants hero David Tyree, who in a recent interview with the National Organization for Marriage, warned that there would be “anarchy” in the United States if homosexuals are allowed to marry.
Ask comedian Tracy Morgan, who last week said he’s sorry for telling a Nashville audience that if his son were gay he would “pull out a knife and stab” him.
Meanwhile on June 17, forward-looking South Africa introduced a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council — one supporting equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation — and it passed 23 in favor, 19 opposed and 3 abstaining.
That resolution has been called “a historic step,” but so was the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.N. General Assembly adopted unanimously. Where today are those human rights followed by the majority in any of the 192 member states?
As one who was at the June 1969 Stonewall uprising, I am as pessimistic now as I was then. Books that have been written about the uprising are not satisfactory. None include, for example, interviews such as mine with Sylvia Rivera (who denied that one founder of a Stonewall veterans group was there at all) and Stephen van Cline (who headed another veterans group and who in 2006 admitted to me, “Yes, I am a big fake. I was trying to write a novel. I am not gay. Sylvia Rivera saw through me.”). Scholars are not analyzing the entire picture, particularly underestimating the battle lines prior to 1969. (For those interviews and more, see http://wasm.us/stonewall.htm .)
So why does homophobia continue? Because, quite simply, supernatural-based religious organizations are in control, not scientific-based ones. Americans foolishly give tax-exempt benefits to religious cults that preach absolute nonsense, such as “hate the sin but love the sinner.” All should be taxed, and their real estate when foreclosed upon turned into community educational and scientific centers. Fill the vacuum by replacing those who preach with sages who do.
During the French Enlightenment, Denis Diderot called his country’s major religion “the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.” Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s “3001: The Final Odyssey” depicted a time when scientific and humanistic thinking at last had arrived — unfortunately, after Earth was no longer habitable.
As for John Lennon’s “Imagine” coming to pass, I remain pessimistic. Holding hands with a male lover in most parts of all 50 states could lead to violence. It will take a movement that is far angrier than Larry Kramer’s has been for me to see the plight of gays improve to any great extent.
Warren Allen Smith, 90, has just published a three-volume autobiography, “In the Heart of Showbiz” (New York, ChelCBooks, 2011) http://chelcbooks.com. An avowed atheist, he is also the author of “Who’s Who in Hell: A Handbook and International Directory for Humanists, Freethinkers, Naturalists, Rationalists, and Non-Theists.”