Last weekend, just a few days before the buffer-zone protected Supreme Court ruled that buffer zones around abortion clinics in Massachusetts are unconstitutional, I was at lunch with some good friends in West Hollywood, America's gayest city. Someone mentioned the anti-gay protesters who sometimes show up at pride parades and Mike, who has lived in WeHo for more two decades, told us all an uplifting story: Twenty years ago a small group of gay men drove a much bigger group of anti-gay Christian protesters out of West Hollywood. Forever.
"This was in the early 1990s," Mike said when I got him on the phone today and asked him to tell me the story again. "It was a long time ago and I was young party boy in WeHo then, so some of the details are fuzzy. But all these fresh-faced bible people had started coming to WeHo every weekend. They would stand on the corner in front of the Don’t Panic t-shirt shop on Santa Monica Boulevard," which is right in the center of the gay nightlife district, "and pass out literature condemning us. We were all dying of AIDS and they weren't coming to offer anything that might look like help—they were coming into our neighborhood to hand out literature that condemned us. People were enraged."
The church group couldn't understand why the gay men they were trying to "reach" were so angry.
"The people from the church were enraged that the gay people they were 'trying to help' were enraged," said Mike. "But they were harassing us! They called it 'outreach' and told us they were just trying to save us from Satan. It was harassment."
The anti-gay Christian bigots came back, week after week, for two months. Then one of Mike's friends had a bright idea: The name and the address of the church these people were from? It was on the literature they were handing out. And the church wasn't that far away. It was an easy drive...
"So a group of guys got together and went to this church on a Sunday morning and stood out in front of it handing out pamphlets about how being gay is okay," said Mike. "They also handed out pamphlets about how to come out to your parents. They only did it once—and that church group stopped coming to WeHo to harass people. That was all it took. Showing up outside their church and 'reaching out' to them the same way there were 'reaching out' to us. We never saw them again."
I remembered Mike's story about a gay men doing 'outreach' at the church whose members were doing 'outreach' in the gay neighborhood—imagine the reaction when gay men handed info on coming out to your parents to the children of these shits—when I read this post at Rude Pundit:
Now, we can argue over whether or not the idea of "buffer zones" violates the First Amendment and if they are ever right, whether at clinics or conventions or the miles you have to stand away from the Supreme Court, but one thing we can perhaps agree on: If this is the motherfucking law of the land now, what's good for the motherfuckin' goose is good for the motherfuckin' gander.
So let's get out there, every goddamn Sunday, and head to the churches that send their lunatic Jesus-fellaters out to try to shut down Planned Parenthoods, and stand on their sidewalks, just like the one up there outside St. Mary's in Grafton, and let's make churchgoing a living fuckin' hell for 'em. Let's bodily block the access to the walkways that lead to the church. Let's bring signs that have pictures of women who were killed by illegal abortions. Let's go up to them and try to convince them to convert or go atheist, following them until we are on church property and have to stop. Let's block the street by walking back and forth in the crosswalk. Let's force the churchgoers to need escorts to even get inside.... Then let's see how quickly they're begging for buffer zones.
It's a great idea—and it's the same one a small group of gay men fighting both the plague and the bigots had in the early 1990s. And it worked.