I’ve been called lots of names this week by some good-ol’ Christians this week, just because I think that targeting people by race is wrong. Instead of having a decent conversation, or even trying to understand the the term ‘racial profiling,’ I get smacked down. That’s o.k. I know I am right and anyone who bothers to look up simple definitions or who bothers to pick up a history book will know this.
This week too has been interesting because just before I was being called all these names, Stacy Harp received the same treatment. I wrote a bit that I titled In Defense of Stacy Harp. I meant it. Stacy saw this and wrote in response. The names that both of us have been called this week are pretty bad. I don’t know if the people who called Stacy names are gay or not, but the people who called me names run from gay (Justin), ex-gay (Robert) to straight (Mark).
No one should be called names. I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I’ve extended an olive branch to Stacy a few weeks ago. There is nothing wrong with that. I’ve tried to reach out to her and I would meet her in a second if we ever had that opportunity. I’ve extended that invitation to another person who isn’t very friendly to gays and lesbians and although we were never able to meet despite trying, I would do it again. I think that if people met face to face, there might be a chance at some real dialogue and I think meeting puts a human face on what is normally just some type on a screen. This doesn’t always work but I am always willing to try. I totally agree with Obama who said that he would meet with the Iranian leader for a face to face discussion. Some don’t like that, but what is the alternative? Maybe a full-scale invasion and millions dead? What if a meeting between enemies could prevent that?
Extending an olive branch or reaching out to people like Stacy is not a sign of weakness. Weakness would be giving in or accepting what they have to say without trying to deal with it. Weakness would be name-calling. I’ve spent nearly fifteen years writing in defense of gays and lesbians and protesting for equal rights.
Here is one of my first published letters that I wrote to the U. of Michigan newspaper (The University Record, October 30, 1995):
Bender doesn’t understand civil rights activism
Why is it that every fall I am bombarded with messages of hate from Bruce Bender? His ranting and raving about me and other gay, lesbian and bisexual people is almost too much to take!
What really bothers me the most is that he seems to think that he knows who gay people are. I have never met this man, nor do I really want to. He doesn’t have a clue who I am, except that I am gay and am a menace to society. All I can say is thank God that there is gay, lesbian and bisexual activism on this campus to counter the hate found in this man and others. He obviously doesn’t understand what civil rights activism is all about.
Mr. Bender: Can you be fired from your job, kicked out of your apartment or not be served in a restaurant because you are a Christian? No. But outside the city of Ann Arbor, this can happen to me because there is no legislation to protect me. If you would stop raving, you would see that this is not a special right that I am asking for. It is the right to be a human being.
Kevin W. Kaatz, research associate, Department of Neurology, and biblical studies graduate student
I’ve also published letters in Michigan, Sydney Australia and many here in California. To reach out to people like Stacy has nothing to do with weakness, nor does it affect my credibility (do I even have credibility? I’m not sure, since it has never come up before!). If someone isn’t happy with my efforts with those who are against gays and lesbians, there isn’t too much I can do about it. I am always happy to listen to other proposals. But I am going to continue to reach out to people and even defend them if I have to, even if my credibility goes down…