Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Love Thy Gay Neighbor

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Love Thy Gay Neighbor

Article excerpt

The Nazis forced them to wear pink triangles. Along with Jews, dwarfs, people with physical disabilities, and Catholics courageous enough to speak out against Hitler's terror, they were jammed into cattle cars for the final trip to Auschwitz or Buchenwald. There, the infamous gas chambers and ovens awaited these homosexuals and their wretched companions.

Many of those doomed to die a cruel death at the hands of their sadistic overlords must have been asking, "Why?" They had done nothing wrong, and yet whole families were victims of Nazi hatred. But the homosexuals were probably not asking, "Why?" They, too, had done nothing wrong, but they knew well what it was to be shunned and derided, to be made objects of contempt, both verbal and physical, not that this weary knowledge did anything to alleviate their torture. Their hair added to the pile intended for mattresses; their clothes and jewelry became part of the grisly garage sales.

But have we, mere spectators to this ghastly history, learned anything from it? Have we ruled anti-Semitism out-of-bounds in our lives? Do we carp and cavil because a tiny fraction of our taxes or of our purchases must be used to make public facilities more easily accessible to those with disabilities? And are we outraged when gay men are attacked and brutally beaten by groups of thugs not really different from the jackbooted storm troopers of Hitler's SS?

But most of us aren't violent people. When our vitriol arises, it is likely to be verbal, sometimes outspoken, more often sniggering with a hand poised strategically in front of a smiling mouth.

The House Majority Leader, Dick Armey of Texas, claims his tongue merely slipped when he called a homosexual colleague, Barney Frank, "Barney Fag." Yet the congressman's legislative record is replete with intolerance of gays and lesbians, and who will doubt that his Freudian televised slip caused widespread merriment in bars, coffee shops, and homes?

Prejudice, scorn, and sometimes hatred of gays and lesbians may be the last "protected" social pathology today. When the "Barney Fag" epithet was uttered, the fervor - if it can be so described - that arose was dissipated in a few days. "No harm done" was the prevailing reaction to it on Capital Hill. …

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