Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
April 11, 2000

Making a living off of homophobia.
Author/s: Bruce Vilanch

The Bill Horn and Lou Sheldon I debated on Politically Incorrect hate homosexuals for a living. Backstage they may not hate anybody.

Some years ago a producer from Jenny, or it might have been Montel, or it could conceivably have been Maury--it's all one big yapping maw--called my friend the rabbi and asked him to be on a show about the Holocaust. He asked who else was going to be on, and the producer dropped a few names, all of whom were self-proclaimed Holocaust revisionists. These are the lunatics who pretend the Holocaust never happened and that everybody who says they actually were there actually are on drugs or someone's payroll and all the film we've seen actually was staged by some ghoulish Teutonic Cecil B. DeMille. The rabbi said no.

"Don't you think the public deserves to hear the other side?" the exasperated producer asked. The rabbi took a breath and very calmly said, "There is no other side."

When the nice folks at ABC's Politically Incorrect asked me to appear on their show on a night when a gay marriage would be performed in the presence of the Rev. Lou Sheldon (don't worry, he didn't officiate) and his antigay fellow traveler Bill Horn, I found my mouth forming the same response: There is no other side. Why dignify these hatemongers with a civilized response, even from an overgrown Muppet who writes jokes for a living?

And then I thought of Matthew Shepard and a lot of other people who are no longer with us because hate speech unchecked is the parent of hate crime unbridled. And I said yes.

An appearance on Politically Incorrect is always a cheerfully surreal experience, as is watching it. The opinions of noted bimbos and himbos commingle with the carefully calibrated maneuverings of slick political operatives armed with floppies full of stats. The result sometimes is Christians surrendering to lions, but frequently it's a pack of hyenas, each making sure it gets to chew on its tasty morsel of the debate.

The host, Bill Maher, has a great time, secure in the knowledge that every night he is presiding over the dinner party from hell and that it's about as entertaining as television can be. So it was with our show.

After the wedding ceremony the conversation began, and we all had a great deal of fun. Certainly I had a great deal of fun making fun of these two guys who popped up and down like marionettes, thumping the old Bible stuff and paying no attention to the fact that we are citizens too.

It's key to these guys that they separate us from our behavior. In that way they can say they love us but hate what we do. Of course, "love the sinner hate the sin" automatically makes us sinners, nonpeople, subhuman, individuals unworthy of the rights of real people. It's a very old trick, but these are very old dogs.

At one point Horn, who asked to be introduced as a man whose career is keeping a daily watch on the homosexual agenda (they won't use gay), asked me, "Can't a person have these feelings without hating homosexuals?" And I said, "I think you do hate homosexuals."

He said he didn't hate me and asked me if I am homosexual. I said, "I'm so homosexual, I'm not even attracted to you." I think he actually flinched on that one.

And then I realized something. The Bill Horn and Lou Sheldon on that show hate homosexuals for a living. The Bill Horn and Lou Sheldon who had coffee and perfectly pleasant conversation with me backstage, even patting me on the , back, may not hate anybody. They are the right wing's pit bulls, paid to come on shows like Politically Incorrect and make a lot of noise.

They have found a good hot-button issue that will keep them employed for years to come. Each new wrinkle we throw into the debate--marriage, the military, whatever--just guarantees them a new option on their employment contracts. They've got it down to a science, right down to being friendly with the opposition offstage.

They are the other side, but there is no other side. There are just dedicated wage earners. I don't recommend that we let up on them. But I doubt I will ever see a Holocaust revisionist sharing guacamole dip in the green room with my rabbi.