(Photo Credit: Clinton Fein, renowned artist and political activist snapped this photo of Tinky Winky, two Sisters, and yours truly. Clinton has kindly granted permission for non-commercial use of his photos from today's action at his site, as long as he's fully credited.)
The death of Moral Majority founder Rev. Jerry Falwell has grabbed headlines in alternative and mainstream media. But happily, so has the anti-memorial we held for the late bigot and gaybasher this afternoon (May 15) in San Francisco. Here is my report about our news conference, and the media frenzy that followed.
Six activists gathered at 5 pm on this chilly afternoon. Appropriately, to mark the passing of a chief homophobe, we met at the cross roads of Gay America: Castro and 18th streets. We taped flyers on the side of the BofA building, depicting Falwell and simply reading "Falwell Dead". Our major eye-catching prop was a three-foot-high pinata of Tinky-Wink, the purple Teletubby whom Falwell had deemed a propaganda weapon to recruit the world's children to homosexuality. We hung our beloved mascot from the iron bars of the bank so he could swing free and attract passersby.
We spoke for about five minutes. We reminded people about this Bible-beating bigot's horrible legacy. The press people covered our presentation and then stopped passers-by and ask for the "queer on the streets" thoughts about Falwell. No one had a nice thing to say about the man who helped collapse the separation between Church and State and presaged the evangelical taint of today's White House.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence arrived to conduct a purification ritual, to heal all gays who had been subjected to Falwell's hatred over the decades. Reporters who stayed took advantage of the photo op of the Sisters in their make-up and regalia. Those in attendance were given a strip of pink fabric to write down thoughts about their gay fabulousness, and then asked to tie the streams of messages to BofA's iron bars, blowing our love and self-affirmation into the winds to our gay brothers and sisters across the globe.
Two resulting press reports of note: The SF Chronicle has posted a few photos and a brief news item about the event, written by a reporter who was not there, but who spoke to me on the phone earlier in the day. Plus, our regional NBC affiliate has posted a lengthy story and photos, with the provocative headline about gays dancing on Falwell's grave.
Dancing on his grave? How did that happen? Well, after we left the corner of Castro and 18th, other community members arrived to establish their anti-Falwell tributes. Someone laid down a square of AstroTurf to represent Falwell's grave with a small sign on the masking tape inviting people to dance on the dead reverend's grave.
No, this grave-dancing stuff is not mine. But I certainly endorse the sentiments of those who did it. Just think of the tens of thousands of gay people who died of AIDS neglect because of Falwell's hate-mongering that reached up into the White House and affected public policy. Or the many who killed themselves because Falwell had convinced them they were not good Christians. There
are numerous reasons why we should remember the Rev. Jerry
Falwell's poisonous legacy in this fashion.
Yes, there are some mainstream press people who felt our celebration was in questionable taste. To those horrified by our demonstration, let me assure them of one thing: When uber-bigot and primo gay-hater Senator Jesse Helms finally meets his maker, our subsequent celebration will make the Falwell event look like a Sunday tea party at the vicarage.
Jesse... it's time for the Lord to call you home...