Thursday, May 23, 2013
Religious Fag Bashing in New York
The island of Manhattan in New York City has become so gentrified in recent years that poor people only seem to pass through the place on trains and subways, while working lower level jobs and then returning to where they are from.
On Sunday, we went to the Frick Museum on the upper East Side during its two hours of "pay what you want" admission between 11AM and 1PM, but I wasn't the only one with the same idea, and the line crawled around the block. It was drizzling, so we decided to walk through Central Park toward a subway station instead, and promptly ran into the annual AIDS Walk. The drizzle turned into serious rain and we dived into a subway to breakfast at the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village.
Two nights earlier there had been an unusually egregious murder in the West Village of a gay man by a stranger who was seemingly out to murder a fag, if published reports can be believed. When I first heard about the story, my fear was that this was another case of a white middle-class gay being bashed/killed on the street by a "person of color" with sexuality issues. Instead, the victim turned out to be black, raised in Harlem, living in Brooklyn, and working in Manhattan. The killer was recently released from prison, Latino, crashing with friends and/or family in the East Village, and filled with god knows what kind of rage. In other words, the horribly violent moment was probably more complicated than we will ever know.
The photo above, by the way, is of a recently installed plaque at 31 Cornelia Street of Joe Cino, a gay Italian American coffee shop owner of the 1950s-1960s who had the coolest Off-Off-Broadway Theatre in the world for a slice of time before he committed hara kiri in 1968. (Click here for more.)
New York City has a long history of Catholic leaders demonizing homosexuality while engaging in systematic pedophile sexual abuse. This is no longer supposition so much as modern history, and I am still wondering why we aren't putting the entire institution out of business, so to speak. They deserve it. New York Bishop Fulton Sheen, the TV star, was a major homophobe who crusaded against gay marriage until his death, and in my experience that's usually the dead giveaway of a closet case. The rabidly right-wing New York Cardinal Spellman (1939 to his death in 1967) was known as "Franny" by the Broadway chorus boys he had picked up from stage doors by church limousines. His best friend in crusading morality, by the way, was fellow right-wing powerbroker and closet case Roy Cohn, of Angels in America infamy.
On Wednesday, taking the subway from Manhattan Midtown to Brooklyn Williamsburg, a young, large man preaching the Word of God came on to the train and loudly, obnoxiously preached to the entire subway car in the most aggressive, angry way imaginable right into my ear.
Like everyone else, I tried to pretend he did not exist and was not yelling offensive religious crap, but at a certain point I made it very clear to him by my stare and my stance that I was not amused, so he started in on an analogy about God and HIV just to get a reaction from me. And he got one. Not only was it Harvey Milk's birthday on Wednesday, May 22nd, but it was mine too, and thinking about the poor young man who was shot in the face for being a fag in public on the previous Friday evening set me off. I pulled out my camera and started stalking the preacher which made him very nervous.
"Go ahead. Put my picture on the internet. I don't care," he yelled at me across the car. My shouted response, and here I need to apologize to all the fellow passengers in the above photo was, "I will be sure to do exactly that, you fucking asshole. You should be ashamed." And so should every religious institution that is still enabling this kind of behavior.