COLUMBIA--On January 8, South Carolina blogger Alvin McEwen published an online booklet designed to take a new direction in refuting anti-gay propaganda.
Three weeks later, he is astounded as to how successful the booklet, How They See Us: Unmasking the Religious Right War on Gay America, has been.
Since being published on the online site Scribd, the booklet has generated over 8,000 reads, over 81,000 embedded views and over 600 downloads. It was also named to Scribd’s Rising List, which is a list of publications on the site generating many reads and views in a short amount of time.
McEwen credits the booklet’s success to fellow bloggers who, like himself, embedded the booklet on their sites and publicized it by word of mouth.
“This booklet wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without the help and promotion of many of my friends and people who believe in the work which I am doing. So I am extremely grateful for their help and encouragement,” McEwen said.
However, mainstream gay media attention has eluded How They See Us.
McEwen sent press releases to various large scale gay magazines and blogs with little success. He said he understands the lack of attention by the mainstream gay media because of so many things happening in the gay community and the fact that he has neither a national name nor reputation.
For the most part, McEwen has received much positive feedback for How They See Us. But as with all projects, there were a few complaints. Two complaints bothered McEwen tremendously.
“Some people got angry because I didn’t launch a wholesale attack on Christianity and religion in general,” he said. “The goal of this booklet was not to bash religion. I would never want to bash anyone’s religious beliefs.”
And the other criticism really alarmed McEwen because it had a lot to do with what he calls laziness and apathy.
“Some felt that my booklet was a waste of time,” McEwen said. “They felt the anti-gay groups and the people mentioned should be ignored and thus they will go away. That’s a serious problem in our community. We deliberately underestimate the reach and power of religious right groups and then get angry when these groups demonstrate that reach and power. Then we think that raising hell and complaining about being ‘second-class citizens’ will get us over. We refuse to be proactive rather than reactive. We rarely study these groups and we rarely prepare to combat their lies before they come out.”
McEwen blames this on a tendency of members of the gay community to run away from debating anti-gay propaganda. He said it bothers him whenever an anti-gay spokesperson is featured on a news program and his fellow lgbts get angry, not because the spokesman is allowed to repeat the propaganda unchallenged, but that he or she is allowed to speak at all.
“I personally have no problem with a spokesperson from the Family Research Council or the National Organization for Marriage being interviewed on a news program,” McEwen said. “The only problem I have is when the interviewer hasn’t done his or her homework on the group or the spokesperson isn’t debating someone from a pro-gay group. Censoring these people will only make them stronger. We have to publicly call these groups out and engage them in debate whether or not they want that debate.”
But McEwen was also encouraged by how some took to his booklet, particularly lgbt youth. He said a few college and high school students sent him messages thanking him for the information and some also said they passed the booklet or the link around in their GSAs.
“This tells me that our lgbt youth are hungry for this information because they are bombarded with negative propaganda almost every day,” McEwen said. “And more than that, it underscores the need for us older lgbts to publicly challenge anti-gay propaganda and those who push it. I think it empowers our youth to see us calling the religious right out on their lies. And unfortunately they don’t see enough of that.”
McEwen said he hopes that How They See Us will reach over 100,000 reads and embedded views by the end of this week.