Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Peter Vadala controversy was a major victory for lgbt community

As we remember major lgbt stories in 2009 like Maine and Carrie Prejean,  let's not forget the so-called minor stories.

One in particular I would like to point out because it was a victory for the lgbt blogging community.

Remember Peter Vadala?

He was the former employee of Brookstone (a Massachusetts retailer store) who was fired for supposedly expressing his Christian beliefs.

As we learned more about Vadala, it turned out that him "expressing his Christian beliefs" amounted to telling a lesbian employee that she is a "deviant" for simply talking about her upcoming wedding. Gay marriage, by the way, is perfectly legal in Massachusetts.

At first glance, the incident looked like a perfect cause celebre for the religious right. A young Christian attacked by the supposedly intolerant and invisible homosexual lobby - a perfect fundraising tool if there ever was one.

But it flopped.

What made Vadala's story different than say the story of Repent America when a supposed religious group was arrested at Philly Pride in 2004 or the group of city workers who filed a lawsuit against the city of Oakland when they were told to remove an anti-gay flyer from their workplace?

These were two incidents that the religious right exploited years after they took place.

Like Vadala, both of these incidents looked like cases of Christians being treated unfairly and both contained extenuating circumstances which contradicted that claim.

But unlike Vadala, the earlier stories had time to gain traction. They were spread around right-wing circles before the lgbt community had a handle on the situation and thereby the religious right controlled the arguments regarding these incidents.

Not so with Vadala.

Bloggers and the lgbt community in general were on to him from the start, making sure that the entire story behind his firing was told before religious right circles had time to truncate it.

Also, Vadala himself didn't exactly make a good spokesperson. This interview on Fox News is the worst I had ever seen:

Even with his awful interviewing skills someone like Vadala could have still parlayed his controversy into a cushy job with a right-wing group (hello Matt Barber).

But the lgbt bloggers nipped that one before it could take off.

So while we look back and regret the fact that some of our attempts for forward progress failed, there is nothing wrong with noting that we have become more vigilant and steadfast in beating back lies.

And I think that's a good thing to celebrate.

Related posts:

Fired employee, religious right groups want lgbts to follow different rules at the workplace

Should the right to call a fellow employee 'a deviant' be protected under law?

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1 comment:

MrAllenU said...

"...struggling with her homosexuality..."

--um, no, I think he is the one struggling-struggling with the issue of reality and reason. He is basing his ideas and judgment about other people on bronze age ideas and a sky fairy!