Friday, October 02, 2015

Apology for 'gays are a health hazard' comment brings up much needed chance for conversation

A university president's apology for anti-gay comments made over 30 years ago brings up a painful, but much needed "blast from the past" for the lgbt community:

University of Akron President Scott L. Scarborough apologized Wednesday for anti-gay comments he made as a student government president in 1985.

As head of the Students' Association at the University of Texas at Austin, Scarborough protested against a resolution that urged the school's regents to enact a policy barring discrimination against lesbian and gay individuals. In his objection, he suggested gay men contracted AIDS from contact with "fecal matter" and warned that hiring anyone who was gay was a "potential health hazard," according to newly unearthed newspaper articles from the time.

"Like many people, my views have evolved over the last 30 years," Scarborough told The Huffington Post in a statement Wednesday. "We all have learned much since those days and, if I knew then what I know now, I would not have taken the steps that I did or said what I did as a student in the 1980s. I sincerely regret any offense or concern those past actions or statements have caused."

The 30-year-old newspaper clippings from the Daily Texan were published Wednesday by anonymous university activists calling themselves Graduates Over Greed. Additional microfilm clips, located by HuffPost, are reproduced below. Two witnesses from the time corroborated the newspaper accounts.

As comical as it may seem now, Scarborough's mindset  about lgbts was prevalent and in the mainstream. They were repeated continuously by many, including Sean Hannity, about our community, particularly during the AIDS crisis. The pictures below from a 1980s comic book endorsed by anti-gay group Concerned Women for America, and a U.S. Congressman William Dannemeyer emphasizes this point. It was all a part of the "homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle" talking point which was very popular back then. And very inaccurate:

The irony is that many of the group pushing this talking point have abandoned it and have focused on the "protecting religious liberty" racket. Nevertheless, it continues to be repeated by those of an extremely homophobic nature.

But Scarborough's apology brings much needed attention on this ugly part of the war against lgbt equality. The historical demonization of the lgbt community is nothing to laugh at by anyone,  no matter how far we have come.

 Just as the historical demonization of the African-American and Jewish community have been examined with all seriousness, the same must be done to the past claims and images which served to stigmatize lgbts

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