From the New Civil Rights Movement:
Reverend Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), a conservative Christian anti-LGBTQ hate group that lasted from 1984 to 2018, died this week at age 85. Good riddance. His cause of death hasn’t been revealed. Sheldon served as the California executive director of Anita Bryant’s 1977 Save Our Children (SOC) campaign, the first-known anti-gay political organization. SOC successfully opposed municipal ordinances protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens from discrimination in cities across America.
The SOC did this largely by painting gay people as godless sluts who wanted to cross-dress and rape children. The group’s public face, singer Anita Bryant, compared LGB people as prostitutes, thieves, murderers, and child molesters.
Lou Sheldon was an evil homophobic son of a bitch. His rhetoric mutilated our minds while encouraging others to mutilate our bodies. With him, there was no nonsense about wanting to save our souls or loving the sinner while hating the sin. Lou Sheldon HATED LGBTQ people. And he made it his life's work to disrupt our lives and cause us as much turmoil as he possibly could.
From the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010:
In 1985, Sheldon suggested forcing AIDS victims into “cities of refuge.” In 1992, columnist Jimmy Breslin said that Sheldon told him that “homosexuals are dangerous. They proselytize. They come to the door, and if your son answers and nobody is there to stop it, they grab the son and run off with him. They steal him. They take him away and turn him into a homosexual.”
Sheldon later denied that he made the comments, but his website today includes strikingly similar language: “[S]ince homosexuals can’t reproduce, they will simply go after your children for seduction and conversion to homosexuality.” Elsewhere, it claims that “[t]he effort to push adult/child sex … is part of the overall homosexual movement.” The TVC also asserts that “it is evident that homosexuals molest children at a far greater rate than do their heterosexual counterparts” — a falsehood based on conflating male-male molestation with homosexuality. Gays, it says, molest children at “epidemic rates,” adding: “As homosexuals continue to make inroads into public schools, more children will be molested and indoctrinated into the world of homosexuality. Many of them will die in that world.” With regard to LGBT teen suicides, TVC, under the headline “Homosexual Urban Legends,” claims that “[t]he cold, hard fact is that teens who are struggling with homosexual feelings are more likely to be sexually molested by a homosexual school counselor or teacher than to commit suicide over their feelings of despair.”And there were other things according to the New Civil Rights Movement by way of SPLC:
He also helped lobby for a congressional hearing to support Senator Jesse Helms’ proposal to deny federal funds to public schools “encouraging or supporting homosexuality.” At the hearing, a speaker said gay activists use federal AIDS funds to host orgies.
When Congress introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 2013, the TVC called transgender people “psychologically unhealthy” and accused them of wanting to introduce “gender confusion” into public schools.
In June 2014, the TVC released a flier comparing gay and lesbian people to those who have sexual fetishes for amputees and eating feces. Physical disgust, revulsion, and demonizing tactics like this were often used by the TVC and other anti-LGBTQ activists to appeal to fear instead of logic.
As I was attempting to come to grips with myself as a gay man, Lou Sheldon made my life a living hell. He never touched me and never knew me, but the lies and horror stories he told, combined with the power of his reach at the time, made it so damn difficult for me to accept myself and made it dangerous for me to be out. You can't be happy when you are constantly bombarded with the message that you are an unhealthy pervert doomed to a short and unhappy life. You can't accept yourself when you are repeatedly told that you will burn in hell if you do. And you can't expect others to support you or treat you with dignity when others are constantly telling them that you want to rape them or supposedly "recruit" children into homosexuality. On the contrary, hearing stuff like gives them an ugly incentive to beat the hell out of you. I know that last fact on an unfortunate (but thank God it wasn't worse) personal level.
Sheldon was one of the reasons why I started this blog. I told myself that I would work to break down every lie, every distortion, every horror story that people like him told about LGBTQ people. Don't mistake what I just said as some sort of bizarre "thank you" to Sheldon for putting me on a road in which I have enjoyed some success and acclaim. I don't owe him shit. For every person like me who took his hate and transformed it into something positive, there are so many others who got damaged to the point where they didn't make it out.
So fuck Lou Sheldon. He belongs to God now and has to answer to Him. That part is none of my business. But there is one thing I am glad about when it comes to him. A 2004 Washington Post article featured him bragging about the opposition to marriage equality, which was becoming a huge issue at the time (and an issue that LGBTQ people won):
He guesses that 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans are engaged in this issue. But polls show 56 percent are opposed to gay marriage. So once gay couples start coming home from Massachusetts and demanding recognition of their marriages by their own states, Sheldon figures America will wake up. “It’s a sleeping giant out there,” he says. “We’re talking about tens of millions of people. And when they wake up I feel bad for the homosexuals.”
I am happy that he lived long enough to see his failure to keep us from achieving marriage. I hope he took it as a personal denunciation of every bigoted lie he told about us.
And I hope it stuck in his craw until he took his final breath.