The Gay Agenda

Claiming Space, Identity, and Justice

by Gerald Walton (Volume editor)
©2014 Monographs IX, 356 Pages
Series: Counterpoints, Volume 437


The «gay agenda» is a rhetorical strategy deployed by the religious right and other social conservatives to magnify fear and hostility of queers. Queers are accused, among other things, of strategizing to recruit children into sexually deviant lifestyles; dismantling family and marriage as cornerstones of civilization; and forcing the entertainment industry and court systems to do their bidding. Queers certainly do have an agenda but it is not the one that the religious right claims it is. It is to assert their presence in the public space; claim and name their identities; and strategize for social justice in law, schools, and workplaces. The Gay Agenda: Claiming Space, Identity, and Justice claims and reclaims the language of «agenda» and turns the rhetoric of the religious right on its ear. The contributors provide insightful and sharp commentary on gay agendas for human rights, marriage and family, cultural influences, schooling and education, and politics and law.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: “Time is running out”: Lessons I Have Learned as a Recovered Fundamentalist"Ex-Gay" Christian, by Gerald Walton
  • The Gay Agenda, Spelled Out
  • Observations of a Former Christian Fundamentalist
  • Embracing Gay Agendas
  • Agendas in This Collection
  • Notes
  • References
  • Section One: Demanding “Special Rights”
  • 1. LGBTQ Student Agendas: Voice, Dialogue, and Visibility, by Susan W. Woolley
  • Context and Methods
  • Voice Through Personal Narratives
  • Addressing Complex Questions Through Dialogue
  • Visibility Strategies for Engaging Multiple Publics
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 2. Becoming an LGBTQ Activist:The Story of a Young Queer Activist, by Ramón Robles-Fernández
  • Introduction
  • Gay and Lesbian Movements and Anti-Gay Counter-Movements
  • Fuscarino: A Gay Activist
  • Fuscarino on the Christian Right
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 3. The Gay Agenda in Ontario Catholic Schools:Gay–Straight Alliances as Activist Education, by Blair Niblett and Casey Oraa
  • The Ontario Context: A Struggle for GSAs in Catholic Schools
  • An Activist Narrative
  • What Is Activist Education?
  • How do GSAs qualify as activist education?
  • Environments.
  • Ideas.
  • Actions.
  • A Three-Way Tension: What the Ontario Controversy Tells Us About the Need for GSAs
  • Queer Activists.
  • Catholic School Boards.
  • Ontario Ministry of Education.
  • Notes
  • References
  • Section Two: Destroying Women, Men, Family, and Marriage
  • 4. Fucking the Binary for Social Change:Our Radically Queer Agenda, by Avory Faucette
  • Who Are Non-Binary Activists?
  • What Changes Are Non-Binary Activists Making Online and in Local Communities?
  • What Are Non-Binary Activists’ Large-Scale Policy Goals?
  • Summary of Recommendations
  • Notes
  • References
  • 5. The Quare Agenda of RuPaul’s Drag U, by Lisa Weems
  • Popular Culture as Gender Education and the Gay Agenda
  • Representations of LGBTQ and Gender Identities in U.S. Popular Culture
  • Heteronormativity
  • Quare Subjectivity
  • Pedagogical Lessons of Drag U
  • Notes
  • References
  • 6. Damn Right We’re Hereto Destroy Marriage!, by Ryan Conrad
  • Whose Agenda?
  • The Problem With Equality
  • Embracing the Irony
  • Setting Back “the Movement”
  • The Cost of Respectability
  • Organizations Referenced
  • Notes
  • References
  • 7. Raising Queerlings: Parenting With a Queer Art of Failure, by Michelle Walks
  • Failure and Creativity
  • Researcher and Historical Contexts
  • Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and Homonormativity
  • Research Methods
  • Findings
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Section Three: Building Queer Cultural Dominance
  • 8. Indigenizing the Gay Agenda: Notes on Cultural Relativism and Homonationalismfrom the Colonial Margins, by Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour
  • Introduction: Colonized Imaginations
  • On Space and Place
  • Geographies
  • Kinsmen and Gentile’s “Canadian War on Queers”
  • Whiteness and the New Gay Agenda
  • Consensual Ally-Ship
  • “Coming in” to Space and Place: Homonationalism and the White Savior
  • References
  • 9. “Not Gay as in Happy but Queer as inFuck You”: Examining Queer Activist Spacesof Montreal and Toronto, by Billy Hébert
  • Exploring Queer Activist Sites
  • From Gay and Lesbian Space to Critical Queer Geography
  • “Not Gay as in Happy but Queer as in Fuck You”
  • Spaces of Tension
  • What Happens in Queer Spaces: From Sharing a Meal to Planning the Revolution
  • Queer Place-Making
  • Queer Politics and Social Change
  • Notes
  • References
  • 10. Queer Activism and theSeverely Normal Agenda in Alberta, 1900–Present: A Continuing Saga, by Gloria Filax
  • Contextualizing the Social and Conservative Agenda: Normal and Severely Normal
  • Kissing and Telling in Alberta, 1992–1993: Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Studies, University of Alberta
  • Redneck Beer, Gay Rodeos, k.d. lang, and Drag Kings: Disrupting Alberta Beer, Beef, and Cowboys
  • Other Activist Moments: We Are Everywhere
  • Closing Comments
  • Notes
  • References
  • 11. “Right” and Wrong: LGBTQ and AllyExperiences at a Large, Southern U.S. University, by Joshua C. Collins and Tiffany McElmurry
  • Josh’s Experience as a Gay Student
  • The Closet.
  • Dealing With Reality.
  • Gaining Voice.
  • Tiffany’s Experience as a Straight Ally Student
  • Language and Voice.
  • Speaking Out.
  • Being Brave.
  • Heteronormativity and the Closet
  • Campus Climate and the “Right”
  • Tradition vs. Progress
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Section Four: Taking Over Schools
  • 12. “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”:The Clash of Religious and Sexual Minority Rights in Ontario Catholic Schools, by Wayne J. Martino
  • Introduction
  • Banning GSAs and the Question of Sexual Minority Rights
  • The Role of the Media in Supporting Queer Activism and the Rights of Sexual Minority Youth in Catholic Schools
  • The Significance of Student Activism
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • 13. My Real “Gay Agenda”:Exposing the Holy Homophobia of Catholic Schools, by Tonya D. Callaghan
  • Anti-Homophobia Education and Its Detractors
  • Context of the Problem of Homophobia in Canadian Catholic Schools
  • A Critically Queer Emancipatory Paradigm
  • Queer as Resistance
  • Critically Queer as Praxis
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 14. Learning Gender, Sexuality, and the “Gay Agenda” in Schools, by Brian Burtch and Rebecca Haskell
  • The Gay Agenda, Gender Expression and the Religious Right
  • Regulating Gender Norms
  • Lack of Exposure to Queer People
  • The Actual Gay Agenda
  • The Actual Gay Agenda in Schools
  • Notes
  • References
  • 15. Dismantling Folk Theories and Claiming Space Within aSocial Justice Agenda, by Renée DePalma
  • Folk Theory #1. Everyone should be treated equally, fairly, and respectfully, with no special privileges for any one group
  • Folk Theory #2. Homosexuality is mainly about sex, and, as such, is an inappropriate topic for young children
  • Folk Theory #3: Homosexuality is deviant, transgressive, and approaches criminality
  • Folk Theory #4: Openly addressing LGBT issues might offend someone’s religion
  • The “Gay Agenda” Recast as a Responsibility for Social Justice
  • Notes
  • References
  • 16. Queering Educational Research and thePolitics of “Conservatively Queer”:Sexmuteness in American Public Schools, by Jenna McWilliams
  • Silence Outside and In: Sexmuteness in the American Public School System
  • Enter the Queer Educational Researcher
  • Queering Methodology: Against Narrative
  • A Meditation on the Future of Educational Research
  • Notes
  • References
  • Section Five: Seizing Control of Politics and the Law
  • 17. My “Gay Agenda”: A Response to Focus on the Family, by Warren J. Blumenfeld
  • Background
  • Why Promoting Safe Schools Should Be an Item in Everyone’s “Agenda”
  • [Not A] Conclusion: What My Safe Schools “Agenda” Looks Like
  • Assessment:
  • Policies:
  • Personnel trainings:
  • Implement and participate in a “safe space” program in your school:
  • Support groups:
  • Counseling:
  • Resources:
  • Curriculum and school programs:
  • Adult role models:
  • Teacher certification:
  • Continuing education:
  • Notes
  • References
  • 18. Our Right to Choose:Religious Conservatives VersusLGBTQ Inclusive Schools, by Catherine Taylor
  • Homophobic Schools as Conversion-Therapy Technology
  • Conversion Therapy and “Sexual Orientation Identity”
  • Sexual Orientation and the “Born This Way” Strategy
  • Sexual Orientation and the “Fluidity” Strategy
  • Competing Rights and Relative Harms
  • Notes
  • References
  • 19. Queering Schools, Gay–Straight Alliances, and the Law, by Donn Short
  • Introduction
  • Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs)
  • The Law
  • The Queering of Schools
  • References
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Conclusion: Affirming Queer Presence in Schools, Law, and Society, by Gerald Walton
  • Note
  • Reference
  • Contributors

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I would like to thank the Christian fundamentalists, extremists, and social conservatives, particularly those in my home province of British Columbia, whose attitudes, bigotry, and political activism compelled me to break free of the “ex-gay” industry, and 20 years later, engage in this book project.

Huge thanks go to my partner, Aaron Wilson, whose support of me, my work, and this project is rock solid.

Kudos go to Özlem Sensoy for going above and beyond the call of duty, as usual.

I would like to thank these scholars, activists, and authors—queers and straight allies alike—whose generous feedback helped to shape and strengthen the chapters in this book: Lee Airton, Michael Barron, Becky Bridgman, Ann Chinnery, Matthew A. Eichler, Yuri Forbes-Petrovich, Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, Andrée Gacoin, John J. Guiney Yallop, Scott Gust, Rodney Hunt, Darla Linville, Elizabeth Meyer, Robert Mizzi, Shannon Moore, Vicki Nygaard, Jan Oakley, Karleen Pendleton Jimenez, Claudia Ruitenberg, Irina Schmitt, Amy Shema, Tobias Sperlich, Darren Stanley, Rachael Sullivan, Taiva Tegler, and Scott Thompson.

Thank you to political cartoonist Ben Sargent for generously (and quickly!) giving permission to reprint one of his cartoons in this volume, and also to Toby Goodfellow for responding to my plea in the 11th hour for an hourglass.

Typesetting, design, and hourglass photo credits: G. Walton.

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Lessons I Have Learned as a Recovered Fundamentalist“Ex-Gay” Christian

Gerald Walton

Run For Your Lives or the Homosexual Steamroller Will Crush You!

It was 1989 when a full-page public notice appeared in the Vancouver Sun newspaper, announcing in capital letters one-and-a-half inches tall that “TIME IS RUNNING OUT.” The Gay Games were scheduled to take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, the following year. The noticedeclared, also in capital letters, that, “. . . BECAUSE THESE GAMES WILL BRING GOD’S JUDGMENT UPON US ALL IN THIS CITY, WE THEREFORE FORBIDTHEM IN THE NAME AND AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST. WE BELIEVE THAT THEY SHALL NOT TAKE PLACE . . .” The “WE” is specified only as “Christian leaders . . . who love this city and its people.” As many people did at the time, you might be wondering what these Christian leaders meant by“judgment.”The notice included a sentence that spelled out their exact meaning: “History provides abundant evidence of cities and nations destroyed by internal moral decay,” of which they considered homosexuality to be one form. Putting two and two together, the claim was that Vancouver, and even Canada, would be destroyed by God if the Gay Games were to take place. Despite the dire warning, the event washeld in Vancouver in August 1990. More than two decades later, Vancouver remains a growing and thriving metropolis.

As a member of a fundamentalist Christian church at the time, I heard plenty of worryexpressed by fellow congregants in the leadup to the Gay Games. There were plans to leave the city on the opening day and other strategies of protection against God’s retribution upon Vancouver. Many people I knew at the time subscribed to the prophesy of Reverend Bob Birch, member of a group called Watchmen of ← 1 | 2 → the Nation (there were no women watching the nation, apparently), that the city would be leveled in an earthquake if the “Sodomite invasion” were to take place (Correia, 2011). To state the obvious, the “invasion” came and went more than 20 years ago and Vancouver has yet to be swallowed up by God’s holy reckoning. I can almost hear the church members and leaders explain the contradiction: “God’s timing is not our timing,” they would say.

These sorts of rationalizations show that most followers do not hold the Bob Birches of the world accountable for their words. But rationalizations show more than lack of accountability. I learned another significant lesson from the fundamentalist Christian responses to the Gay Games and especially from the paid public notice in the Vancouver Sun. Rather than leave queer athletes to their own devices and not bring more attention to the Games, responses such as the public notice, which would have cost between $6,000 and $8,000 at the time,1 are an indication that queers have a tremendous amount of power in society.2 For instance, according to Birch’s logic, congregating together to perform our athletic feats is enough to incite God to destroy entire cities. Referring to queer visibility and activism more broadly, the late Baptist pastor and televangelist Jerry Falwell declared that a “homosexual steamroller” is running roughshod over America. Ridiculous imagery, perhaps, but through it, Falwell raised the specter that “homosexuals will own America.”3

As absurd as most people might think all of this to be, this is precisely how many religious and social conservatives continue to depict us. Apparently, along with the straight allies whom we have duped and ensnared into our schemes and plans for social engineering, we hold tremendous power not only over society, but also in politics, wars, weather events, and just about anything else. According to Rick Santorum, a United States senator, failed Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election, and inspiration for Dan Savage’s scatological rebranding of “santorum,” a “homosexual cabal” stole the presidential election by deploying “homosexual dirty tricks.”4

If Christian activists such as Santorum are to be believed, God is specifically unleashing his wrath (pronoun intended) upon the United States because American society is increasingly more tolerant, if not accepting, of queers.5 Thus, queers are accused of not only stealing the ← 2 | 3 → 2012 U.S. presidential election and returning President Obama to the White House for a second term, but also for the devastation of the U.S. East Coast by Hurricane Sandy in 2012,6 the terrorist attacks of 9/11,7 the Sago Mine disaster that killed 12 miners in West Virginia in 2006,8 the Nazi Holocaust,9 dead blackbirds falling from the sky in Arkansas,10 the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,11 the massacre of Dutch troops in Srebrenica in 1995,12 making children gay through anti-bullying programs in schools,13 and, ultimately, Judgment Day itself.14

Evidently, then, queers are supervillains with the power of superheroes. The claims of what we have wrought upon the earth magnify beliefs that operate not only among Christian activists but in the broader society. For instance, how children should be raised is a site of continual contestation. In the 1970s, Anita Bryant, Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and former celebrity spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission, successfully led a campaign to overturn a Dade County, Florida, ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Significantly, the political coalition was called Save Our Children. Over 30 years later, accusations of recruiting and molesting children continue as predictable political fare among Christian activists. Many of them point to the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) as “proof” that queers actively recruit children, ignoring the many ways and occasions that queer people and organizations have repudiated NAMBLA. In 1994, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) stated that, “advocacy for sex between adult men and boys and the removal of legal protections for children…constitute a form of child abuse and are repugnant to GLAAD.”15 Such disavowals mean little to Christian activists, and furthermore, lesbians apparently do not matter to them. Ironically, the issue of NAMBLA is where queer groups and Christians groups seem to share common ground.

Still depicted as active recruiters by a broad swath of religious conservatives, we apparently conspire to ensnare anyone, including children, into our deviant “lifestyle.” This is a perennially favorite term deployed by Christian activists to depict us as one-dimensional, meaning preoccupied by our carnal and insatiable lust for gay sex. According to online Christian magazine Charisma, being “homosexual” ← 3 | 4 → can result from being raped by a satanic demon.16Another absurd claim was made by media mogul and prolific conservative Christian Pat Robertson in 2013. He asserted that gay men spread AIDS by cutting people with special rings when people shake hands with them.17Clearly, such activists are well beyond the bounds of rhyme and reason. Yet, their claims continue to have some political currency.

According to some activists, it is not enough that we want to be able to have consensual sex that is free from state regulation and criminal penalties, or that we have legislation that is designed to protect us from discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry. We want much more. In addition to these demands that Christian activists find so objectionable and outrageous and that they continually and willfully misrepresent as “special rights,” we supposedly want everyone else to become obsessed with homo sex, too, or at least to not be straight. According to Christian activists, then, our agenda, to put it bluntly, is to bring about the end of humanity because, of course, we cannot procreate without technological intervention or third-party involvement. Sterile straight couples and those who opt to not have children are apparently not hell-bent on bringing about the end of human civilization. Only we are. Further, we are probably to blame for their sterility and their choice to not procreate in the first place. Of course we are.

The Gay Agenda, Spelled Out

In addition to the social, political, and environmental chaos that ensues at our bidding (well, technically, it results from God’s wrath, but we seem to get the credit for it), we also deploy our power to bring about the end of the world and we will stop at nothing to fulfill our agenda. From the vantage point of religious zealotry, the gay agenda takes the shape of evil that is embodied by us in the guise of common, normal people with whom unsuspecting, God-fearing people and their children interact every day. We might teach your children at schools, we might be your co-workers and neighbors, we might serve your food in restaurants everywhere. Be ever vigilant; the agenda is one of gay deceit, wickedness, sexual depravity, child molestation, and erosion of beloved godly institutions such as marriage and proper gender roles for boys, girls, men, and women as ← 4 | 5 → God intended them to be. Queer people are out to change the world by demanding to be recognized in all levels of society as queers.

As aptly indicated in the insightful political cartoon by Ben Sargent (see Figure 1), we will exploit the U.S. Constitution, and those of other countries, to our full advantage. Our evil knows no bounds!


Figure 1. Copyright Ben Sargent, reprinted with permission. Austin American-Statesman, October 2005.

And just how do religious zealots know about our nefarious gay agenda? Michael Swift blabbed the secrets of our organization’s plans for world domination in an article from 1987 that was published in Gay Community News, which ran in Boston from 1973 to 1992. Called “Gay Revolutionary,” the satirical article (Swift, 1987) has been used by many Christian activists ever since as proof of our manifesto. Consider these dark and foreboding excerpts:

We shall sodomize your sons…[who] shall become our minions to do our bidding.

We will eliminate heterosexual liaisons.… ← 5 | 6 →

We will infiltrate your ranks.

The family unit—spawning ground of lies, betrayals, mediocrity, hypocrisy, and violence—will be abolished.

Perfect boys will be conceived and grown in a genetic laboratory.

Any man contaminated
with heterosexual lust will be automatically barred from any position of influence.

We too are capable of firing guns and manning the barricades of the ultimate revolution.

That Swift’s text is male-centered indicates how sexism is at play in gay agenda rhetoric from Christian activists, starting with the phrase “gay agenda,” as though “gay” unproblematically includes lesbians, bisexuals, and other sexual minorities. Another assumption is that transgender people and racialized queers are subcategories of “gay” and thus need little specific mention. The logic seems to be that, since men have more social privilege and power, White men in particular, efforts to mitigate or eliminate the gay agenda need to focus primarily on gay men and gay male activists. Also, most Christian activists are White. The sexism and White focus of gay-agenda politics, then, marginalizes lesbians, queers of colour, and trans people, among others, and presumes that the interests of White gay men represent the interests of all sexual and gender minorities. Gender and Whiteness are not the concern of Christian activists because their aim is to homogenize us.

Swift’s text, and responses to it, certainly did not attempt to explicate issues of gender and race, implying that all queers are unanimous in their support of the gay agenda. Facts to the contrary do not seem to matter to Christian activists; their focus remains on disseminating hate that feeds on fear and ignorance. In 2004, for instance, a conservative organization called the American Family Association disseminated Swift’s text in a mass mailing, claiming that many of his visions had already come to pass. What Christian activists failed to recognize, and those who did conveniently neglected to mention, is that Swift’s text is satire. The first line of the article is often not included ← 6 | 7 → in reproductions and disseminations. It says, “This essay is outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor” (Swift, 1987). Apparently, satire goes unheard by ears that refuse to listen, particularly those of Christian activists.

Construing Swift’s Nostradamus-like satire as literal prophesies of queers’ power to shape society and force God’s hand may be ridiculous, but it would be a mistake to dismiss such construal as crackpot extremism too quickly.

Observations of a Former Christian Fundamentalist


IX, 356
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (February)
rhetorical strategy fear hostility civilization entertainment industry human rights family education law religious right
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 356 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Gerald Walton (Volume editor)

Gerald Walton (PhD, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario) focuses on intersectionality studies, power, privilege, and educational policy in his research and teaching of undergraduate and graduate students. He is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


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