About two weeks ago Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle said that he was going to try to install quarter-of-a-million-dollar toilets in that city to curb man-on-man bathroom sex that no one could confirm was actually happening. Yesterday the mayor apologized for not fighting this nonexistent problem sooner, and today there was a rally against this mayor with broad support from various groups.
Of course, there has been support for the mayor. One WorldNetDaily writer, Janet Folger, who's obviously vying for a Tony, put together this piece of theater for your edification:
Q: "Mommy?" Why is that part of our library closed off?
A: Well, Johnny, Ft. Lauderdale Commissioners Cindi Hutchinson, Charlotte E. Rodstrom, and Carlton B. Moore voted to take out the books that everybody can read and replace them with homosexual pornography. (Call them at 954-828-5004)
Q: Mommy? What's homosexual pornography?
A: It's what you saw in the public restroom earlier.
Q: Mommy? Why are those people so angry at the nice mayor?
A: Because he wants to protect you from all of it.
Folger also says that she wants Naugle to run for president because of his strong stance in favor of automatic-door-opening toilets. I suppose that's because WorldNetDaily is the thinking person's conservative news source.
Another person decided to write in to the Sun-Sentinel praising the mayor for not giving in to the "radical activism of Fort Lauderdale's gay community." Of course, he says he's no homophobe; some of his best friends are gay!
Our response, though, is the only thing that we have power over and is therefore worth examining more closely. Surely, we all know by now that no matter how much we try to fit in, no matter how many PTA meetings we go to. no matter how many times we denounce those who have public sex, no matter how many clip-art photos we put up at our advocacy groups' webpages, there will be people like Jim Naugle who will fantasize about man-on-man public sex (apparently the heterosexual public sex doesn't bother him). So are we responding to this effectively?
Something that stood out from Matt Foreman's speech was this line:
Today, he exponentially increased the damage through his frankly shocking, patently false, and bigoted remarks. They are utterly unacceptable coming from anyone, anywhere, anytime. But for them to spew from the mouth of the mayor of a great city with one of the largest gay populations in the nation, a city where gay and lesbian tourists pump $1 billion into the local economy each year is beyond imagining.
While it's ironic that the mayor of Fort Lauderdale to make such comments, is it really effective to point out how much money gays and lesbians pump into its economy? Would homophobia somehow be justified if it occurred in a gay non-tourist destination, like, say, Indianapolis?
He goes on:
The only way to begin to overcome this blot and to avoid greater community and economic harm is for every city and county elected official and every civil and religious leader to immediately and unequivocally denounce the Mayor's remarks, and that certainly includes a vote of censure and repudiation by the City Commission.
A threat to take away gay dollars? Really? An ethic based on making and spending money won't do one of the poorer 5%'s of the population all that much good, and while it's fun to bandy around the dollar figure, I don't think that the mayor has money on the mind when he's thinking about spending millions to curb sex that isn't happening.
This one comes from UNITE Fort Lauderdale's Waymon Hudson:
One of the main issues talked about at the rally were the mayor's comments made at his 1pm press conference stating that our city shouldn't reach out to gay tourists. This is in spite of the fact that an estimated 1 million gay and lesbian tourists bring in between 1.2 and 2 billion dollars in revenue each year to our city (Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau).
Again with the money, but this time it's couched in a demand that we be marketed towards.
But having money and spending money isn't going to help out the most marginalized queers and it isn't going to mean that we're full citizens and it's not going to help the larger goal of complete equality and it's not going to change the minds of people who are hell-bent on wasting it to further marginalize non-normative sexuality.
This is fundamentally a control issue, with the mayor, et al., trying to control sex no one can see (their plan to fight it is to basically expose it to the public, implying that it's completely out-of-sight right now), simply for the sake of controlling those who would have that sex. And when it comes to controlling non-normative sexuality, money can only help a few people fly under the radar better, but such moves do nothing to help those who cannot participate or refuse to participate in such a system.