Note: I should underscore, as it might not be particularly clear, that I do not speak for the Bangor Daily News editorial staff, nor am I on the receiving end of their input. I am just a blogger.
I have encountered a handful of complaints from my friends and allies in and of the LBGTQ community. They are frustrated with Bangor Daily News for printing the backward, bigoted insights of Michael Heath. I understand these frustrations, as I generally believe that there is no room for discourse like Heath’s in our modern age. Why is Heath given a platform on which he is able to spew his nonsensical positions?
It is worth considering that doing so gives the groups who are organizing a response to Heath’s op ed as I write this an opportunity to remind the public that—as Dr. King indicated and has been the chorus of every civil rights battle after another since it was uttered—”The arc of the moral universe Is long, but It bends toward justice.” With regard to LBGTQ rights, it is bending quicker by the day, and the tenor and content of Heath’s speech is out of touch with our collective shift toward a society constructed upon compassion, empathy and an embrace of equal rights. We have been handed an opportunity to reiterate that Christianity is best represented by those with big hearts, not black-hearted megalomaniacal attention whores.
I see providing Heath an amplified voice as less of an endorsement than I see it as an opportunity. Giving the crazies a microphone is a surefire way to justify our own reality-based righteousness and to revoke whatever popular support for their views remains. Allow the Tea Party to ascend and to scream loudly, and watch their popularity decline. Give the increasingly far-right Maine GOP power and watch them fumble their way out of favor. Put a microphone into LePage’s face and create a slew of young advocates for reason. Allow for Heath an opportunity to get entrenched into a story about sodomy (which, by the way, he is awfully obsessed with for some reason) or whatever and… You get the idea.
I realize that as a straight male I speak to this issue from particular from a place of privilege. I have never been the target of Heath’s hate, the content of which is grating at best and excruciatingly painful and alienating at its worst. I realize that I have never been a child of a parent who buys into Heath’s myopia, or alienated by someone who sees Heath as a spokesperson for justifiable bigotry. But please consider that it was Heath’s vitriol that helped to encourage me to become more invested in the local civil rights struggle. It was certainly moving to know that bigoted laws and societal rules are harmful to my friends and peers, but to hear the face of it address me and my fellow student body as I did in the mid-00s by reducing a delicate issue about human rights, decency and civility to one about how bolts go into nuts, and that’s the natural order, am-I-right-guys? That, for me, was a tangible reality check. I walked into a talk by Heath with grotesque fascination and I left an activist.
And so I am no fan of the man’s words, or his points of view, particularly as it becomes increasingly fringe in nature in the context of where our culture is heading. I hope, though, that the occasional shining of a light on his sentiments will underscore how ugly these outlooks are for a new generation of activists who were otherwise not fully aware of how real and disturbing hatred looks in its rawest form.
Heath’s is the voice of an ugly and cringe-inducing past, ours is that of the future.