My friends are coming out, in stripes.
My Facebook friends that is. They’ve altered their online appearance by superimposing a rainbow flag over their profile pic. I didn’t quite get it when I saw the first one, but then there was another, and another, and finally one who carefully explained that it was a show of support for the recent decision of the US Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.
America is now the 21st country in the world to do so. It may well be the biggest one too. By sheer numbers (319 million) it dwarfs the influence of many other countries who have preceded them, including my own, Scotland (5.3 million).
But, this is not about numbers, it is instead about the powerful and pervasive influence of American culture and the way in which the gay community has so effectively used the media to influence the hearts and minds of so many people around the world.
There is a document that ought to be required reading for anyone interested in the gay rights movement. It was written in 1987 and was later expanded into book form, called, The Overhauling of Straight America.
It is a remarkable and prescient document outlining a strategy that has now proved more effective than its original authors could ever have hoped or imagined possible. Reading it now, it is plain to see that the discussion of gay rights and its ever growing presence in the media was not accidental, but carefully, even masterfully planned from the beginning.
I’ve lifted a few quotes that now ring so true.
The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with keen emotion…The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome.
Are you tired of discussing the issue? I once listened to a preacher who was so long winded that, before the end of his sermon I was ready to agree with anything he said, if only he would shut up.
The writers were conscious that many found homosexual practice offensive and cautioned that early exposure might be counter-productive.
In the early stages of any campaign to reach straight America, the masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behaviour itself. Instead, the imagery of sex should be downplayed and gay rights should be reduced to an abstract social question as much as possible. First let the camel get his nose inside the tent–only later his unsightly derriere!
Does the gay movement have an ‘unsightly derriere’ that it’s trying to hide?
In his book, Can Man Live without God, Ravi Zacharias quotes, eighteenth century Scottish political writer Andrew Fletcher who said, “Give me the making of the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws.” Fletcher argues that compared to the arts, the law is virtually powerless to win the hearts and minds of a nation. The arts, Zacharias goes on to say, have the power to by-pass the intellect. For changing minds, there is no medium more effective means than the visual media. The writers of “Overhauling” knew this intuitively and exploited it to maximum effect.
Where we talk is important. The visual media, film and television, are plainly the most powerful image-makers in Western civilization. The average American household watches over seven hours of TV daily. Those hours open up a gateway into the private world of straights, through which a Trojan horse might be passed.
A Trojan horse? Need I pose the question, “Why is such language employed for a cause we now all agree is so harmless, even virtuous?”
The paper continues by suggesting that the gay community endorse and exploit its status as a persecuted and oppressed minority.
Gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector…the plain fact is that the gay community is weak and must manipulate the powers of the weak, including the play for sympathy.
The paper goes on to talk about the need to solicit funds before introducing gay issues in the public forum. The introduction of gay characters in movies and television is essential, as is the running of openly gay political candidates.
Advertising, testimonial, celebrity endorsement, the vilification of its opponents and victimization of its adherents all form part of a larger plan to re-cast the image of the homosexual in American society.
The strategy is summarized in this concluding statement.
We have sketched out here a blueprint for transforming the social values of straight America. At the core of our program is a media campaign to change the way the average citizens view homosexuality.
The most interesting part of the paper is that it never attempts to address the question of whether homosexual practice is right or wrong in any fundamental or absolute way. We have devoted countless thousands of hours in the church and in the public arena to arguing over whether homosexuality is an aberrant lifestyle choice or a harmless function of genetics.
But, the authors of the paper never intended to prove it one way or another. They only wanted to change the public image of homosexuality. Their success lay in the fact that homosexuality was being discussed at all. The debates themselves, not their outcome, had legitimized the cause. It had come out of the closet and was now an authentic part of American culture.
As I said above, it is a remarkable piece of work, all the more so in its practical success on a national and, I believe, international scale.
The moral question has, over and again, proven an impenetrable thicket of controversy and speculation, and it is certainly not my intention to argue in this paper ‘for or against.’
With some alarm though, I do want to raise the issue of how easily we’ve all become stripy.
For what other cause would we so publicly alter our own image? It’s not just a ‘Like’ or a throw away comment about our devotion to the Longhorns or the delicious steak we’re happily munching. Putting stripes over a profile pic is a comprehensive image change.
See how completely effective the ‘Overhaul’ has been? The strategy, the method, the execution was brilliant. But, what if something else was put into that great machine of change? What else could we be convinced of?
We might be convinced that the world is dying and we’re to blame. We might be convinced that infanticide is the most constructive way to build happy families. We might be convinced that Jesus really is the answer to the problem of human suffering, or alternately that he is the most insidious menace the world has ever known. We might be convinced that ISIS has our best interests at heart. Or, that fat, not sugar is the real enemy of public health. Or, that if we all carried guns, the world would be a much safer place. Or that race is an early indicator of one’s predilection for violence.
And, we might be convinced that people who disagree with us are actually very dangerous and must have their freedoms curbed.
Something has now shifted in the homosexual debate and the gay community has, for better or worse lost an essential part of their identity: if they ever were, they are no longer a persecuted minority. They no longer have any legislative enemies, no more battles to fight, no more enemies to conquer. The movement has simply won.
What remains is to see what they will do with the victory.