Did you know there's a gay Olympic games? Neither did I until Monday, when the complaints started coming in.
Turns out the company I represent at work is one of the sponsors of the Gay Games, and of course that puts us on a list. One of these special interest group website thingies sent out some sort of high priority alert email to everyone on their list telling them that the company is sponsoring this event and also apparently that the rational way to handle it is to call up and curse at whoever answers the phone and spew all the homophobic bullshit they can think of.
I never cease to be amazed by this sort of thing. Most people are intelligent and rational enough to understand that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is nobody's business but their own, but some people on the far right (and I make a point of specifying "some" people and the "far" right because most people on the right are much more mature than this) are of the opinion that other people's private lives must be monitored and controlled lest anyone ever do anything that they don't agree with. It's one thing to dislike homosexuality. It's quite another to take retributive action against any agency that isn't as homophobic as you. Rational people say "I disagree with this, but to each their own." Far right lunatics say "I disagree with this, so I will do everything in my power to put a stop to it."
It's impressive how many of these hateful morons don't even have the courage to put a name to their sentiments. The more vile and venomous the comments, the less likely the person will take credit for them. Maybe deep down they know they're full of shit and are ashamed. Wishful thinking, I suppose. Many of the people clearly called us just to try to provoke an argument. After an hour of this, nerves get kind of frayed. After a ten hour shift, you're wishing you could visit these people at home and express your opinions on what offensive bigoted pricks they are in great detail in Morse Code on their skull with a tire iron.
Of course, this offensive (no pun intended, honest) led to a counteroffensive. The first day a few contacts trickled in. The second we were swamped by angry people protesting the sponsorship. The third day the people who supported us started contacting, so we got a nice balance of "Thank you for standing up to these crazy right-wing assholes" contacts mixed in with the "God hates fags" contacts. This is way more stressful than it sounds. The contacts, pro and con, have already reached five figures.
In a week, this'll die down and we'll only hear about it sporadically it until the Gay Games are scheduled to occur, when we'll get swamped again. That scheduled time is: Summer, 2006. It's never too soon for the Far Right to start bitching about things that don't concern them, I guess.
Homophobia, like other forms of bigotry, drives me completely batshit insane, as it does to a lot of people on the call floor (though apparently there are some people on the call floor who side with the bigots; I'm disappointed but not at all surprised). Trying to find something to hold onto for balance in all of this, I struck upon the idea of copying down all of the most entertaining and/or offensive comments that I became aware of. Most of them are ones I handled personally, but we're all sharing stories in disbelief at these people. Do they have any idea what they sound like?
Interrupting the list after one item is bad form, but I'm going to do it anyway. It came up in a meeting we had specifically about this issue at work (to try to deal with the various emotions, some of them somewhat ugly, that this issue was starting to bring out) that most people don't seem to understand the word "diversity." It's not some evil word that means you're going to be forced to change, or required to convert, or conned into accepting something you don't agree with. All it means is that a group of people are dissimilar from one another, are unlike each other. That's all. To be against diversity is to say that you don't want anyone to be any different than you, that you don't accept that anyone can choose differently than you. It's exactly the same mindset that says that people who don't believe in the same god as you aren't equal to you as human beings. Here's a concept: You're against diversity? Try changing yourself to be like other people. Or do you just think the rest of the world should change to suit you? Yeah, I thought so.