My Wild Night in WeHo

A few months ago I had occasion to spend an evening in West Hollywood, California.  It was a Friday after work, and given that city’s reputation for flamboyant Gayness (I have an LDS friend who calls the place Hollyweird, Californicate), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  As a worst case, I anticipated scenes of unspeakable depravity — a TGIF-style, alcohol-fueled Pride Parade Bacchanalia with rainbow-haired people French-kissing, buff, shirtless men wearing leather chaps and holding hands, dogs and cats living together — in short, a shocking confirmation of the very worst of our conservative LDS suspicions about The Lifestyle.  And as we turned off La Cienega onto Beverly Boulevard, my very worst fears were realized.

Everywhere I looked, I saw roving packs of strangely dressed men.  They were everywhere, you couldn’t miss them if you tried.  They crowded the sidewalks, loitered on the corners, and strolled nonchalantly through the crosswalks wearing their outrageous get-ups and unusual hairstyles.  There were literally hundreds of them, and men outnumbered women at least 20 to 1, there were simply very few females among them.  Surely, this is good evidence of what happens when traditional roles are rejected and we don’t stress the importance of man/woman marriage.

As it turns out, what I was observing was as traditional as it is possible to be.  The men were Hasidim, orthodox Jews on the way to synagogue on a Friday evening at sundown to begin their Shabbat observance.  They wore long black coats, black hats, beards, and very long sideburns.  The reason I saw so few females is because in strictly orthodox homes, the women are at home on Friday evening, lighting the candles and preparing a nice meal which the family will enjoy together when the men and boys return from synagogue.  These people are culturally very much like LDS people — they have large families, with an average of 7 to 8 children per couple, they value family, education and hard work, and they take their scriptures seriously. 

I have since been reliably informed that Jewish people and gay people live side-by-side peacefully and productively in other places as well, and this fact raises several questions.  Given that gay people and Jewish people are the two most visible factions in West Hollywood, why haven’t we heard of acrimonious confrontations between them?  Why aren’t gay men beating down the doors of the synagogue demanding that the Rabbi sanction their marriage?  Why aren’t the Hasidim outraged that an openly gay man is allowed to teach in the local public school?  And finally, why are people who take Leviticus seriously better at getting along with their neighbors who are homosexual than so many of the rest of us?

Comments

  1. Mark Brown says:

    I think this experience is also good evidence that when culture warriors make broad claims about Judeo-Christian values, they are speaking out of turn a little bit, at least about the Judeo- part.

  2. The WeHo scene is much more genteel than people think. If you really want to have your socks blown off, try the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco . . .

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Did you meet up with Mike?

  4. Mark Brown says:

    Yes.

  5. Why aren’t the Hasidim outraged that an openly gay man is allowed to teach in the local public school?

    Part of the reason may be that they don’t send their kids to public schools. The orthodox Jews in my old neighborhood in Baltimore all sent their kids to Jewish schools. We lived in an area with tons of Jewish families, but there was not one Jew in my kids’ elementary school (unless there was a black Jew in there that I didn’t notice, which is possible, but not likely).

    Not that they would necessarily care about having a gay teacher if they did send their kids to public schools. But my suspicion is that a general concern that their children not be unduly influenced by the values of the broader society may be one motivation for keeping their kids out of public schools.

  6. Keep in mind that many gay men feel quite alienated in WeHo. Some of the “depravity” you might not have noticed is (pace MikeInWeHo) an undercurrent of looksism, ageism, fashism (as in clothes), and — most of all — weightism.

    In short, just like their straight counterparts on Third Street Promenade. Plus ça change…

  7. I spent an evening in West Hollywood a few months ago, too. I was with my parents, who are in their 70s, and my brother, who is gay but lives in Taiwan.

    We went to a gay bar to see a drag show that my cousin was performing in.

    Every time the MC introduced us to the crowd as Dolly’s family (my cousin Scott’s stage name is Dolly), we got lots of applause. The show was less raunchy than I expected, but I think they may have toned it down a bit for my parents’ sake. My dad did get a short lap dance by one of the performers, which was hilarious. Especially when he pulled his camera out and inadvertently pointed it right at the dancer’s crotch.

  8. It sounds like my neighborhood. I live in central Phoenix and every Friday night and Saturday the streets are filled with Orthodox families walking to and from church. We also have the largest concentration of gay bars in this area, and many of my neighbors are gay couples. I love my neighborhood.

  9. I wonder how much of this is a difference in political expectations…

    Orthodox Jews clearly have high moral expectations for themselves– but I don’t see a lot of evidence that they want the political system to impose those expectations on society writ large.

    Mormons seem almost unique in our expectation that the government protect us from those things we don’t like: gambling, liquor/full strength beer, and gay people.

    Mark– on the flip side, gay people aren’t knocking on many doors of religious institutions seeking marriage equality. The courthouse would do just find for most.

    So maybe the expectations of these two groups are in line. Gay people don’t expect religious people to give up their beliefs. And Orthodox Jews don’t seem determined to force their beliefs into civil laws.

  10. I’m slightly confused…does the presence of Orthodox Jews in the same neighborhood indicate they get along well? How is this known? It’s not like Jews haven’t lived near other people they don’t get along well with.

    Am I missing something? There is the advantage that you can be all sorts of different shade of Jew…but if you are talking about black robes and curls and all…I would think their attitude would be similar to the LDS church.

  11. based on things like this… http://www.religionfacts.com/homosexuality/judaism.htm

    The “CJLS Consensus Statement of Policy Regarding Homosexual Jews in the Conservative Movement” approved March 25, 1992, reads as follows:

    (A) We will not perform commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians.

    (B) We will not knowingly admit avowed homosexuals to our rabbinical and cantorial schools, or the Rabbinical Assembly or Cantors’ Assembly. At the same time, we will not instigate witch-hunts against those who are already members or students.

  12. Jews also have the Noahide law http://www.noahide.com/7laws.htm that is specifically what Gentiles should be doing (and not doing.. gay sex included)….

  13. MikeInWeHo says:

    The CJLS reversed that in 2006, britt k. Each congregation is now allowed to set its own policy regarding gay members. The Conservative congregation that some friends of mine attend in the San Fernando Valley has a lesbian rabbi now.

  14. thanks mike..that’s a huge turnaround in a very short time then.

  15. There is tension between orthodox Jewish people and gays and there is a tension within orthodox Judaism because there are orthodox Jewish gay people.

    http://thejewishstar.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/coming-out-of-the-closet-in-yeshiva-university/

    When the event described in the linked article happened, I worked at Yeshiva College. There was quite a bit of buzz about it. The event was followed up a few days later by a reiteration, by religious authority figures, that homosexuality is banned/condemned by the Torah.

    A period of years ago, before I worked at Yeshiva College, I was on a train going to a wedding in Long Island. I overheard a man speaking Hebrew and we ended up having a truly amazing and extensive conversation about a number of Hebrew Bible stories – particularly about the story of Jacob. Some time after that I began working at Yeshiva College and discovered he was a student there.

    Then a few years later this same student and I met for lunch. At a certain point I playfully asked him if he was dating someone and he came out and told me that he was gay. He told me as a student at Yeshiva College he had gone through hell. He was living as a gay man, had a gay partner who converted to orthodox Judaism to be with him, and then to his great sadness one morning he awoke to discover that his companion had died of a sudden heart attack.

    From what I have seen – much of the same tension that exists in Mormonism in regards to gays is mirrored in orthodox Judaism. There are many people who grow up as orthodox Jews and they live with a terrible inner conflict because they discover at some point that they are gay. Many within the religious community are sensitive to the suffering of these people – but at the same time the religious leaders are not prepared to re-write the laws they have been given by God.

  16. Within the article I linked above is a link to another article that deserves some attention as well:

    http://thejewishstar.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/opinion-compassion-is-also-a-jewish-virtue/

  17. Interesting articles…thanks for sharing. The second one especially seems to hold a very clear line, but emphasizes seeing the individual compassionately.

  18. MikeInWeHo says:

    It’s probably worth noting that the Jewish community is much less homogeneous than the Mormon community. The Hasidim that Mark saw walking around on our wild evening in WeHo (And wild it was! I had a margarita, and desert!) are a distinct minority and largely keep to themselves. To me they seem more like the Jewish equivalent of the Amish. Of course, anybody who has seen members of both groups will understand why. They look almost exactly alike.

  19. MoHoHawaii says:

    I think the missing bit here is that Hasidic Jews have a very different level of insularity within their community than Mormons. The Hasidic focus is entirely within their community. Gentiles, whether they be Methodists or secular homosexuals, are simply outside their scope of interest.

    I once attended a gay men’s retreat that was held at a youth camp owned by a conservative Jewish organization. (I can hardly imagine that the LDS Church would rent out one of its Boy Scout camps to a gay group.) I asked the organizer of the event about it. He said that the conservative religious organization made the camp available not out of any sympathy for gays but as a practical matter. They didn’t need the facility for the entire season, so they rented it out to outsiders on the empty weeks. Whether it was gay people or Presbyterians didn’t matter to them. Gentiles were gentiles, all equally foreign.

    Read the book Postville for a glimpse into this kind of insularity. It’s quite different from the LDS view.

  20. I’ve written the history of West Hollywood and own its only real newspaper, so I think I’ll make a stab at answering your questions (so ong as they are not rhetorical).
    1) You asked “Given that gay people and Jewish people are the two most visible factions in West Hollywood, why haven’t we heard of acrimonious confrontations between them?
    a) Your visit to Beverly Boulevard placed you outside West Hollywood. Very few Orthodox live in West Hollywood, as there are no Orthodox Synagogues. While West Hollywood is Jewish in the sense that Skokie, IL, is Jewish – there are many practicing and non-practicing Jews – Jewish people have a long memory of oppression, and because of that shared memory (gays have been long oppressed by christians, too), they feel kinship with, not acrimony toward, gay people.
    You see, (and this must be a christian or other christian-like derivative like Mormonism site). the Jews have a keen sense of the righteous – that’s why they were so involved in civil rights marches in the deep south.
    2) Why aren’t gay men beating down the doors of the synagogue demanding that the Rabbi sanction their marriage?
    b) There’s no need to beat anyone’s doors down – they have long ago been thrown open in a demonstration of tolerance. The Jewish synagogues around town (one of the mostly gay) do most of the marrying of gay men (and why do you leave out the equal number of lesbians who wish to marry?).
    In fact, our openly-lesbian rabbi, Denise Eger from Kol Ami, was recently named one of the ten-most influential rabbis in Southern California recently by the NY Times.
    3) Why aren’t the Hasidim outraged that an openly gay man is allowed to teach in the local public school?
    c) In Los Angeles we have openly-gay or lesbian people elected to the school board. Three of the five city council people in West Hollywood are opnely gay. The Hasidim use schools to their liking and leave well enough alone.
    4) And finally, why are people who take Leviticus seriously better at getting along with their neighbors who are homosexual than so many of the rest of us?
    d) Now, there’s a question I cannot answer definitively, but I suggest that you’ll find it inside yourself.
    Gay people (whom so many of you accuse of “choosing” a gay lifestyle) are identical to you in every way except the inculcation you received about right and wrong took – and the inculcation gay people receive as children makes no sense because it dishonors God.
    If you don’t like what God has wrought, your issue is with him and not the people he has created in his image.
    No one chooses to be gay so they can a) be fired at will, b) be evicted from their home at will c) be beaten, or worse (I was – the worse) for simply being gay, d) discriminated against in every way imaginable, including by our government.
    Those are things that EVERY gay person faces every day.
    What do gay people get out of “choosing to be gay” that makes all that pale in comparison, makes all that worthwhile?

    The answer to that final question is this – the people who treat gays with decency you lack have the decency you lack.
    Ryan Gierach, 323.650.2897 – editor@wehonews.com – contact me if you would care to engage in a rational discussion.

  21. MoHoHawaii, I wonder though if the conservative Jewish group you are talking about is nearly as insular as orthodox Jewish groups. That conservative group must not care much about kashrut – as it would take only the briefest of moments for any Gentile group, gay or not, to de-kosherize a kitchen.

  22. MoHoHawaii says:

    Re #21 [I]t would take only the briefest of moments … to de-kosherize a kitchen

    I should have mentioned that. One of the only restrictions on the use of the property was that any visiting group had to set up their own outdoor kitchen. The kosher kitchen was off limits. Our group set up a catering tent. This limitation was applied to all outside groups that rented the facility.

    My impression from talking to the organizer was the the camp owners saw all gentile groups as equally uninteresting. It’s worth letting this sink in for a minute, since it’s so very different from the LDS way of looking at things.

    (I recommend the documentary Trembling before G-d about conservative Jews and homosexuality for an inside view.)

  23. MoHoHawaii, having seen that point, the universe now makes sense again.

  24. MikeInWeHo says:

    Ryan, don’t get your Abercrombie boxer-briefs in a bunch. I don’t know who invited you here but you’re a jerk. The people on this blog are decent, wonderful people who have treated me (an out WeHo gay man) with kindness and acceptance for years. You don’t know anything about them, so don’t start name calling.

    Take your shrill, incoherent rant back to the editorial page at WeHo news. At least nobody will see it there.

  25. MikeInWeHo says:

    Gosh, I feel so good now. Is that what it’s like to be Steve Evans?

  26. I think so, Mike. Except you’re better-looking.

  27. Kristine, it’s not a contest!

  28. That’s for sure. :P

  29. Latter-day Guy says:

    …so I think I’ll make a stab at answering your questions (so ong [sic] as they are not rhetorical).

    Fail to comprehend sarcasm much, Ryan?

  30. “Fail to comprehend sarcasm much, Ryan?”
    Well, Latter-day Gay –
    I do comprehend derision, dismissal and other rhetorical means verbal violence.
    You folks with the magic underpants are masters of the disrepsectful attack.
    Furthermore, Mr. Latter-Day GAY, I do not hide behind a nom de plume out of fear.
    I provided my phone number and E mail to invite RESPECTFUL dialogue.
    It should have been obvious to me that the fool writing this blog would be unwelcoming to dignified, decent exchanges.
    That he gets his basic FACTS wrong and bases his idiotic questions on the mis-perceptions shows just how the willfully ignorant – THOSE SO WRAPPED UP IN BELIEF SYSTEMS SUCH AS RELIGION – cannot face reality.
    Ryan Gierach, editor, WeHo News – 323-650-2879
    Do any of you care to go toe-to-toe on this subject, or do you all prefer the child’s game of taunts annd bullying?

  31. MikeInWeHo –
    Precisely whom did I call a name? Where in the world do you get the idea that I wear Abercrombie briefs? And if that isn’t a (lame) attempt at a slam (in response to a reasoned and dispassionate debunking), what is?
    You demonstrate an inability to comprehend what you read.
    Because of that, the rest of your screed makes no more sense than the charge that I called names (in my first port – I left that for the second, and third).
    MikeInWeHo, you are stupid, ill-educated and even worse, an out gay mormon.

  32. Ryan,

    I’m afraid you’ve really misunderstood this post. You might want to spend a few minutes looking around at this site instead of throwing out generic anti-Mormon insults. Believe it or not, several of the Mormons who post here regularly get attacked by more conservative Mormons for their defense of gay rights. The monolithic anti-gay sentiment you’re railing against doesn’t exist here.

    To give you some time to familiarize yourself with the site so that your participation will be more appropriate, I’m putting your comments in moderation, until they’re, well, moderate.

  33. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Why moderate? Wouldn’t it be better to introduce Ryan to the blog with persuasion and love unfeigned rather than giving an eye for an eye? This post is truly best read from an insider’s perspective, and moderating a new reader because he is not an insider, well, you can do that because of administrative rights, but is it necessary?

  34. Rigel, I’ve sent a private note to Ryan, with helpful links. Maybe he’ll want to guest post when he finishes reading. But holding his comments in moderation is not really an eye for an eye; it’s not meant as an insult, just a way to keep the discussion from getting completely derailed.

  35. Steve Evans says:

    Rigel, when you run your own blog feel free to quarterback the admin.

  36. MikeInWeHo says:

    My bad. I took the bait and should have worded comment #24 a bit less provocatively last evening. It’s so hard to resist the temptation to lash back.

  37. Maybe, Mike, but you’ve sure given me some awesome snark to adapt to the use of my journalist friends.

  38. Cynthia L. says:

    Mike, day-after guilt is also part of the Steve Evans experience. Welcome!

  39. MikeInWeHo says:

    It’s scary how easily the snark travels from my brain to my fingers and onto the screen. The natural Mike is an enemy to Blog.

  40. Cynthia L. says:

    I for one am glad Ryan stopped by, if only because clicking through to his site informed me that MMA Pro Daniel Puder has taken a stand against bullying of gay teens. An MMA fighter can reach audiences other anti-bullying messengers might have a harder time reaching. Way to be a leader, Daniel Puder!

    Ryan, seriously, putting “respectful dialogue” in all caps is some awesome irony. Well done.

  41. Yeah, West Hollywood was in my mission… As I read this post I can’t believe how much I have changed since then.

    I remember as a missionary I had the exact same expectation that you described first. But I felt justified by embracing the stereotype since everytime we tryed to get our investigators to the visitors center at the LA Temple (just west of West Hollywood), I remember how distressed I got when we drove through West Hollywood and then into Beverly Hills and Santa Monica at the sight of huge panoramic banners with gay dating sites (featuring two shirtless men embracing) and Calvin Klein underwear featuring male models clad in nothing but, well, bulging Calvins of course.

    Oh I was so scandalized, which was strange since I have no hangups at all about the human body, either male or female. I am a narcissistic bodybuilder and was raised in a secular home where nudity is not big deal at all. But I was there, a Mormon missionary, and as such I had to play that role. I was “disgusted” by it all. I just didn’t get it.

    Thankfully, after having many heart felt conversations with gay people, and having several gay friends and being able to listen (really listen) not just judge, now I know how immature I was. Ironically, I think I have grown to be extremely gay friendly and lean extremely to the left (politically) thanks to my mission. I was able to truly understand many things I didn’t before, and had I not gone on a mission there, I probably would not be able to understand even to this day.

    I like West Hollywood. Everytime I go back to LA, I have to drive by on my way to the Santa Monica pier and wave at the people.

    When I hear harsh or unreasonable homophobic rhetoric around me, I just have to remember how limited points of view can be when all we know about something is what we have heard about it and be thankful for my experience.

  42. “The natural Mike is an enemy to Blog.”

    Mark it, Brother Ziff. We’ll want to refer to this when Mike gets his Lifetime Achievement Niblet.

  43. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I enjoyed reading the post and understand Kristine’s point. The style of sarcastic new observer finding a counter to stereotype has it’s risks, however. Imagine if someone wrote a piece about a visit to a Native American reservation and then listed all the stereotypes that they might expect to see (even if in jest), then rebuffs a Native American journalist who expressed indignation at the use of stereotypes.

  44. Rigel, agreed that the ironic posture of the post is hard to understand at first. But Ryan came out swinging, and sincere attempts at private communication were met with more rudeness and hostility.

    There’s a fair critique to be made of the way that comments sometimes get moderated by ridicule at BCC; Ryan just isn’t the poster child you want for that cause.

  45. Mark Brown says:

    It should have been obvious to me that the fool writing this blog would be unwelcoming to dignified, decent exchanges.

    That is so deliciously good. I grant permission to anybody to use that statement freely whenever they want to decry the failure of the schools to teach basic, third-grade level reading comprehension.

  46. Mommie Dearest says:

    It might be edifying for Ryan Gierach and his colleagues to be aware that, because of some things I’ve read here at BCC since last general conference, my attitude toward gay people in the church (and in general) has done some major shifting. A harsh screed like his #20 didn’t help me change at all, the only effect it had on me was quite similar to Mike’s …um, natural reaction in #24. In fact, I nearly took it upon myself to correct Gierach, but I knew somebody would do a better job than me. And I was right.

    You wanna know what had the most effect on my lingering questions? David Eccles Hardy’s letter which was linked to comment 109 in Kristines post “What I Wish I Had Said.” There was a great deal of food for thought there that helped me to understand exactly why and how President Packer’s remarks cut people so deeply.

    Much more helpful than being told that I lack the decency which I lack.

    May I link Brother Hardy’s letter here?
    http://www.lds-mormon.com/hardy.shtml

  47. Observations... (formerly k.a. Eric S.) says:

    31 – Ryan – You led with taking offense to wearing ‘Abercrombie’ brand briefs. You interpreted that suggestion as “lame” and a “slam.” Because you led with it, should I assume that this was the most offensive thing MikeInWeHo wrote?

  48. Guys, Ryan’s in the mod queue, so he can’t defend himself. Let’s all move along, please.

  49. Re: the original post. I think part of the reason the Jews that you observed can so peacefully co-exist side by side with the gays in We-Ho might be somewhat due to the fact that they do not have the following two creeds:

    [B]e in the world, but not of the world.

    and

    Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    I’m not saying its impossible to live by those two standards simultaneously, but I think that a natural byproduct of trying to do so is often trying to change (by legal routes instead of spiritual routes) the mores and standards of the society in which we live. If we can’t convert them, then lets just legally restrict them, and that will be almost as good.

  50. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 46
    That letter is fantastic, Mommie Dearest. Thanks for linking to it.

    re: 49
    You have a point, B. Russ.

  51. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I saw the large group of orthodox Jewish men walking to synagogue on Beverly Blvd once and I was surprised. It was really cool and I wanted to know more. A Jewish co-worker explained a bit of it to me. I didn’t get the nuance at that time that MoHoHawaii explained, ‘Gentiles, whether they be Methodists or secular homosexuals, are simply outside their scope of interest.’

    it reminds me of Puddy’s lack of interest in Elaine’s salvation in the Seinfeld series…

  52. One major difference is that there are only about 400,000 Orthodox Jews in the US, as opposed to 4 Million or so active Mormons. (going with 40% activity). Also, we have centralized authority and economics in our church, which allows us to have a bigger microphone.

    Judaism definitely has it’s “Yehareg ve’al ya’avor” (Let him be killed rather than break these commandments), and sex immorality is one of the three. (Funny you brought this up because I was thinking of doing a post on the correlation between Alma’s Sin next to murder and denying the holy ghost, since they so closely match up) While some branches of Judaism have different definitions of sex immorality, I believe Orthodox Judaism includes homosexual acts in its definition.

  53. Mommie Dearest, that letter you linked to certainly leaves food for thought.

  54. Cynthia L. says:

    Mommie, thanks for calling attention to that letter again. Like you I read it for the first time because of the link in the other thread, and I can’t get it out of my mind.

  55. Interesting–just as the Hasidim don’t recognize distinctions between any gentiles, be they gay or just Episcopalian, a West Hollywood community newspaper editor doesn’t recognize any distinctions between Mormons, be he MikeInWeHo or Adam Greenwood.

  56. My wife and I were there that night with you and MikeInWeHo. Along with noting the Hassidic acceptance/disinterest in their neighboring homosexuals, it may interest this group to add the context of that evening: we ate in the restaurant from which homosexuals hounded a manager out of her job for donating $100 in support of Prop 8.

  57. “from which homosexuals hounded a manager out of her job ”

    broad brush much? That’s kind of like saying that Jews killed Jesus. Maybe try “a small group of gay rights activists.”

    It’s important.

  58. Well said, Kristine. I fear many of the “broad brushes” being waved around lately are more reminiscent of a Light Saber. :)

  59. Mark Brown says:

    manaen, I think it is also important for people to know that when we were there she was back on the job and personally served us with a smile and that business was thriving. There was a temporary backlash, but the situation worked itself out. She has gotten over it, it ill-behooves any of the rest of us to nurse our petty grudges on her behalf.

  60. 57.
    “small group”??? Did you miss the “small group” of activists that dominated coverage in LA & NY Times, internet coverage, blogs, etc. Are you aware of any comments from that community in her favor? Did you see the vitriol posted under the videos in homosexual ecolumns of her apology to them, at a free lunch in the restaurant? In what way was this the work of a small group?

  61. 59.
    Mark, yes back on the job after 6 months of hell and having her name published around the world as an unreasoning bigot because of a $100 donation. I talked with her several times while she was kept away from her job (my wife was in her ward before we married); it was agony for her and for her family to have people she’d loved and served for many years turn on her and demand her removal. The situation has passed, but she knows what people she’d supposed were friends did. That they stopped doing it doesn’t mean they didn’t do it.

    FYI, when we ate there during the assaults before she left, she also served customers with a smile — that’s what professionals do — but when she sat with me and my wife on break, she opened up about the stress she felt. Be careful about reading what you want to see into a person’s smile.

    There was a temporary backlash, but the situation worked itself out. She has gotten over it, it ill-behooves any of the rest of us to nurse our petty grudges on her behalf.
    I like this, now it will be easy to explain the priesthood restriction: “There was a temporary restriction, but the situation worked itself out, so get over it, it ill-behooves anyone to nurse petty grudges about it.”

    it ill-behooves any of the rest of us to nurse our petty grudges on her behalf.
    I agree, but hadn’t supposed you were doing that. As for me, I was noting for the current readers the LDS context of us meeting in that particular restaurant instead of any other in LA. I don’t hold a grudge, I don’t believe MC does either, and I’m not going to deny what happened when discussing the historical context of where we met for dinner.

  62. MikeInWeHo says:

    I was in the area throughout the whole ordeal and it was awful, but as Mark pointed out it passed and everything is back to normal now. There was a mob of angry young people who were not regular customers of the restaurant, all organized online. They had to call in the riot police one night.

    It would also be fair to note that there were many regular gay customers of El Coyote who were horrified by the melee and disgusted by how Margie Christoffersen was treated. Some reached out to her with cards, etc, afterward.

    That said, I think you’re right manaen that the outcry nationally was widespread and very angry. It’s clear that the generation following me is not going to quietly sit back in these political battles. There has definitely been a shift; I can see it. Most here probably don’t remember ACT-UP (“Silence = Death”) back in the mid-80s, but it hearkens back to that.

    If the Church becomes perceived as the standard-bearer for anti-gay political activism, this kind of situation will surely recur. I don’t see that happening, though. The Prop 8 brouhaha may have marked the low point. It’s just ridiculous that two subcultures as historically persecuted as Mormons and gays cannot live side-by-side as friends, just like Jews and gays already do.

  63. “In what way was this the work of a small group?”

    To continue Kristine’s analogy above, I’m sure the (Jewish) mob saying “Give us Barabbas!” was pretty big too. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s stupid and inflammatory to keep protesting that “the Jews killed Jesus!” long after tempers have cooled.

  64. Thanks, Kenji.

    Even a quite large group of protestors is a tiny fraction of the gay people in the US, and unlikely to be representative. It’s sloppy and unfair to say “the gays” did something, just as it is sloppy and unfair to say “the Mormons” are all homophobes.

  65. “Are you aware of any comments from that community in her favor? ”

    Yes, including Mike’s right here on this blog.

  66. 64.
    So, when people go to the Holy Land and visit Golgotha, are they being stupid and inflammatory to note that’s where Christ was crucified? Should they just say they went to look at a hill in Israel instead?

    As I explained, I was noting the LDS context of the restaurant in which we met.

    (BTW, in what way is “stupid and inflammatory” not inflammatory?)

  67. 66.
    One comment, noted.

  68. 63.
    Mike, thx for your observations. I didn’t see your 63 until after I posted 68.

  69. manaen, I was not objecting to your mention of the place, but to your imprecise description of the perpetrators of the harassment. It is poor form to blame an entire group for the actions of some of its members. That is all.

  70. “So, when people go to the Holy Land and visit Golgotha, are they being stupid and inflammatory to note that’s where Christ was crucified? Should they just say they went to look at a hill in Israel instead?”

    Don’t be silly. Read back; no one is objecting to your recounting what happened to Margie. In the very first post following yours, Kristine just noted that qualifying “homosexuals” as “some homosexuals” or “gay activists” or something would have solved your problem of tone.

    “(BTW, in what way is “stupid and inflammatory” not inflammatory?)”

    Aha, there you have me. :)

  71. Kristine,
    You’re the only one equating manaen’s “homosexuals” with “all homosexuals” or even “lots of homosexuals” here. He didn’t use any qualifier whatsoever. It’s obvious to anyone reading the comment that he was not implicating more people than those people who did precisely what he said they did.

  72. In other words, his description was not imprecise in any way. It wasn’t, perhaps, the description you’d use, but to call it imprecise or to ascribe the level of scrutiny you are is crazy.

  73. It was imprecise. What was happening was, in fact, a political protest. (A nasty, stupid, ill-advised protest, to be sure). People were demonstrating against Proposition 8–their sexuality is completely irrelevant, and, in fact, there’s no way to know that all of the people involved were homosexual, so it is both factually and logically incorrect to say “homosexuals did x”.

  74. Whatever you say.

  75. Scott, I don’t mind arguing the point, if you’ve got a rebuttal. I promise not to mod you ;)

  76. Kristine,
    Until this moment in time, I have never heard anyone dispute the claim that the protest was put on by the gay community. This is not really a fact in dispute, and the idea that some hetero people were also involved does not change the origin or organizers of the protest, nor does it render manaen’s claim [whatever you said it was].

    If you would like, I would be happy to scour bcc’s archives for examples all of your past unqualified descriptors, and then make statements about Jews and Jesus until you take them all back or provide unneeded qualifiers for them. Give the guy a break.

  77. I think it matters because we would never say “Heterosexuals protested the new marriage law.” So the very fact that we can say “homosexuals did x” is part and parcel of creating them as a minority, an other. It’s not the same as saying “the gay community” organized the protest, because that’s their own label, and it’s relevant to the political organizing being done.

    And feel free to dig up my rhetorical mistakes–I’m happy to admit that I talk too much and often too thoughtlessly. I generally apologize quickly when corrected, or when I realize I’ve offended. At least I hope I do.

  78. Whatever.

  79. MikeInWeHo says:

    Kristine has a point. For anyone who’s interested: Using the term “homosexuals” when describing members of the gay community comes across as, well, not very polite. I don’t take offense, but many would. One thing is for certain, these days gay people never refer to themselves as homosexuals. Maybe I need to write a post entitled “How To Be Polite To Your Gay Neighbors (If You Had Any).”

  80. fwiw: there was lots of bullying on both sides.

    Just one example– see the letter linked below from the Counsel of ProtectMarriage.com.

    Remember that this was the entity the church encouraged members to donate to directly. And in this letter they say they are writing on behalf of the “coalition of churches” and others who were proponents of Prop 8.

    The letter threatens a boycott of a business because it donated to an anti-Prop 8 organization. The letter even attempted to bullly this business into donating a similar amount to ProtectMarriage.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/7505187/Prop-8-Threat-Letter

    We could go back and forth for days with examples of this type of behavior on both sides. This type of behavior is typical for heated political campaigns. [I'm a political campaign operative. I could give you dozens of first-hand examples from other campaigns.]

  81. I actually prefer to refer to myself as a homosexual because I don’t participate in the Gay community. And its accurate.

    Why is ‘homosexual’ offensive? Its like saying someone from Texas is an American. They’re both a Texan and an American.

  82. Cynthia L. says:

    Kristine, your reaction does seem disproportionate to the offense in this case.

    Manean, saying that MC felt her customers turned on her is interesting. Don’t you think that some (justifiably) felt she had turned on them?

    That’s what happens in a war: friends and family turned against each other, new enemies made, battle lines drawn, casualties, friendly fire, the whole bit. That’s what you sign up for when you go to war. That’s why going to war is generally a really, really, really bad idea.

  83. It’s like that great joke about the one Jew on the School Board in 1950′s Georgia. He wants to vote to allow integration. The other member’s protest, “But Mr Goldberg, think of the repercussions! What if your own daughter was to date a Negro? It could happen if we allow this to pass.” Mr Goldberg looks shocked and says, “Gentleman, what does it matter? I would never allow my daughter to marry any of you Goyim!”
    Ha.
    I think that us/them mentality is reinforced by the Hasidic principal of maintaining the faith matrilineally/hereditarily and the LDS principal of proselytizing. I think the LDS can’t afford to think in terms of “so what? Their ways are not ours- live and let live,” because the idea exists, “how can I make our ways their ways?”
    AND I read the Manean comment the same way Kristine did. It may just be sensitivity to living in a very conservative community in Wyoming and hearing the phrase, “the gays did x” that makes a difference in how I hear it.

  84. CWC,
    You’re not reading closely, then. If manaen had said “the [gay]s” then I would understand. But he didn’t. He said “[gays]“. There is a world of difference between an accurate (sorry Kristine), non-quantified descriptor and a derogatory descriptor like “the [gays]” as manaen used it.

  85. In SOME ways– places like WeHo (and San Fransisco, Chicago’s North Halsted, NYC’s Chelsea, etc.) are to gays what Salt Lake City is to Mormons. Gay people who have been persecuted migrate to these “safe places” where they feel they can “be themselves”. It might help to keep that in mind when analyzing the reactions of gay people in these neighborhoods post-prop 8… I’m not defending it in all cases, but it is easily understood.

    Real people suffered real consequences because of prop 8. Your gay brothers and sisters lost the right to get married. That’s a big deal. Their consequences were at least equal to that of losing a job…

    If you really believe that the very foundations of family and society rested on passage of prop 8, shouldn’t you be willing to lose a job (or anything else) to protect it?

    These aren’t prop 8 examples, but consider a few other examples of people being hounded out of jobs:

    -members of the church hounded a lesbian Utah teacher out of her (public sector) job because of her sexual orientation. [Weaver v Nebo School Distict]

    -the church led the fight to “hound” gay scoutmasters out of the boyscouts. [Dale v. Boyscouts of America]

    -gay members of our armed forces are (*absent the temporary state of legal limbo) “hounded out” of their jobs every single day.

    -back when the church ownded a gym in Salt Lake, they “hounded a man out of a job” because he didn’t keep his temple recommend. (Mind you, he was a janitor at a gym…) The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints et al v. Amos et al]

    -gay men and women were banned from serving in any capacity in the federal government.

  86. FWIW, I agree with Kristine. And you’re being a douchebag Scott.

  87. MCQ,
    You’re such a class act.

  88. 84 Nope. Either way it stands out to me. Again, it may be the associations I have with statements that begin, “the gays,” or “gays did x” but I think that makes a difference. I remember our journalism teacher in high school teaching us that you couldn’t be sued for libel in San Francisco for calling someone gay because libel was predicated on community standards and it was so sin to be queer in the Bay. So, it may be rather tremulous ground we are treading (I am always fearful of people couching their statements with phrase like, “what I am hearing you say is…” as though my auditory capabilities were in question) but why should that stop us? As long as gays are the demonized other, that’s what I hear when people invoke, “Gays did x” OR “The gays did x.” Except for obviously true statements like, “The gays ruined the word fierce.” Seriously, how can a word that used to conjure William Blake for me have become so banal? Those gays!

  89. MikeInWeHo says:

    It’s not terribly offensive, Neal, just anachronistic. The word is not in contemporary use by members of the gay community, and it’s even becoming uncommon in the clinical literature. I’d compare it to using the term Negro instead of Black or African American.

  90. Eric Russell says:

    I believe Scott is correct. By itself, the statement, “Mormons and Indians massacred a group of emigrants from Arkansas in 1857” is not implicating the whole – or even the majority – of Mormons or Indians in the event. It’s simply adding detail that may be of relevance or interest to a statement about the event. Unless the context of the sentence is making broader claim about Mormons or Indians as a whole, qualifying that the act was actually done by a small group of Mormons and Indians is entirely unnecessary. Or unless, perhaps, your primary audience were children.

    In any case, what’s clear is that BCC needs more posts on contemporary standard American English usage.

  91. Other things we can’t say:

    “Gays favor the legalization of gay marriage.”
    “Gays oppose having others vote away their civil rights.”
    “Mormons practiced polygamy during the 1800′s”.
    “Mormons attended General Conference in SLC two weeks ago.”

    Without qualifiers, all of those statements (apparently) are ” factually and logically incorrect” right?

  92. Had manaen said “gays” we would be having a different discussion. Or none at all.

  93. No we wouldn’t, Kristine, because that’s not what you took him to task over. (As a reminder: you took him to task over not having a qualifier expressly used before “homosexuals” (as you later explained because of the sub-group/population differences).

  94. btw, I agree with many above that manaen’s choice of “homosexuals” as a noun was a poor choice of words. I’m not fighting that fight. I am just fighting the fight that was brought to him: that he needs a qualifier to specify *which* homosexuals he was talking about.

  95. Not my fault, Scott. Sometimes, the truth just don’t sound classy.

  96. A photo would do the trick. Then he could just post the photo and say “these here homosexuals” with an arrow pointing to the photo.

  97. Just a suggestion.

  98. Or he could describe their clothing. As in “the homosexuals dressed like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”

    Or he could describe their location. As in “homosexuals on my left.”

    That could be either a location or a political position, so it’s flexible.

  99. Steve Evans says:

    or, if the shot is far enough away, he could say “them thar” instead.

  100. An excellent suggestion, Steve.

  101. I hope this is helping.

  102. Cynthia L. says:

    Um, so, yeah. The original post.

    What a great night. It was so touching to see all those observant Jews gathering by foot. A heightened sense of community that is lost, I think, in our distant, car-based culture.

  103. Scott, I completely agree with you. Kristine is wrong, the past should not be whitewashed out of existence by political correctness. In fact, since your words bear repeating, I will so do in solidarity, changing only enough to avoid the charge of plagiarism:

    “Until this moment in time, I have never heard anyone except NOM dispute the claim that the protest Prop. 8 was put on by the gay community almost completely underwritten and led by the LDS Church. This is not really a fact in dispute, and the idea that some hetero people non-Mormons were also involved does not change the origin or organizers of the protest….”

    Just wondering if it’s time we all stopped picking at the scab and let the wound heal without too much scarring?

  104. Dan,
    Certainly you remember my own words?

  105. “Pretty Woman”

    According to the Chicago Manual of Style that should be Pretty Woman.

    I hope this helps.

  106. If one doesn’t have access to italics, quotes are an acceptable substitute. So there. You and your fancy HTML code.

  107. Cynthia L. says:

    Tsk, tsk, Peter. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, that should be, “According to the Chicago Manual of Style that should be….”

  108. Peter LLC says:

    Thanks, Cynthia. That was indeed helpful. 8)

  109. Peter LLC says:

    If one doesn’t have access to italics, quotes are an acceptable substitute.

    Which brings up an important point: BCC’s software change a while back was definitely not helpful.

  110. Yeah, but it was cheaper, Pete.

  111. After watching the Monty Python clip above I realize that Scott B. came here looking for an argument but he walked into the room with MCW, which was reserved for abuse.

    OR – maybe Scott B. didn’t realize that the blogs in effect serve both purposes simultaneously.

  112. er, MCQ (not MCW).

  113. wow…this is fun. So jews and amish basically look alike-who can really tell. We now say Gay instead of homosexual..even if you are gay and choose to go by the name homosexual..that’s not enlightened.

    I think the real problem with the “homosexuals did this” wasn’t the word choice…it was that we aren’t talking about 4 Mormons committing suicide in the last few weeks because of bullying. does it happen..probably. Was some of the protesting over the top…sure. Were some people on both sides nuts…yes. BUT there are very few places in which you would fear to send your Mormon child to school and tell people she is mormon

    How can we better share the message of the statement by the PR department and weed out any tendancies towards violence-especially among our own?

    When we will stop assuming we know WHY a revelation is given?-assuming you think any part of the decision to fight same sex marriage is revelation (blacks don’t have the priesthood BECAUSE…. we are fighting against gay marriage because….) I find the reasons we assume are MUCH worse than the revelation itself . (Blacks not having priesthoo=probematic…saying its’ because they were less valiant=nuclear) Does it happen when we study things out in our minds and pray for them..that if we don’t get a direct answer we assume? I don’t know…

    I’m glad for the in but not of the world concept. I recognize that it is VERY problematic, but it is also very interesting. The world is an amazing place. I’m glad awe aren’t so insular…so how do we not be caustic?

  114. is peculiar but not caustic a reasonable motto?

  115. Mark Brown says:

    manaen, my objection to your comment # 56 was that you didn’t include the rather significant detail that MC was now back on the job. Somebody just reading your comment wouldn’t know the rest of the story.

    Scott, by your logic, it correct to say that Mormons live in Colorado City, AZ and practice polygamy. That statement is technically accurate but nonetheless misleading.

  116. John Mansfield says:

    These comments have touched on something I’ve wondered about that those in California noticing such things may be able to respond to. The significant response to the above mentioned restaurant manager over a $100 donation seemed indicative of a lack of sufficiently vulnerable targets. What could activists do to Alan Ashton, after all, that would make him regret matching Bruce Bastian’s million dollar anti-8 donation with a million dollar pro-8 donation of his own?

    Terry Caster, owner of A-1 Self Storage, donated on the order of half a million dollars to the pro-8 campaign, so the boycott that was called against his company seemed like a reasonable response by anti-8 activists, far more than protests about someone who sent $100 or $1,000. But did the boycott have any effect? When Caster checked A-1′s quarterly revenues, could he tell that there had been a boycott against it? Or were people in the theater or film industry, or otherwise unusually exposed to homosexual co-workers and customers, the only ones to whom such pressure could be applied with any effect?

  117. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: britt k

    Why don’t you see how the Jews and Amish do it, britt k? For starters, they don’t pick fights in the political arena with other minority groups. Mormons don’t agree with gay marriage. So be it. If you’re an LDS guy and think gay marriage is sinful, uh, don’t marry another dude…..and stop. From the outside perspective, Mormons battling gay marriage makes about as much sense as the Amish trying to ban cars. It’s intrinsically hostile.

    Given how the leadership currently sees things (“If the gays marry, society is as doomed as doomed can be!!!”), I don’t see how you can improve Mormon/Gay relations very much. Most gays aren’t as thick-skinned as me.

  118. Mark,
    It’s only misleading to people who have no concept of context or the issue in question. Since this thread houses none of those people, it is not misleading.

    Also, the idea that MC being back at work is the problem is plainly not true. Go back and read the comment from Kristine which started this all, and you’ll see that MC’s employment status has zilch to do with this conversation.

  119. Additionally, the only reason your statement about Colorado City is misleading is that there is an entire group of people called Mormons who dispute the application of that title to the very people it is being applied to–polygamists. As far as I am aware, there is no large group of gays disputing the homosexuality of the gays who put on the boycott.

  120. Mike..thanks for responding. Do you think there is no way to civily disagree? I can still understand anger, frustration and boycotting..but can we as Mormons be more civil while holding our beliefs? I can see why that might not change the way gays feel, but what if it made for a less hostile environment for children coming out? Is there a way to be against gay marriage an discourage violence an possibly reuce it?

    Do most GA’s really think that “If the gays marry, society is as doomed as doomed can be!!!” ? Is that an assumption just like the less valiant thing?

  121. reduce…sigh

  122. MikeInWeHo says:

    Hey Britt,

    Agreeing to disagree is almost impossible when one party attempts to impose its views on the other via the political process. If Mormons treated gay marriage the way they treat drinking coffee, there would be no problem.

    And yes, despite my silly language I do think most GA’s believe that gay couples pose a threat to society. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is consistently quoted by the leadership to justify anti-gay legal activities. I don’t see any ambiguity in the message coming from SLC: Accepting and protecting gay families as valid members of society “will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

    I think it’s possible for Mormons to be against gay marriage without it creating a hostile environment toward gays. I don’t think it’s possible for Mormons to attempt to impose this view on everybody else without creating hostility and and tremendous push-back from the gay community and its friends.

    The situation might have been different, but it’s not as if the story of Mormon hostility toward gays began with the gay marriage debate. There’s so much more history than that. Sodomy laws, aversion treatments at BYU, blanket excommunications, shattered families, destructive reparative therapies…..it just goes on and on. From a gay person’s perspective, it really is a litany of horrors.

  123. Bravo, Mike. Before your latest comment, I actually had lost the point of this post. Is the thesis that some LDS stepped foot into WeHo, did not see actually buggery on the street, and have declared it a blissful and godlike place to live?

    There are saints (and Saints) living in WeHo, like our good Mike. There are also drug addicts, prostitutes, and runaways. There is a large number of bars where alcohol is consumed and sex is contemplated. There is the glorious Pacific Design Center and also a leather sex toy store. Mark, if you are looking for unspeakable depravity in WeHo, you will find it, especially in the drink prices as the Abbey.

    None of the above statements is anecdotal, and it is tricky to find the moral. Look closer: The runaways probably did not “run away”, they were chased away. They had to sell their body, then then numbed the pain of being rejected with drugs. The sex store probably mostly sells to older (~30ish year old) (at-the-moment faithful) couples to help a lackluster sex life so that they whom others have been defined as mere sex delivery devices do not themselves lose a boyfriend trained by his previous boyfriends’ infidelities. The bars are there to make money, and gay men need(ed?) them pre-internet to meet each other, but they in turn exact their revenge by nursing their happy-hour specials well in to the night. There is an elaborate dynamic in the city, but it has little to do with gay sub- and exurbia. Do not go to Disneyland and think you understand how Americans live.

    Gay urban subculture was born out of pain and hope, in varying measure. Marty and I do not live in WeHo in part frankly because I don’t want strangers feeling comfortable trying to lure my husband away from me (as if they could…)

    Mike, your mileage and mine on WeHo differs substantially, but we may agree on this. There are a lot of people on this list who are looking to compartmentalize (or sanitize) us somehow. I hope the gays on this thread (I see we are not alone) can succeed in thwarting this effort. Gays are wondrously diverse. Thank God.

  124. MikeInWeHo says:

    To tie my last comment in the with original post: Maybe the reason that Jews and Gays do well as neighbors is because both groups demonstrate a live-and-let-live attitude toward The Other in society. I’m spending this very day working with a devout Orthodox Jewish nurse whose views on family and sexual morality are probably very close to LDS views. Yet she let me know that she was against Prop 8 because in her words “What business of mine is it who you marry? That’s between you and God!” And then she laughed and smiled.

    The situation will improve when Mormons behave more like her toward their gay and lesbian neighbors.

  125. We’re done here.

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