Please visit Morris Kight

Please visit Morris Kight @

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fagots Stay Out

This is the sign that hung in a neighborhood bar in West Hollywood from the mid-fifties to 1970.  This is how Morris Kight tells the story:

"This sign was a great catalyst for the gay movement.  In spring of 1970 we did a change-in, sit-in, shop in, boycott and picket.  It took all that to persuade [the owner] to surrender us the sign and to never discriminate again in employment or service."

The pickets went on for months and in an unusual twist for the times the LA County Sheriff's were on the side of the demonstrators.  Especially odd since the sign went up in the fifties when the Sheriff's Department warned the owner that his place was picking up "a reputation."

So the the sign came down in 1970 and became a central piece in the Morris Kight Collection.  The new owner of the place (escrow hadn't even closed when the demonstrations began) enjoyed the free publicity that the sign (and the demonstrations) generated that he scrawled out a new fagots stay out sign (questionable spelling and all).  That sign would get taken down and put back up over the years.  At one point, he even had it match books printed.  Finally, West Hollywood incorporated in 1984 and the very first thing the newly elected mayor did was to march into the bar and demand that that sign come down and that discrimination against homosexuals would no longer be tolerated.

Washington D.C., did you hear that?

9/11 12,13,14...

And life goes on. It's different, sure. Those who are eager to pontificate will ask, 'what did we learn?' Well, we learned that there are no weapons of mass destruction--other than our own imaginations. But I'm not certain everyone of us learned that.

Our 9/11 memorializing has turned into "angry protests." We are set upon ourselves. We are determined not to get along. We, human beings, always return to a pattern of isolating a group of individuals for being a certain way. It's a pattern since long before WWII and Nazi Germany. Humans need to hold themselves above other humans. It's odd when you stand back and simply observe the behavior. I recently came across the Dr. Martin Niemeller poem, First they came:

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time, no one was left to speak up.

Dr. Niemeller, a German theologian and a Lutheran pastor, anti-Nazi, wrote that poem sometime around 1955 (there are disputes over the exact time of writing and the exact wording)
years after WWII ended. Today, I'm so sorry to say, we'd have to add a line about Muslims. What we, the collective American bargaining-away-civil-liberties We, are saying is that they--simply because they are Muslim--are not afforded equal opportunity because of who they are. This is race bait. We treat them differently, like bogeymen, simply because they are not like us. There is no proof that the iman or anyone involved with the "Cultural Center," is a terrorist, is associated with terrorist activities, or will harbor and train and provide seven lucky virgins for every terrorist in America.

And there were NO weapons of mass destruction.

People are saying it's an issue of "sensitivity." Yes, sensitive to all races and creeds. It's in the constitution--not in those exact words but certainly in the spirit of "being sensitive."

The owner of the property sited for an Islamic Cultural Center did not accept Trumps offer of 25% over what he paid for it. Yeah, yeah it's trump tooting his horn again but there is some legitimacy to the idea that this is not about money for the Muslim community. Does that make sense to anyone else?

This is about the bigger principles upon which we lean everyday. If this country wants to tout freedom of religion, then we need to exercise tolerance.

What I'd like to see--maybe this could work out--if the Muslim community behind the Cultural Center would extend an area, a space to share all religions. A place where every person who was killed in the Towers that day will be represented through their religion.

And then watch the bigots shout and go at each other.