The piece, written by Mary Frances Forrester, the wife of Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston County), was published Feb. 29, but it took me quite a bit of time to sift through information on some of the topics she addressed. I was going to make a rebuttal to Mrs. Forrester’s op-ed the focus of my next Q-Notes editorial, but repeated attempts to contact Mrs. Forrester failed. Because I could never get in touch with her to get a list of sources she used in constructing her op-ed, I didn’t feel comfortable writing on it for the paper.
Her piece begins with an excerpt from the Feb. 15, 1987 issue of the now-defunct Gay Community News (Forrester inaccurately dates the excerpt to 1986):
We shall sodomize your sons…We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms…in your youth groups…Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding…They will come to crave and adore us. All laws banning homosexual activity will be revoked. Instead legislation shall be passed which engenders love between men. Our writers and artists will make love between men fashionable…We shall raise private armies…to defeat you. The family unit will be abolished. Perfect boys will be conceived and grown in the genetic laboratory…All churches who condemn us will be closed. Our only gods are handsome young men. All males who insist on remaining stupidly heterosexual will be tried in homosexual courts of justice and will become invisible men. Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.
The piece was originally written by Michael Swift, although Mrs. Forrester mistakenly attributes the piece to “Mark Swift.” Unfortunately, there isn’t much information available on Swift’s original intent, save for the plethora of comments on his words from the anti-gay radical right. I contacted friends and colleagues to get more information about the writing.
I was eventually able to get hold of the original text. Mrs. Forrester conveniently leaves off the beginning of Swift’s original piece:
This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.
Outré — defined as “violating convention or propriety.”
The best use of outré in this instance, however, is found in the word’s French origin: “to go beyond, carry to excess;” also, to exaggerate.
As friends have told me, Swift’s piece is a “tongue-in-cheek with righteous anger reply to the homophobes,” or “very high satire — not humor, exactly, but certainly a piece of extreme and even melodramatic expression of frustration, anger and had-it-ness by the author.”
Further, some have told me they believe “Michael Swift” to be a nom-de-plume. “I believe that the author was riffing on work of Jonathan Swift, thus his choice of last name,” a colleague said.
The answers on why Mrs. Forrester conveniently left out any mention of Swift’s outré or why she inaccurately attributed the piece to another person will unfortunately go unanswered, since she has chosen not to respond to requests for comment and refused to release her sources.
Perhaps her greatest factually inaccurate and intellectually dishonest statements are her use of “statistics” on the lifespan of gay and lesbian people. She writes:
Did you know that the average life span of a homosexual is 39 years as opposed to 78 for heterosexual women and 76 for heterosexual men?
What the great senator’s wife neglects to tell readers is that her statistics come from the debunked and APA-booted “Doctor” Paul Cameron. His lifespan “studies” have been proven to be methodically inaccurate and skewed. But Mrs. Forrester’s intellectual dishonesty doesn’t stop at where she gets her statistics from, or her failure to properly cite them. In her op-ed, Mrs. Forrester actually twists the twisted study from which she received her numbers.
Cameron’s shoddy “study” actually said this:
“Social psychologist Paul Cameron compared over 6,200 obituaries from homosexual magazines and tabloids to a comparable number of obituaries from major American newspapers. He found that while the median age of death of married American males was 75, for sexually active homo-sexual American males it was 42. For homosexual males infected with the AIDS virus, it was 39. While 80 percent of married American men lived to 65 or older, less than two percent of the homosexual men covered in the survey lived as long.” (Claremont Institute)
Mrs. Forrester completely skips past Cameron’s stated lifespan of homosexuals, going straight to the “lifespan” of gay men with AIDS, the lowest numerical figure in the “study” (read: most likely to elicit the strongest, anti-gay emotion).
Obituaries in gay community newspapers do not provide a representative sampling of the community. This is evident in the fact that only only 2% of the Cameron group’s obituaries were for lesbians. Moreover, community newspapers tend overwhelmingly to report deaths due to AIDS (only 11% of Cameron’s gay male obituaries were not related to AIDS). In addition, community newspapers tend not to print obituaries for people who are not actively involved in the local gay community, those who are in the closet, and those whose loved ones simply don’t submit an obituary to a local gay newspaper.
The Cameron group’s gay obituary study reports many numbers and statistics. However, they are absolutely worthless for estimating the life expectancy of gay men and lesbians.
Aside from her dishonest use of Cameron’s studies, Mrs. Forrester’s final factually inaccurate statement is perhaps among some of the most quoted rhetorical lines from the radical right. She writes:
Read your social history and you will find that most societies that condoned homosexual behavior did not survive past one generation.
Her claim smacks of ignorance. In fact, I’m quite embarrassed the comment was made by the wife of a state senator (from my own state, no less). Why does she get to represent the outcome of the Old North State’s educational system?
Rome and Greece both came to accept same-sex sexual relations in some way or another. Both empires survived for centuries afterwards. If there is anyone who does need to read her social history, it might very well be Mrs. Forrester.
Rome and Greece didn’t fall because of the presence of homosexuality. Like all large empires, Rome and Greece saw their time come and go, and then fade into the pages of history. England, Spain, France and other European nations have seen their empires rise and fall in history’s continual ebb and flow of the ages. America will do the same, and after our empire falls, another will surely rise to take our place. This is the nature of human history, and it has nothing to do with homosexuality.
I’m not surprised Mrs. Forrester used factually inaccurate information to pen her piece for the Christian Action League — after all, the radical Right is famous for their twisting of facts and figures. I am disappointed, though. Far too often the Right uses distortions, lies and exaggerations to bully their way into people’s emotions. For some reason or another, I think I would have expected better from the wife of a North Carolina legislator. If there is one thing North Carolinians don’t like, it is state leaders who use corruption and lies to grapple for power and influence.
Unfortunately, I doubt she cares what I think and I know her husband doesn’t. I guess nothing — not even lowering themselves by using distortions and lies — gets in the way of their agenda.
Note: Mary Frances Forrester is the former director of Concerned Women for America of North Carolina. She currently serves as their legislative liaison and media coordinator.