Provincetown Life Information


Don't hate me because I am straight - The hate bomb in Provincetown


Published: Mon July 17, 2006
By: Straight Dope in Life > Relationships
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Boston.com

By Adrienne P. Samuels, Globe Staff

Town leaders here are holding a public meeting today to air concerns about slurs and bigoted behavior. And this time, they say, it’s gay people who are displaying intolerance.

Police say they logged numerous complaints of straight people being called ``breeders” by gays over the July Fourth holiday weekend. Jamaican workers reported being the target of racial slurs. And a woman was verbally accosted after signing a petition that opposed same-sex marriage, they said.

The town, which prizes its reputation for openness and tolerance, is taking the concerns seriously, though police say they do not consider the incidents hate crimes.

``Hate language is usually the early-warning signal that could lead to hate-motivated violence,” Town Manager Keith Bergman said. ``And before that happens, we try to nip it in the bud.”

Gays have coexisted fairly peacefully alongside other residents in this community on Cape Cod’s tip, home to a long-established Portuguese fishing colony.

Provincetown was recently re-certified for its ``No Place for Hate” designation by the AntiDefamation League, which worked with the town on tolerance issues in the 1990s after gays experienced some problems. But the town’s ``No Place for Hate” group, set up to address incidents of bigotry, hasn’t met in years.

``We have not had problems in a long time,” police Staff Sergeant Warren Tobias said. ``I don’t necessarily view this as a big problem, but it’s certainly a blip on our radar screen.”

Along the main shopping street and the wharf, residents of this 3,400-person town—which swells to some 30,000 over the summer—say tensions are rising in part because of strong feelings about same-sex marriage.

``I’ve been here for eight years, and I think in that time the population has changed a bit and there is a little less tolerance,” said Simply Silver store owner Bill Mitchell, 53, who said he is gay. ``There has been a little more tension.”

Meanwhile, Jamaicans say the intensifying debate over immigration is making racial issues worse.

Winsome Karr, 45, originally from Jamaica, has worked in town since 2002. Lately, she said, the off-color comments stem from gay visitors who mistakenly believe that all Jamaicans share the views of an island religious sect that disagrees with homosexuality.

Karr’s strong accent reveals her Jamaican roots.

``After a while people from here get used to you, and it changes,” said Karr, who works at a Tedeschi Food Shop not far from Commercial Street. ``It’s just because of the image that gay people have of Jamaicans. People—no matter who they are—get defensive of their lifestyle.”

On same-sex marriage, the clashes have occurred as the state Legislature grapples with whether the electorate should vote on a measure to limit marriage to heterosexuals. A group that supports gay marriage, knowthyneighbor, has created a website displaying the names of more than 100,000 signers of a petition that calls for the state Constitution to be amended to prohibit same-sex marriage.

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Comments

On Mon July 17, 2006, Straight Dope wrote:

Do you visit Provincetown?

Do you live in Provincetown?

Do you think that there will be a major anti-Straight and/or anti-immigrant incident in Summer 2006?

Do gays hate Straight people?

On Sat August 05, 2006, Fadi Hamad wrote:

Wow, are heterosexuals really that sensitive?  Someone feels that it’s unacceptable for another person to call her a bigot?  She has the right to her opinion, but free speech works both ways.  She feels that gay marriage is immoral?  Many people feel equally strong t hat her views are bigoted, and therefore immoral.  In other words, someone disagrees with her.  My advice to her:  Deal with it. 

Quite frankly, I have to say the heterosexuals cited in this artical seem like great big whiney titty babies.  They get the smallest taste of what gay people have gone t hru all of their lives, and they’re up in arms.  Surely it cannot be representative of heterosexuals in general.  On second thought, if most straight people don’t feel this way, then why are basic civil rights for gay people an issue to begin with?

I honestly hope the fair-minded heterosexuals out there do not feel defensive because of what I’m saying.  I don’t mean to say all heterosexuals are bigots and I hope they are able to accept the anger that some gay people feel.  Maybe they can even see why it’s justified, and instead of lecturing us they might even think they should play a more active role in bringing about a world where their gay friends, loved-ones, co-workers and neighbors have precisely the same rights and priveledges that heterosexuals have.

If the day comes when heterosexuals cannot marry; when heterosexuals are routinely beaten, humiliated, murdered, disowned by their families; when heterosexuals are drummed out of the military and lose all of their seniority and rights to a pension; when heterosexuals are not allowed to adopt children; when heterosexuals are forced to goodnaturedly accept the fact that they are denied basic civil rights because of who they love; THEN they’d have a reason to complain.

As it stands?  They’re simply miserable whiners.

On Mon August 07, 2006, Straight Dope wrote:

Fadi,

A general comment like “They’re simply miserable whiners.” is an example of the kind of generalization and bias that gays have had to deal with for many years.

So, just by making that statement, you are another example of the growing problem of gays hating “breeders”.

On Wed August 09, 2006, Fadi Hamad wrote:

I’m amazed, because you accuse me of generalization and bias.  You will note that I qualified my statements to state that not all heterosexuals are bigots, and not all are whiners.  Here are a few examples: 

1.  “Quite frankly, I have to say the heterosexuals cited in this artical seem like great big whiney titty babies. “ (Heterosexuals cited in this article DO sound like whiners.  Sorry, but that is my view.  This is not a generalization, and it is not pointing a finger at all heterosexuals.)

2.  “I honestly hope the fair-minded heterosexuals out there do not feel defensive because of what I’m saying. “ (Note:  I awas careful to point out that some heterosexuals are fair minded.)

3.  “I don’t mean to say all heterosexuals are bigots and I hope they are able to accept the anger that some gay people feel. “ (Again, I was careful to point out that not all heterosexuals are bigots.  But, by the way, why can you not understand the anger that gay people feel?  Anger is a perfectly natural response to the bigotry we have faced every day of our life.)

4.  “As it stands?  They’re simply miserable whiners.” (Yes, this was the very last bit of what I posted.  After stating numerous times that not all heterosexuals are bigots, but that many are, and yes, people quoted in this article are in my view whiners.)

You took one little bit of what I had to say, and quoted it completely out of context. 

I wonder why you could not respond by saying something like, “Yes, I share your frustration and anger regarding the way Gay people are treated in our culture. I agree that Heterosexuals who feel persecuted are only getting a very small taste of what gay people experience, and perhaps this experience should help them to empathize with what gay people experience on a much grander scale.”

Oh well, I can dream.

On Thu August 10, 2006, Jesse wrote:

I guess it was also okay that Winsome Karr, a black woman from Jamaica had racial epithets hurled at her.  Were gay people trying to give black people ‘a small taste of what gay people experience every day” as well?  Pathetic.

On Fri August 11, 2006, Fadi Hamad wrote:

I don’t think that hurling a racial epithet is ever okay.  If that happened to her, it’s simply wrong. 

By the way, the story does not state that “racial epithets” were hurled at her.

To refresh your memory, the article states that racial tensions are increasing: “Meanwhile, Jamaicans say the intensifying debate over immigration is making racial issues worse.” To point out the obvious, gay people are not a race.  So, I am assuming they mean racial tensions between Whites and Jamaicans.  You will also note that the story states that the debate over immigration is fueling these tensions.  I don’t think that gay people are any more anti-immigration than any group, by the way.

The article goes on to state:"Winsome Karr, 45, originally from Jamaica, has worked in town since 2002. Lately, she said, the off-color comments stem from gay visitors who mistakenly believe that all Jamaicans share the views of an island religious sect that disagrees with homosexuality.” Note that it says off-color remarks, not racial slurs.  You’ve put words in her mouth. An off-color remark could mean a lot of things. 

You will also note that Winsome Karr states remarks by gay people have been an issue LATELY, despite the fact that she’s been in Provincetown since 2002.  The article indicates that the movement to insure that gay people are not allowed to marry is the backdrop for all of this.

Furthermore, life in Jamaica is a very grim situation for gays and lesbians.  I refer you to a detailed report on this issue by an organization called Human Rights Watch.  It is the largest human rights organization based in the US, and is concerned with the human rights of all people, not just gays and lesbians. 

http://hrw.org/reports/2004/jamaica1104/

If you spend a few minutes skimming over the article, you should quickly get the picture that extreme hatred and violence directed against gay people in Jamaica is not limited to “an island religious sect that disagrees with homosexuality.” Extreme bigotry towards gay people permeates the culture, and it’s not just a matter of people who “disagree with homosexuality.” The title of the report really says it all - “Hated to Death:  Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic.”

I must say this, though.  It’s wrong to assume that someone is prejudiced against gay people just because the person is from Jamaica.  On the other hand, extreme and violent homophobia is obviously a major problem among many Jamaicans.  In the past, many African-Americans would react very negatively towards any White person with a southern accent.  In my view, that wasn’t fair either, but I can understand why.

In addition, the Jamaican woman interviewed seems to understand, to some degree, what causes some gay people to have a negative reaction.  She states: ``After a while people from here get used to you, and it changes,” said Karr, who works at a Tedeschi Food Shop not far from Commercial Street. ``It’s just because of the image that gay people have of Jamaicans. People—no matter who they are—get defensive of their lifestyle.”

I suppose I’d have to also say that there are gay people who are asses, just as there are among any group.  I wouldn’t make a snotty remark to someone because they were Jamaican.  I cannot imagine any of my gay friends doing that. 

I honestly don’t see how anyone could believe that there is a major problem with heterosexuals being persecuted by gays.  For myself, nearly all of my loved ones and family members are heterosexual.  I think it’s the same for the vast majority of gay people.  After all, gays are a minority. 

On occassion, we’re an angry minority, and rightfully so.  I’m sure there are times when that anger is misdirected.  I’m wondering why so many people seem to have a difficult time understanding that.  I only wish more heterosexuals were able to feel angry about the way we’re treated.

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