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Margaret Cho Headshot

Michelle Shocked Me

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Well, Michelle Shocked, I am actually totally shocked. What the hell? It's freaky to me, the whole business of going from a queer icon to someone who would actually say that God hates us. When the shock wore off, I found that people were super angry, but I just got scared. I think that as a queer person of color, I have been scared my entire life. I get over it bit by bit, enough to get by and live, but then something like this happens, and it's like getting gay bashed all over again.

When people say that God hates fags, there's this idea that it's OK to kill us, that it doesn't matter if we die, because if God -- the supposedly loving force in the world, the one who is supposed to love everyone and everything, the one, the only, whatever, whenever -- hates us, then how are we to exist? But if he hates us, why did he make so many of us?

When someone like Michelle Shocked, formerly a beloved, alt queer muse and maker of the '90s, decides that it is OK to hate us and lets us know that God does too, I am truly sickened, as she of all people should know what this means.

I made many mixtapes with that song "Anchorage," which I always regarded as a lesbian anthem. It was the song playing on the eight-track cassette converter in the big, old, gas-guzzling behemoth of a Buick that I used to peel out of a dirt parking lot behind a country roadhouse, with tall corn and grass on all sides, to get away from a scary dude who had suddenly appeared out of the dark shadows of the cornfield, wielding nunchucks -- or it might have been a belt with a heavy buckle, or maybe a tire iron. Fear clouds my memory, because when you are just a teenager and are being chased in the middle of the night by a crazy man calling you and your girlfriend "fucking dykes" while whipping something around, knocking the "ick" off the "Buick" on the back of your car, it's hard to pay attention to precisely what is in his hands, because you are not looking at him; you are looking to get away. I didn't turn back; I kept going, maybe to keep this girl safe (I might be butch after all), but probably because I was too scared to turn back.

If you ever are terrorized like this, run. Don't look back. Don't be a hero. It's not like the movies. Just get out of there. Hatred and homophobia can never be underestimated. And the effect of someone saying "God hates fags" can never be underestimated either. It's a license to kill. It's a death sentence. It's not funny. It's not OK. It's not something I can let go easily, because I know what it truly means.

The violence and hopelessness behind the statement keeps me up at night and will haunt me just like the tragic memory of a young gay man who was murdered in front of my family's bookstore in the '70s. He was beaten to death because some men (who were never caught, let alone punished) believed that God hated him. In my nightmares I find his teeth all over the ground, and I try to save them, and they keep falling out of my hands and pockets, and then I realize that he is dead and has no use for them anymore, and I wake up sweating, my screams waking everyone in the house.