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“The Overhauling of Straight America” by Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill

“The Overhauling of Straight America” by Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill is an article first published in November 1987 in which the strategy and tactics of desensitizing homosexuality are outlined.


To what extent the two authors have anything to do with its implementation is another matter, but one can make their own observations as to how much of what is outlined has transpired and make their own decisions.


The article is short and concise at about 5,000 words. The first half is the strategy outlined in six sections. The second half discusses the tactics of promoting certain images such as having “the appearance of favorable gay characters in films and TV shows”, utilizing advertising and celebrity support, and portraying gays as victims of discrimination.


There is nothing fundamentally new in such strategy and tactics, which can be used by just about any group.


Below are key paragraphs from the first half.


Under the heading 1. Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible:

The principle behind this advice is simple: almost any behavior begins to look normal if you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances. …
The way to benumb raw sensitivities about homosexuality is to have a lot of people talk a great deal about the subject in a neutral or supportive way. Open and frank talk makes the subject seem less furtive, alien, and sinful, more above-board. …
Would a desensitizing campaign of open and sustained talk about gay issues reach every rabid opponent of homosexuality? … First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency. Second, we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science & Public Opinion (the shield and sword of that accursed “secular humanism”). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion. With enough open talk about the prevalence and acceptability of homosexuality, that alliance can work again here.

Under 2. Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers:

In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector. If gays are presented, instead, as a strong and prideful tribe promoting a rigidly nonconformist and deviant lifestyle, they are more likely to be seen as a public menace that justifies resistance and oppression. …
A media campaign to promote the Gay Victim image should make use of symbols which reduce the mainstream's sense of threat, which lower its guard, and which enhance the plausibility of victimization. In practical terms, this means that jaunty mustachioed musclemen would keep very low profile in gay commercials and other public presentations, while sympathetic figures of nice young people, old people, and attractive women would be featured. (It almost goes without saying that groups on the farthest margin of acceptability such as NAMBLA, must play no part at all in such a campaign: suspected child-molesters will never look like victims.)

Under 3. Give protectors a just cause:

… Few straight women, and even fewer straight men, will want to defend homosexuality boldly as such. Most would rather attach their awakened protective impulse to some principle of justice or law, to some general desire for consistent and fair treatment in society. Our campaign should not demand direct support for homosexual practices, should instead take anti-discrimination as its theme. …

Under 4. Make gays look good:

In order to make a Gay Victim sympathetic to straights you have to portray him as Everyman. But an additional theme of the campaign should be more aggressive and upbeat: … the campaign should paint gays as superior pillars of society. …
The honor roll of prominent gay or bisexual men and women is truly eye popping. From Socrates to Shakespeare, from Alexander the Great to Alexander Hamilton, from Michelangelo to Walt Whitman, from Sappho to Gertrude Stein, the list is old hat to us but shocking news to heterosexual America. …
Along the same lines, we shouldn’t overlook the Celebrity Endorsement. The celebrities can be straight (God bless you, Ed Asner, wherever you are) or gay.

Under 5. Make the victimizers look bad:

At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights-long after other gay ads have become commonplace it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified. (This will be all the more necessary because, by that time, the entrenched enemy will have quadrupled its output of vitriol and disinformation.) Our goal is here is twofold. First, we seek to replace the mainstream’s self-righteous pride about its homophobia with shame and guilt. Second, we intend to make the antigays look so nasty that average Americans will want to dissociate themselves from such types.

Under 6. Solicit funds: the buck stops here:

Any massive campaign of this kind would require unprecedented expenditures for months or even years—an unprecedented fundraising drive. What issue advertising does include these days is almost any communiqué presented openly by a homosexual organization. The words “gay” and “homosexual” are considered controversial whenever they appear. Because most straightforward appeals are impossible, the National Gay Task Force has had to cultivate quiet backroom liaisons with broadcast companies and newsrooms in order to make sure that issues important to the gay community receive some coverage …
 

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