TIME frets that gay activists aren’t as nice as MLK

Professional dancer Brandon Ambrosino is at it again with another therapy session labeled as journalism. This time Ambrosino frets in TIME that modern gay activists aren’t as nice as Martin Luther King.

Ambrosino is known for his “gay rights make me squeamish” style of writing. For example, his recent piece in the Atlantic informed us that it’s not anti-gay to be against gay marriage.  (It is, however, anti-gay to be constantly writing articles defending homophobia and homophobes, but that’s for another day.)

Martin Luther King (Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Photo by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer.)

Martin Luther King (Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Photo by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer.)

Ambrosino thinks it’s not anti-gay to be against marriage equality

What Ambrosino isn’t known for is complicated thought.  Take this paragraph in his “it’s okay to be against gay marriage” oeuvre:

If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them? Disagreement is not the same thing as discrimination. Our language ought to reflect that distinction.

Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe it works the same way that it’s “racist” to tell n-word jokes, but it’s also racist to burn down black churches.  Same word, varying severity.  Yet, the African-American civil rights movement survives the quasi-homonym and fights on.

Ambrosino thinks we’re being mean to Aaron Schock

Ambrosino was also quite disturbed that I, and others, were taking anti-gay GOP Congressman Aaron Schock on for the fact that he comes across as awfully gay.  Here’s another rather uncomplicated, and poorly written, paragraph from that Ambrosino piece:


Aaron Schock.

Some might argue that because Schock “lied” and flatly denied gay rumors, he deserves to be outed. But this line of reasoning turns on a very limited, outdated understanding of sexuality. Sexuality is fluid, and many of our sexual experiences confirm this. Even if Schock and a buddy were caught in the shower together doing something more than conserving water, does that necessarily mean both men are gay? Maybe they’re bisexual. Maybe they’re hypersexual. Maybe they’re experimental. Maybe they’re straight MSM (men who have sex with men).

I say “poorly written” not to make this personal. But if Ambrosino is going to write about the poor quality of our modern gay activism, and activists, and name me by name (well, by mis-spelled name), then it’s fair game to discuss the quality of our critics. The man is simply not a writer, nor much of a thinker. So why do TIME and the Atlantic keep giving him column-space to write what most would consider a rather-rushed post on a b-list blog?

I just have to share one more bit of Ambrosino analysis from the TIME Schock piece:

I can certainly understand why some LGBTs would want to out celebrities and politicians in the attempt at gaining increased visibility. But I wonder if limited visibility is really the problem. I don’t think even the staunchest anti-gay voter is unaware of our numbers, although he might be confused by our conflicted message: don’t shame us – we’ll do the shaming! Perhaps we should worry less about being seen, and more about how we’re being seen.

I smell a closet.

Gay activists are mean

So with that background, I’m not terribly surprised that Ambrosino’s latest rhetorical carnage laments the fact that gay activists aren’t as nice as MLK:

I do, however, worry that many of our loudest gay activists agree with him. That is, even as they position themselves within the tradition that produced Dr. King, they seem to have lost sight of King’s true legacy of love.

The current landscape of queer politics is growing increasingly hostile. We no longer prize intellectual conversation, preferring instead to dismiss our opponents in 140-character feats of rhetoric. We routinely scour the private lives and social media accounts of our political opponents in the hopes of demonizing them as archaic, unthinking, and bigoted. Whenever we find an example of queer hatred, we are quick to convince the public that the only proper way to deal with these haters is to hate them.

In contrast to contemporary gay activists, King found a way to condemn evil without condemning the evildoer. [emphasis added]

Yeah, not so much:

MARTIN LUTHER KING: “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”

Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine

Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine

The bad people?  He’s mean.

You know who else wasn’t nice?  Rosa Parks (ask the white people sitting alongside her at the front of the bus how “nice” they found her actions).  And the African-American college kids who sat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.  And the organizers behind the Montgomery bus boycott (oh that’s right, MLK actually led the boycott).  And the Suffragettes.  And Nelson Mandela (he even used bombs).  And the Founding Fathers and their muskets.

I’m not even convinced that Ambrosino’s thesis is even accurate.  White racists didn’t find Martin Luther King just as angry, hostile, and hateful as Ambrosino finds gay rights advocates today? Really?  And, as noted in the MLK quote above, Martin Luther King did not condemn evil but fail to mention the evildoer.

But there’s a more fundamental problem underlying Ambrosino’s article: Why write it at all?  What’s the problem that needs fixing?  Ambrosino never tells us.

It’s not enough to simply claim that “activists are mean,” and that per se that is a problem.  You have to explain why being mean doesn’t work generally, and isn’t working on the gay rights front in particular. And Ambrosino never does that.  He never explains what isn’t working, and why it needs fixing. You get the disctinct impression that the real problem for Ambrosino isn’t that we’re ineffective, it’s that strong gay rights advocacy simply makes him feel icky.

In the case of modern gay activists, I challenge you to find any progressive (or conservative, for that matter) movement that’s been more effective than us in the past few years.  And our successes did not stem from being nice.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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88 Responses to “TIME frets that gay activists aren’t as nice as MLK”

  1. wmforr says:

    Most sites have the lyrics wrong (who understands comme il faut? But Harold Rome said it seventy years ago:

    It’s not cricket to picket, not cricket.
    Oh, no, it’s just not “comme il faut” to picket.
    You haven’t any right, you know. You’re acting in great haste.
    Just think of the predicament in which your boss is placed.
    And “entre nous,” I think it’s in exceedingly bad taste.
    Not cricket to picket, not cricket.

    It’s not cricket to picket, not cricket.
    Atrocious and “gauche,” you know, to picket.
    Go home and starve like gentlemen, not like a noisy brood.
    Real ladies never make a fuss though they lack clothes and food
    And money’s never talked about for that would be quite rude.
    Not cricket to picket, not cricket.

  2. Badgerite says:

    LOL. The weaker, the better.

  3. Ninja0980 says:

    From what I’ve read,yes he is.

  4. StraightGrandmother says:

    Okay basic question. Is Amnrosino gay? I never heard of the guy so I am asking this basic question first.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Must agree with this observation – people who grow up around people like this end up internalizing it.

  6. Strepsi says:

    I agree, and thanks for calling Bullshit.

    I usually just file his columns under “Oh, honey, no.”

  7. JaredBascomb says:

    In large part, it’s because none of them can imagine being LGBTQ, whereas those hetero situations/circumstances could apply to them or someone in their family, church, etc.
    It really comes down to the icky gay sex.

  8. MyrddinWilt says:

    One feature of Obama’s approach is that he does not have a history of picking fights unless he thinks he can win. He was very slow to get into the same sex marriage issue. I don’t think that is because he wasn’t for marriage equality, he was just not going to invest any of his political capital into the issue until he thought it was winnable. It was the same story on DADT and many other progressive issues.

    Which makes me wonder about his decision to suddenly wade into the legalization of cannabis. That seems incongruous unless he believes that the War on Drugs is a third war he can bring to an end.

  9. MyrddinWilt says:

    Or all those people who think we should do nothing to stop Israel’s construction of settlement after settlement in the West Bank funded by US taxpayer funds because there are equally nasty people elsewhere in the world.

    As far as I am concerned as long as the US is giving a dollar in aid to a wealthy developed country like Israel, that money is going to fund the settlements.

  10. “I have a dream.” Ambrosino would have given the: “Um, I kinda had some thoughts that maybe, if you’re not too busy, I could, you know, um, if you want, maybe, share a few with you – I don’t want to intrude or anything – you know what, it can wait” speech.

  11. Tysalpha says:

    No awareness-of-history clothes, either. Seriously Brandon, at least learn about the ineffective Mattachine society (contrast with Stonewall), ACT-UP in the 1980s, etc. We didn’t get to where we are without fighting for it!

  12. BeccaM says:

    Thanks. I’ve used variations on the same argument as well. I’d also add that it might be possible to get the anti-gay rights side to admit they’re not crazy about two drunken heteros getting hitched in Vegas at 4am and having all the rights and privileges of legal civil marriage. And some might even be consistent enough to feel that we shouldn’t have no-fault divorce. (I don’t agree, but…)

    But here’s the kicker, as far as I’m concerned: They’re not fighting to pass laws to ban impulse marriages for heteros. Nor to repeal divorce laws. Nor to limit marriage only to breeders, or to ban the infertile from marrying the fertile. They’re not spending millions of dollars to promote their idealized (and unrealistic) version of marriage for those most responsible for failing to abide by all the reasons they cite now for denying marriage rights to gay and lesbian families, namely the heterosexuals.

    It’d almost be cute to keep watching the homophobes keep trying to come up with rational-seeming reasons for opposing LGBT rights other than “geys are icky” — and failing every time. Almost cute, if not for the serious results when they succeed in the legislatures and courts.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully his little swimmers are weak.

  14. Badgerite says:

    No, I hadn’t heard. I don’t like reading about him so I don’t. Jesus!. The Irony.

  15. karmanot says:

    Hagiography is the poetry of the big lie.

  16. karmanot says:

    That’s why the essence of ‘real’ history is made by diarists, journal keepers, poets, artists and story tellers.

  17. karmanot says:

    Propaganda is not writing per say—more like building Versailles with Lego blocks.

  18. karmanot says:

    Well, one must admit that Condoleezza Rice was quite gifted: she could skate backwards,while playing the piano and singing the theme from Dr. Zhivago in bad Russian

  19. karmanot says:

    “Screw nice. Be good. Do what’s right.” Spot on! Question authority and never assume authority is right.

  20. karmanot says:

    Nailed it!

  21. karmanot says:


  22. Anonymous says:

    “They would let Charles Manson get married if there was some woman stupid enough to have him.”
    I guess you haven’t heard about his new fiancee Star, and how they’re planning to marry? They appear to have conjugal visits in prison too, or at least close contact. If he can drum up publicity every few years, they’ll keep him alive.

  23. karmanot says:

    Beautifully and powerfully expressed.

  24. Anonymous says:

    But straight people gotta make those oopsie babies. Don’t you watch Duck Dynasty? You have to procreate as much as possible. The church needs members; McDonald’s needs customers…

  25. Badgerite says:

    MLk and the Civil Rights movement as a whole did not succeed in their goals because they were nice.
    They succeeded because they were right. And the country could eventually see that.
    What the ‘nice’ did was to protect them from the charges always leveled at demonstrators and civil rights activists that they themselves were the source of the trouble. And repressive measures were therefore justified. By being well mannered and non violent, the country could clearly see, when they were met with violence, that that violence was unjustified. That it was the cruelty of the system in place and that system needed changing if it wanted to call itself American.

    And there is no rational reason to oppose marriage equality. Please don’t tell me it has anything to do with the good of society of moral considerations. They would let Charles Manson get married if there was some woman stupid enough to have him.

  26. ;D ARELI says:

    I agree with dcinsider whith the whole suicidel and being nice but jet gay relationships last longer than stright relationships

  27. AnthonyLook says:

    If one is against “marriage” for either “straight or gay marriage” then you aren’t anti gay. If you specifically against “same sex marriage” then yes you are a bigot and anti gay.

  28. emjayay says:

    I can’t find a link to the Time piece, only the Atlantic one. Maybe it’s just me. Not hard to find, but anyway here it is:


    Not a huge amount of comments there, but almost all negative.

  29. dcinsider says:


    How many gay teens do we need to lose by suicide for this nitwit to grasp that being nice is the last thing on our minds?

    How many partners must watch the hateful families of their dead spouses (see Bridegroom) desecrate our relationships in death?

    How many survivors must be thrown into bankruptcy because the estate tax exemption is not available to most gays in America?

    How many beatings are we expected to endure and keep our smiles pasted on as though we are the happy house-hands on America’s plantation?

    Sorry, all out of nice.

  30. ronbo says:

    If change is the objective, then results are what count.

    ACT UP brought change; HRC received corporate funding.
    One motivated true, painful change, the other became a comfortable “git along to go along”.

    MLK recognized the need for change and took the path of results. TIME is hoping that the memory hole can be used to change reality to perception.

    To those who understand that “change” is ALWAYS painful, the cost is endured. MLK gave his life and is rightfully honored. The lesson of change and pain should not be forgotten; it is the true lesson of MLK. TIME should be shamed for trying to paper-over this reality..

  31. Ninja0980 says:

    Reading up on him,his family is very,very religious and has no doubt expressed their option of him numerous times.
    And sad to say,his writings reflect a technique many who grow up in such families develop to deal with the pain.
    That their families still love them and those who call them out on bigotry are the intolerent ones.

  32. Ninja0980 says:

    No different then Ben Carson,Clarence Thomas, Crystal Wright, Allen West etc.
    Like the quislings,the names I just mentioned considered themselves superior to others and thus have no qualms about bashing and joining the right wing hatefest

  33. rmthunter says:

    I just took it as a reference to Ambrosino’s usual reading matter.

  34. rmthunter says:

    “Just like the Montgomery bus boycott was about more than the right to
    sit anywhere on the bus or eat at a lunch counter, winning marriage
    equality means progress in a lot more areas besides.”

    Thank you for articulating that so clearly. It’s a point routinely missed by the left-over New Leftists who interject their own agenda priorities into any discussion of same-sex marriage. (You know the ones I mean — “Why are we wasting all this energy on SSM, which is for rich, privileged gays? We should be working to prevent erosion in the Sahara!”) They don’t seem to understand how issues inter-relate and interact.

  35. rmthunter says:

    It’s a matter of using the “meanness” as a weapon — or a tool, if you prefer. I see no reason to be “nice” to people who are insulting me and mine every time they open their mouths, but the way to counter that is to point out their meanness and their dishonesty, and if I have to do it without mincing words, so be it — I have no problem with calling the likes of Tony Perkins a liar, and I wouldn’t necessarily be as circumspect as David Boies about doing it.

    There’s a whole contingent of — what shall I call them? “Gay pundits” perhaps (with all that implies) — who are in the “be nice” and “wait until the grown-ups say we can have equal rights” camp and frankly, they’re not worth the air they use up: they’ve bought into the religious right’s framing and subtext, and there’s no way you win this kind of argument when it’s all on our opponents’ terms. Ambrosino’s obviously in that camp, and frankly, he and those like him are just another obstruction.

  36. StraightGrandmother says:

    Okay basic question. Is Amnrosino gay? I never heard of the guy so I am asking this basic question first.

  37. Sadly he does if he keeps getting published by Time and the Atlantic, and he does.

  38. Ted Hayes says:

    Does Ambrosino matter? I never heard of him until just a few minutes ago.

  39. greyone says:

    Most of you readers are probably too young to remember malvina reynolds song it aint nice……

  40. pericles9 says:

    Does Ambrosino have anything to say about Bayard Rustin?

  41. JaredBascomb says:

    “But when they conclude that it’s perfectly fine, to use my favorite example, for two drunken strangers to impulsively get married in Vegas at 4am by an Elvis impersonator — as long as those strangers are male and female — but not okay for two women or two men who have been together for decades, as lovers and partners, to have any rights at all . . . ”


    I used the *exact* same analogy in a letter to the editor back when Britney Spears had her 55-hour Vegas “marriage” and Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin’s 50-year partnership and subsequent marriage was cast in limbo by Prop 8.

  42. PeteWa says:

    Brandon Ambrosino, what a terrible, sad joke of a man.
    no wonder he’s employed at Time.

  43. dommyluc says:

    Right on target as always, John. Just HAD to go to the article to write my own response to Mr. Ambrosino. It was not pretty.

  44. UncleBucky says:

    Mean? Does the writer at TIME have any fucking idea what LGBTQ people have gone through since forever to live as those who got the silver spoon of heterosexuality? Nope, I think not. So, as in the case of people of colour all over the world, they are OUT, although I don’t want to, by using that word, minimize or trivialize being a person of colour. Yet, the LGBTQ person, each in his or her or their communities of colour, can shut up, act straight and marry anyway to stay alive, whilst getting what happiness and solace is possible through other means… But it ain’t anything happy to live a lie or to cover up one’s true self. And so that gets us back to “being mean”.

    If someone slugs you in the face, and you fight back, that’s being “MEAN”?????

    Aaron Schock, you can go to hell, baby. Ambrosino, shut up.

  45. BeccaM says:

    Well, you know how I can be: Acerbic and cynical, plus just a tad ruthless. I truly believe, for instance, that being nice would not have resulted in DADT being repealed. Nor would it have resulted in Obama and his administration doing a 180 on marriage equality.

    We (collectively) made it more painful for the Dems to oppose or ignore gay rights than to support them.

    As for losing something, what are we losing? Is Ambrosino suggesting that gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t challenge same sex marriage bans in the red-conservative states because that’ll upset the homophobes who passed them? Or if we do manage to win some rights here and there, we shouldn’t look happy about it or allow ourselves to appear on TV in the county clerks’ offices getting married?

    I’m honestly trying to figure out where he sees us being mean, other than the one obvious example of outing hypocritical public officials who are closeted privately but virulently homophobic in their public actions.

    Speaking from a purely personal point of view, having been on the winning side of marriage equality now since August, I absolutely cannot agree with Ambrosino that there’s nothing inherently anti-gay in opposing marriage equality rights. I can get and sympathize with whole “Wow, this is unusual, I need some time to get used to this, it doesn’t feel right” angle. I’m willing to give anyone the time they need to think about it.

    But when they conclude that it’s perfectly fine, to use my favorite example, for two drunken strangers to impulsively get married in Vegas at 4am by an Elvis impersonator — as long as those strangers are male and female — but not okay for two women or two men who have been together for decades, as lovers and partners, to have any rights at all — I have no choice but to conclude they’ve chosen homophobia and intolerance over compassion and rationality. Especially when the ultimate reasons they give are based on slander and lies.

    Anyway, my standards are as I outlined above. Hypocrites should be outed, especially when they have benefited personally from public bigotry. Those who reform or ‘evolve’ can be forgiven — but only if they actually work to undo whatever damage they’ve done; those who confess and then disappear, or worse, continue to excuse the bigotry of others don’t get a pass.

    I’ll eschew my metaphors entirely to close: It’s impossible to fight the status quo and to fight for civil rights without upsetting anybody. And without having your methods called into question.

  46. MyrddinWilt says:

    All I could see an argument for at this point would be being magnanimous as victory approaches. Screw that.

    At this point marriage equality is as close to being a done deal as is possible without it having happened. And the fight over marriage equality was always about far more than gay rights. During the Clinton administration, social conservatives decided that they were going to go all in and stop Clinton allowing gays to serve openly in the military or marry. They decided that was their line in the sand and they would hold it. And twenty years later they have lost all their guns, their positions have been overrun and they are in full retreat.

    Just like the Montgomery bus boycott was about more than the right to sit anywhere on the bus or eat at a lunch counter, winning marriage equality means progress in a lot more areas besides.

    The Reagan revolution is over and the pendulum is swinging back the other way. We are starting to see more talk of increasing the minimum wage, passing the ENDA and clamping down on union busting tactics. Obamacare is the start of a universal health care system, not the end. The next surplus is not going to be blown on yet another tax cut for the richest of the rich causing another crash.

  47. BeccaM says:

    American society wants to write Dr. King permanently into the past.

    Absolutely. Furthermore, they want to create an idealized, sanitized, and actually somewhat feckless version of him. As Houndentenor points out above, everybody seems to want to remember Dr. King only for one or maybe two carefully selected and rather ideologically non-offensive speeches. (And only parts of even those speeches. People leave out everything that isn’t idealized and generalized.)

    Nobody wants to remember the social activism. His arguing for a guaranteed minimum living wage. His support for trade unions. Dr. King’s clear message that both the overt racists and the enabling ‘moderates’ of the day both needed to be opposed.

    For daring to challenge the social status quo and the Powers That Be, Dr. King had to deal with constant personal attacks impugning not only his message and tactics, but his own character as a man.

  48. Monophylos Fortikos says:


  49. The thing is, he seems to be lamenting that we’re losing or something? I could see, potentially an argument to be made that in order to win, and we have won, we’ve had to be as mean as the folks we’re fighting. And to a degree, that’s true. Not as dishonest as them, but tougher and meaner, yes sir. And at some point do you worry about that? Sure. I regularly sit back and try to make sure all this fighting isn’t jading me, or, blackening my soul. Then again, maybe we’re all Madame Curie and there’s no way to do the fight without getting a little radiation poisoning along the way, to force a metaphor :)

  50. I engage because, sadly, he keeps being published in TIME, and less importantly, but still important, the Atlantic. Someone needs to stand up and show that the emperor has no literary clothes.

  51. Anonymous says:

    That’s the argument Monocerous made above. It seems like they honor MLK in rather meaningless, overly symbolic ways. Schools shy from delving into the more complex ideas he had.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Yep – just give him a national holiday, show a glossy documentary in schools, and it’s supposedly all over.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Whether or not most Republicans oppose gay rights, they’re still voting for wingnut, loose cannon candidates. Especially in the Bible belt. Talk to conservatives, and they seem to believe their platform is totally incongruent with what their leaders are saying. If you are supposedly intelligent and educated then why vote for an extremist who says stupid things? They all claim that these politicians mean well and “everyone makes mistakes,” but it sounds like BS to me.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Ugh, can we please stop engaging these “status quo” writers who claim to be pro-gay but are clearly repressed and cowardly? Reminds me of the election piece by the woman who supported a 3rd party candidate because “neither party was good.” It’s all nihilistic and irrelevant to the current political landscape.

    RIP to Martin Luther King, and shame on this amateur for trying to use his name to get readers. Sadly, that’s what journalism has largely become. Sensationalism and emotional baiting with no substance or facts – a la The Daily Fail.

  55. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    American society wants to write Dr. King permanently into the past. I’ve noticed in the way that our history is taught and mythologized a general tendency to pretend that problems have been solved. When it comes to Martin Luther King the narrative goes: equal rights for black citizens was a problem; Dr. King fought for equal rights; equal rights were achieved and now we can move on. In a sick way the assassination of Dr. King has I daresay has come to be regarded as a sort of punctuation to mark the end of an unpleasant episode in history and not the cruel interruption of work left uncompleted and forgotten.

  56. Houndentenor says:

    JFK, RFK, Harvey Milk, Olaf Palme…it’s a long list.

  57. Indigo says:

    And how quickly his observation about the Detroit Riots was shelved. It was a class riot, the under class of both races in fact, he tried to explain, not a race riot. Boy, was that ever hushed up.

  58. Houndentenor says:

    I wish we’d get past the “I Have a Dream” speech when we talk about MLK. Yes, that’s a great speech. Maybe his best. But there were plenty of others, some of which are rather uncomfortable for us to hear still. All the more reason we should. They play one of them in Driving Miss Daisy. It’s a speech to a white audience challenging them to get involved because one day people will ask them where they were and what they did when the civil rights movement was going on. The same will be true on gay rights. Every Republican I go assures me THEY aren’t anti-gay but have other issues important to them. Do they say anything to the party or the candidates about their anti-gay positions and votes? Of course not. (99.9% of the time anyway) No group every got equal rights by being quiet and playing nice. It’s never happened. Rosa Parks could very well have ridden the back of the bus the rest of her life if she hadn’t decided to take a stand. Was that “nice”? No. It wasn’t nice. It never is to challenge authority, especially when that authority is wrong. It’s when they’re the most wrong that they’ll get the most angry at being threatened. And that’s why it has to be done. Screw nice. Be good. Do what’s right.

  59. karmanot says:

    “Those other people are just superficial idiots looking to say clever shit on Twitter. But I’m a thoughtful, nuanced person.” I’m tempted to remind such people that they are perfectly able to drown in the wading pool as contrasted with going down in the deep end. Personally, I’d rather associate with the denizens of the deep rather than rubber duckies and float rods. I’ve yet to meet a dolphin that restricts himself/herself to 140 character sound bites.

  60. karmanot says:

    Welcome to the Alice Longsworth Roosevelt Club!! :-)

  61. karmanot says:

    Damn Right! Good one Becca!

  62. BeccaM says:

    1. Ambrosino is woefully ignorant of history and all the things the racists and the racist enablers said about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Accusations which included exactly the criticisms Ambrosino throws at today’s LGBT community and gay activists. “Not nice.” “Too pushy.” “Rude and inconsiderate.” “Hurting small business owners.” “Communist.” “Intolerant of people’s deeply held beliefs.” “Confrontational.” “Violent.”

    Dr. King was not assassinated because James Earl Ray (and his probable co-conspirators) thought he was ‘nice.’

    Sure, Dr. King advocated non-violent protest. Since when has the LGBT movement been anything but non-violent at its core? As near as I can tell, our ‘violence’ peaked at cream-pie smearing and occasional indiscriminate glitter-litter.

    2. I read the article in full and see nothing but a litany of rather blatant concern trolling on Ambrosino’s part. And yes, John, as you say, he doesn’t seem to have anything like constructive suggestions, other than we’re supposed to sacrifice our civil rights so that anti-gay bigots don’t feel upset that we exist and aren’t suffering sufficiently.

    There is one key detail that seems to be missing from Ambrosino’s worldview: Homophobes believe it is wrong and immoral to be gay (or lesbian, bi, or trans). They believe it is both a choice and a willing perversion. Many of them believe that to be gay is the same as being a pedophile.

    You don’t get anywhere with such people by respecting those false, slanderous and scientifically disproven beliefs. We bring up the peer-reviewed evidence and proof — and all the bigots do is deny believing it. And furthermore, they deny your dignity and legitimacy as a human being, making it doubly impossible to have an honest debate. You can’t reason with those who would deny your right to exist.

    “My spouse and I and our kids just want some legal protections for our family.” “You’re a filthy pervert whose kids should be taken away before you rape them into being gay. And you should be dead.” That’s an impasse. Just like it was (and still is) for those racists who believe Caucasians are superior to all other races — no matter how ‘deeply held’ their beliefs are.

    3. My opinions about outing are already known: Private citizen with no particular power to hurt anybody else by being closeted? Fine, go for it. However, if you’re hetero-married but sleeping around with rent-boys on the side, your spouse and family deserves the truth — but that’s between you and them. If on the other hand you’re in a position to help or hurt gay people, and you’ve made your public career not out of being pro or neutral on the issue of gay rights, but actively champion the rescinding of the same rights you’re enjoying as a closeted gay man, free to sleep (or shower) with other men without fear of arrest, prosecution, and career ruination — sorry, but you deserve to be outed. Period.

  63. Fred Staffeld says:

    Readers, please help us with the Hire Brian Back effort. Brian Panetta was a gay band director who was fired after the Catholic school became aware of same-sex wedding plans. Google Hire Brian Back and sign the petition. Thank you!

  64. Indigo says:

    We, “the bad people” do not read Time magazine. But he’s right, we’re not Aunt Tom and we’re not the least bit “nice.”

  65. Indigo says:


  66. Bose says:

    Exactly. Just watch the pre-March interiews of MLK Jr., where he was hammered repeatedly with questions about staging an angry demonstration that was certain to devolve into violence, as well as belittled about whether black people had been well-enough prepared for the responsibilities of equal rights without years more of “education” and preparation.

  67. dula says:

    Any closeted gay person who tries to publicly deny rights to other gay people deserve to be outed and shamed. If you wish to stay in the closet don’t pick fights with your own peeps. You can hate yourself but don’t force your emotional damage on others.

  68. Naja pallida says:

    If you go through many of MLK’s writings and speeches, one of the common points he hits hard on is that the only thing he finds more disgusting than the enemies of equality are those who sit by and do nothing. If there was anyone he was “mean” to, it was those people.

  69. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    Also, he comments that we should try to foster inllectual conversation versus 140 character sound bites.

    That’s just pure superiority complex, that comment. “Those other people are just superficial idiots looking to say clever shit on Twitter. But I’m a thoughtful, nuanced person.”

  70. Sean says:

    Way back in the early 90’s I remember expressing frustration with closeted actors, and I was surprised when a couple of gay friends strongly criticized me for “attacking” such people. Shocked, I backed down. As frustrating as Ambrosino’s articles are, it’s progress that he feels compelled to formally make his bad arguments in the press. We aren’t policing ourselves the way we used to, and so we can all have the satisfaction of seeing him rebutted by people like you – thanks John!

  71. Naja pallida says:

    Trying to pass off fiction as fact, and weaseling around the historical reality, may not be bad writing, but it certainly makes for a bad writer. It seems Mr. Ambrosino’s only knowledge of the civil rights movement is a quick search of Wikiquote.

  72. karmanot says:

    That’s kind of you. :-) But, I’m of the mind that helicopter brats need their roters and blades plucked.

  73. karmanot says:

    Abercrombie for the mind.

  74. karmanot says:

    The TIME editors still think Dewey won.

  75. karmanot says:

    What a twit. btw, Isn’t TIME the Reader’s Digest Version of Republican reality?

  76. jomicur says:

    Time, like the rest of the MSM, loves, absolutely loves, gays who are willing to attack the gay community in print. Remember how the New York Times, used to gush over Andrew Sullivan, Camille Paglia, Norah Vincent, Bruce Bawer and Paul Rudnick? And let’s not forget Tammy Bruce, who parlayed bashing us into a gig as a syndicated columnist, and Johnny Weir, with his darling little Russian army uniform. It doesn’t seem to be quite as prevalent as it used to be (not quite), but Time is sure doing its bit to keep the tradition alive. For an out writer, athlete, performer or what-have-you with even slight conservative leanings, bashing our community publicly is a career move. Brandon Ambrosino is only the latest in a long line of quislings. Anyone interested might want to find a copy of Richard Goldstein’s ATTACK QUEERS, which gives a fascinating analysis of the phenomenon.

  77. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    I think that resorting to the tired cliches of false equivalence counts as bad writing, or at least as bad rhetoric. Certainly the implication that the mean boorish gays are all just superficial idiots interested only in pithy insults (“140-character feats of rhetoric”) is bad writing.

  78. lucyboots says:

    The deification of activists like MLK and Gandhi, denies their feet of clay. That’s the real shame because it negates the travel they really made as human beings.

  79. lucyboots says:

    My great internal debate is always on how much blame I, as a boomer, should carry for the behavior of later generations. I’ve come to the conclusion they have to own their own issues except one: I really do think we let them out in the wild without a bullshit meter and that may be the one we have to own. ;-)

  80. thebagman45 says:

    The opinions are crap, but I don’t see how the structure of the writing is bad. It’s serviceable at worst.

  81. Hue-Man says:

    That same “niceness” has led to the U.S. being completely color-blind – African-Americans are not discriminated against, racist comments are never made, and the “birthers” were/are acting only in the best interests of the country.

    Why are the gay-haters mouthing off to attack gays on MLK Day? Why don’t they use their megaphones to improve the lives of African-Americans? Yes, I know the answer to both questions…

  82. judybrowni says:

    There’s a reason I let my subscription to Time lapse, oh a decade or two ago.

  83. It seems that like with TV, TIME is going for that young-inexperienced and not terribly qualified thing in order to attract younger eyeballs.

  84. lucyboots says:

    Because I am old, I remember a moment when Time actually did okay reporting on many things, including MLK. You would think they would at least go through their own archives before letting this kind of crap get published under their banner.

  85. judybrowni says:

    Since being “nice” got MLK shot dead, I’m not sure that’s the path gay activists should take…

  86. Naja pallida says:

    Status-quo apologists said the same kind of things about Martin Luther King Jr. That he was being mean to the white establishment, and whipping blacks ‘into a frenzy’ every time he talked. That his methods of telling people to march peacefully in the streets were taking things too far, and that his whole point was to encourage the racist whites to attack them so he could use that as evidence of his oppression. If only he’d just be patient, things might magically drift to equality all by themselves. From the beginning concern trolls were “worried” that King was hurting the civil rights movement with his methods. Others said that all they needed to do is let him ‘blow off steam’ and then things could go back to normal.

    We’re not that far out that the truth can’t be easily found, and people like Mr. Ambrosino don’t get to re-characterize history because the very idea of change scares them.

  87. chris10858 says:

    This guy reminds me of those self-hating gays who think gays shouldnt “flaunt” being gay by living openly and proudly.

    Also, he comments that we should try to foster inllectual conversation versus 140 character sound bites. Thats exactly what is wrong with many in the Democratic Party/progressive movement. We want to develop a theis on why we believe our views on such things as the environment, social justice, etc are the correct way to go. Meanwhile, Republicans/conservatives are successful in convincing many Americans to push for things (like tax cuts for the uber wealthy) through 15 second sound bites.

    He brings to mind that saying, ” either help us or get out of the way.”

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