I had hoped that I would not have to post an announcement like this. I had hoped that the campaign against our community in Virginia would not descend into the kind of ugliness we saw in Oregon 14 years ago. Those of you who saw the film “Ballot Measure 9” will know what I am talking about. The use of demonizing rhetoric about the GLBT community in the campaign to pass a ballot initiative in that state gave rise to a pattern of anti-gay vandalism and violence that escalated as election day neared.
Yesterday, we received a report of a hate crime that occurred in Aldie in the early hours of Saturday, July 29. A home was vandalized, with damage estimated to be around $10,000. More than 80 trees and shrubs were ripped out or cut down, and the word FAG was painted repeatedly on and around the home. An accelerant had been poured on the lawn and around the house. It’s not clear at this point whether the perpetrators had intended to set the house on fire but were scared off before they had finished the job.
I am disgusted and saddened. To make matters worse, a young child, a relative who was visiting the homeowners, had to see this.
The good news is that the homeowners do feel that this crime is being taken seriously and being investigated by law enforcement as what it is: a hate crime and act of terrorism. We don’t know at this point either who the perpetrators are or the totality of their motivations, but regardless of those details this crime has taken place in the context of the increasingly shrill scapegoating of our community by the activists and elected officials who are determined to write discrimination into our Bill of Rights.
In Oregon, the discriminatory ballot initiative failed in large part because of its proponents’ outlandish propaganda and the terror that it unleashed. I had hoped that the anti-gay right might have learned a lesson from that defeat. Perhaps not. It is vital that the whole community be engaged to stop this hate in its tracks, and send a message to our local anti-gay activists that it will only backfire and hurt their campaign.
They need to understand this: You have gone too far. Not in our community, not in our town.
We will keep you informed of all developments in this matter, and of ways that you can give support to our Aldie friends. You can reach Heyward and John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please watch out for yourselves and for each other.
Photo credit: Isis