The Gay Nineties

Since Amendement 2 passed seven years ago, Colorado Springs has learned a lesson in Family Values.

At the same time, the city's Human Relations Commission was calling on the Colorado Springs City Council to pass a gay-rights ordinance. Car dealer Will Perkins tried to go to a couple of public hearings on the topic, but he found the rooms so crowded that he couldn't get in. He did hear talk, however, of forming an organization to oppose the proposed ordinance, so he went to one of those meetings. "I came out chairman without really knowing what I was involved in," he says now. What he was involved in was Colorado for Family Values. That group spent the next year working to get Amendment 2 passed; Perkins, along with CFV co-founder Kevin Tebedo, would go on to become a highly visible and oft-quoted spokesman for an entire movement. CFV started out with a mailing list of 91,000 names -- all of the people who signed the petition that put Amendment 2 on the ballot -- and had close to 10,000 active supporters, according to Tebedo.

And as recently as July 1998, CFV was joining other religious organizations to sponsor national advertisements featuring Green Bay Packer Reggie White -- in his uniform -- calling homosexuality sinful. "I thought we'd have an election, somebody'd win and somebody'd lose, and that would be the end of it," Perkins says. "Here we are nine years later, and it still isn't over."

But if the events of the last year are any indication, the glory days of Colorado for Family Values could be over.

Colorado for Family Values' Will Perkins.
Colorado for Family Values' Will Perkins.
Party poopers: Protesters at the Colorado Springs annual gay pride parade in August.
Party poopers: Protesters at the Colorado Springs annual gay pride parade in August.

Details


Previous Westword articles

"Fact or Friction"
The ex-gay movement has its straight man -- but ex-ex-gays may have the last laugh.
October 1, 1998
By Ward Harkavy

"Slay It With a Smile,"
Paul Cameron's mission to stop homosexuality is hard to swallow.
October 3, 1996
By Ward Harkavy

Take, for example, one of CFV's recent efforts. This past summer the group tried to censor the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Because Comedy Central's South Park is set in Colorado -- it was created by Coloradans Trey Parker and Matt Stone -- CFV argued that "Colorado citizens should feel a keener sense of outrage and more responsibility to speak out louder against this movie than anyone else."

So CFV put out a South Park Action Kit, a notebook filled with tips on how to keep the movie from playing in local theaters. The kit also contained a Christian Family Network analysis of the TV show's content, sample transcripts, and reviews from the Webmaster of a South Park fan site. "Use extreme caution with this material and do not leave it where children may see or read it!" the kit warns. "Thousands of people, young and old, will have their minds poisoned by this atrociously cute and sinister movie unless we take action to stop it."

The kit's content analysis provided titillating reading for anyone who sent eight bucks to CFV for a copy. The "Language Issue Analysis" of the TV show reported that a single episode contained "dialogue with 13 sexual innuendoes, 10 incidents of violence, 7 depictions of passing gas, 5 vomiting scenes, and 3 graphically bloody scenes." Its "Violence Issue Analysis" noted that character Kenny had been "shot, run over, decapitated, mangled, eaten, crushed, impaled, nuked, cut in half with a chainsaw, dismembered, bludgeoned, etc."

The "Sexual Content Issue Analysis" revealed that the character Chef "is portrayed as a person who tries to help and relate to the children's problems. However, he is also portrayed as obsessed with sex and sings suggestive rhythm and blues songs to them." This section included several exchanges of dialogue: "Grandpa: Your mom was here earlier and I humped her like a little bitch. Cartman: What?! Grandpa: That's right. Stan: Grandpa! Grandpa: And then, I dug up your Great Grandma's skeleton and had my way with her."

And then there was the kit's "Homosexual Issue Analysis," which focused on a South Park episode in which "children are taught tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality through the perverse idea that Stan's dog, Sparky, is a homosexual dog." After Sparky runs away and "finds acceptance at Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary," Stan has a hard time believing that Sparky is really happy. "Big Gay Al decides to lovingly teach Stan about 'gayness' by taking him on Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride 'to see the world of gayness through time.'...The scene moves to a shot of Hitler, a priest, and a guy beating up a homosexual. 'Uh oh, look out,' exclaims Al, 'It's the oppressors -- Christians and Republicans and...my!!'...'OK, let's steer our big gay boat out of danger and into a place where gays are allowed to live freely.' At this point, singers pop out à la 'It's a Small World' style singing, 'We're all gay and it's ok 'cause gay means happy and happy means gay.'" Later, "Stan and Sparky return to South Park where Stan tells all his friends and his community that being gay is o.k.'"

But it was not okay with CFV.


CFV's campaign against South Park might have made the group look ridiculous -- had anyone noticed its efforts. But Frank Whitworth believes CFV's descent into irrelevance began many years earlier.

"In '92 they were almost omnipotent -- they were unbeatable in this community," he remembers. "One attorney who supported us told us, 'There are a lot of people in this community who would support you, but they're afraid of what CFV would do to their businesses or lives.' They had a grip of fear on this community -- and because of the vilification they'd done of gays and lesbians, to support us was to support people who abused kids and drank urine. That's what was gripping us in '92, '93, '94...Up until that time, they'd won everything here and statewide."

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