The Gay Nineties

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

And although he is no longer involved with Colorado for Family Values, Will Perkins promises that "within the next two or three months or sooner," CFV's restructuring will make the organization "even more effective than it was in the past."

Just this month, People for the American Way released its annual report on anti-gay activity, which reported almost 300 incidents in 47 states -- more than twice as many as in last year's report (there's a lengthy section on Colorado). This past April, a bill that would have added sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination protections died on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives; this month voters in Greeley defeated a local ordinance that would have protected gays. And last week, Gary Rogers, the Fort Collins-based president of the Colorado Pro-Life Alliance, announced his plans to try to get a same-sex marriage ban on a statewide ballot in 2000, which could provoke a fight as nasty as the one over Amendment 2.

Cheers for queers: Frank Whitworth at the bar where he watched election returns on the night Amendment 2 passed.
Cheers for queers: Frank Whitworth at the bar where he watched election returns on the night Amendment 2 passed.
Voice of America?: Colorado for Family Values' Kevin Tebedo.
Voice of America?: Colorado for Family Values' Kevin Tebedo.


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

But things have changed. One fall night, Frank Whitworth leaves his job as a development director for the Colorado Springs Urban League and goes down to the Hide & Seek. He's greeted affectionately by a white-haired man who is occupying the corner barstool where Whitworth watched the 1992 election returns.

Over a beer, Whitworth laughs loudly as he looks over a copy of the South Park Action Kit. "It's all they have!" he says of his former adversaries' recent cause.

The South Park kit gets passed around the bar. "That's too funny," says Jerry Morris, a local businessman. "At least they're on someone else's case!" Morris adds that he's prepared for "at least one more throe" before Colorado for Family Values really dies.

"A wounded animal, they say, is the most dangerous, and Colorado for Family Values is seriously wounded," Whitworth says. "I hope its wounds are terminal, but it's not gone yet.

"There certainly are people out there who hate us -- they're as bigoted and prejudiced against gays as they are against everybody else, and Colorado Springs has more than our share. But there's a huge community here that was sold a package by Colorado for Family Values, who have come to realize that's just what it was: a package, representative of no truth. They've come to know us, and knowing us they've come to realize that gays and lesbians are no threat to this community. When the mayor made her now infamous gay pride proclamation, she mentioned the contributions gays and lesbians made to the community. In 1993, the mayor at the time, when told he was going to meet with gay attorneys about whether the bar association was going to have its state meeting here, said, 'You mean I have to meet with the queers?' That change is a big deal."

Back in 1993, Whitworth adds, he "couldn't have imagined we'd be where we are today -- even in 2020."

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