What is the "gay agenda?"

It's about more than rainbows, show tunes and Rosie O'Donnell worshipers

Hide your children, pack your bags and hop a flight to fantasy land! There’s a gay agenda afoot!

In 2004, conservative Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn gave a frighteningly impassioned speech, summed up: "The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power ... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today."

Holy fuck, man. Forget 9/11, put nuclear proliferation on the back burner – homosexuals are terrorizing our great nation. With assless chaps and Isaac Mizrahi sweaters, this secret cult of gays is threatening to destroy our esteemed American values, one bigoted ideal at a time.

I’m not kidding, folks. This is some serious, scary shit, but a high-heeled army of male Tina Turner impersonators isn’t the image keeping me up at night. The fear of a “gay agenda” lurking among the masses, ready to engulf the country at any moment, is a truly terrifying presence.

Problem is, nobody seems to know what the “gay agenda” actually is.

When asked what they thought it meant, at least a dozen Syracuse University students had no clue. Between the “umms” and “uhhs,” responses ranged from “gays conquering the world and legalizing gay marriage” to “a rainbow-colored planet.”

It sounds like a laundry list: “Oh, I gotta run a few errands, take out the recycling, do the whole gay thing…”

For SU public relations professor Brenda Wrigley, it pretty much is. To her, the gay agenda means “getting up at 6:30 every morning, having breakfast, letting the dog out...” and, of course, identifying as gay.

But maybe it really is a series of goals established in an underground meeting of the gay mafia: “Okay, so Adam Lambert’s takin’ out Sarah Palin tomorrow, Elton John’s got the Westboro Baptists – who’s on top o’ the DOMA proponents?”

Whatever its true meaning, the “gay agenda” sounds obscure, heavy and terrifying – as it was intended by its creators, which, by the way, are not the members of LGBT.

The first public record of the term popped up in a 1992 Family Research Council political video called The Gay Agenda. How appropriate. The film accused homosexuals and liberal supporters of burying a hidden agenda behind equal rights activism. Conservative politicians and groups adopted the phrase to gain support by frightening more right-leaning American constituents—essentially piggy-backing into power on promises of protecting traditional, hetero-normative family values.

Conservatives continue to use the phrase today. Mission America battles furiously to keep the “gay agenda” out of the classroom. Concerned Women for America urges women to resist gay activism and even offers “11 Ways You Can Fight the Homosexual Agenda.” Right-wing blogs like Renew America sing of the woes caused by the agenda and offer advice to other narrow-minded parents on how to barricade children from it.

Recently, however, the LGBT community and allies have also adopted the phrase for the exact same purposes their opponents claimed they were hiding all along. The latest political news on the Prop 8 trial, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and gay adoptions can be found at http://www.gayagenda.com.

Gays and lesbians ran with the term at http://wwwradicalhomosexualagenda.org, as a way to motivate other members of the community to take pride in the fight for their rights and get politically involved.

So maybe the gay agenda isn’t such a bad phrase. Maybe it truly is what it means—gay power is growing in the U.S. and everyone can take it as they please. Get out while you still can or stay and enjoy the rainbow. I hope you like show tunes. And Cher.

Multimedia production by Kelsie Testa

Meghan Russell is a regular web contributor to Pride Fever