in bigots we trust

Who Did Norman, OK Just Elect To The Suicidal City Council? Anti-Gay Local Dave Spaulding

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In September, 19-year-old college student Zach Harrington (pictured, right) returned home to Norman, Oklahoma, to attend his town’s city council meeting, which was holding a public forum on a proposition to formally recognize October as LGBT History Month, as one way of recognizing the contributions local gay business owners and workers have made to the community. The measure was defeated in a 7-1 vote, but not before three hours of intense debate, where some of the most vile anti-gay arguments were presented. And videotaped. The following month, Zach killed himself, with that very meeting serving as one of the reasons he felt so disillusioned with the world. And now that Norman has held its city council elections, who are residents calling their new elected official? Oh, just Dave Spaulding, who with his wife Eve spoke during that fateful September public meeting. To denounce the “special rights” gays were seeking.

“What gives the gays the special treatment to have a month named for them? And why is the city council even addressing the issue?” That’s how Dave kicked off his tirade against your “special” rights, promising to use his power to unseat any councilmembers who supported the measure. “Do they want equality, or do they want to be placed on a podium? Make up your mind.”

That came after his wife Eve took the mic.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson to argue why gays don’t deserve special recognition, Eve says her anti-gay stance has nothing to do with her moral views about The Homosexuals. “There is still a disservice to our community and our children if we allow this proclomation pass. Equal rights for all, special rights for none,” says Eve. “There are not heterosexual history months or straight marriage months. Therefore the organizations referenced in this proclamation specifically state that it is their request to be treated equally, and equally is not proclaiming a month to celebrate their history.”

So yeah, this is who’s helping run the show in Norman now, as if the town needed any more homophobic help. I know Zach is looking down from above, shaking his head.

(Special thanks to reader Tim for the head’s up.)

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  • Scott Bonzitski

    GLAD I don’t live there! Some parts of America are still in the past. [and some want to take us back] Why do people insist on having things just their way all the time and cannot compromise is beyond me. Ignorance I guess. It’s S-A-D…SB

  • Clark

    I spent a year in college there and it’s actually quite a progressive town. This surprises me. The University of Oklahoma was a great place for an out gay student like me, even back in pre-DOMA 1994.

  • Francis

    Norman isn’t bad—-where the college kids stay. And that’s the same for many bigoted cities. But overall, this is still Oklahoma, and the bottom line is, the mid-west, south and mountain west are largely homophobic areas and this is a horrible story, but not surprising. It speaks wonders about the mentality of the people who live there.

  • hephaestion

    The tragedy is that no one ever pays attention to city council elections so turds like this always get elected. We need more local elections focus.

  • Stanley

    Okay, perhaps Dave Spaulding is a little too vitriolic, but he does have a valid point. Are we looking for equality or special rights? If June is supposed to be a government-recognized LGBT awareness month, why can’t there be an official “Straight awareness month” where there can be “Straight pride” and emphasize the importance of male-female unions?

    In some ways, I can relate to Zach Harrington. I’m gay, I’m originally from a conservative town and I’m generally shy, introspective and thoughtful, but very traditional. It’s so terrible that Zack committed suicide. I’ve thought about committing suicide before too.

    I’m just resistant to the idea of following what the liberal gay community tells me to believe. I’m not some fashionista who is anorexic or muscular, talks with a lisp, flaps his hands, and spends his time with drag queens and cross-dressers.

    I’m just a boring, slightly overweight gay guy who does most of his shopping at Wal-Mart. And I love the chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A. I’m okay with that.

  • terrance

    @Stanley: yeah, and while you’re at it, lets add “white history month” too. we need a LGBT awareness month for the same reasons we need black history month and women’s history month, because these are still largely oppressed social classes. we need to let black, gay, and female children know that they’re humans, in spite of any oppression and persecution they may feel, and we have a month attributed to the contributions people like you have made to this society.

  • Danny

    People should attend every meeting and ask what can be done to stop politicians from committing genocide against gay people to see what their answer is.

  • Oprah

    Absurd. Why do gay people constantly cry and scratch to seek approval? What will a ‘gay month’ help for the gay community? I mean, i dont even understand a ‘black month’, deal, whats the use of all this useless declarations? Seriously? And what happened to move out small villages and into a gay friendly city?(not necessarily gay friendly city but a more civilised environment which big cities offer) Come on, lets not give obese small penis heterosexual opportunity to feel ‘superior’ towards gays. Seriously, i refuse to allow any obese, ugly person more superior than me. Dont care how fast your hetero small penis loves to hump.

  • niles

    The mistake many people make is to try to argue with a bigot on their terms. Obviously, this couple is using the old bogus special argument to crush any sort of progress in this god-forsaken and tornado-ravaged wasteland, and it appears they have been successful.

  • Eric Holder

    I’m beginning to think theses homophobes are right…we are sick. Or at least the younger generation of gays are. Why else would they think the proper respose to this kind of bigotry is to kill ones self? All of these dumb kids ending their own life because some straight person doesn’t like them is indeed SICK. Enough with the suicides. Fight back, don’t give them what they want, which is our kind DEAD.

  • Scott Bonzitski

    We don’t need to have a month. Let the str8 people have ALL of them [they DO now] and they ARE NOT going to give up any of them because they “think” that “they” are “special”. It comes easy for them you see…>GREEDY<…SB

  • Martin81

    @Stanley — The reason there is no “straight history month” is because heterosexuals make up the majority, are not condemned by the majority, and there is no reason to understand straight history because straights were not targeted for imprisonment, assaulted, and even killed for being straight, and have not needed to fight for equal treatment because they are straight. That is also why there isn’t a need for a “straight pride” — heterosexuality is considered the norm, the majority of people are heterosexual, and heterosexuals are not considered abominations such that they need to be encouraged to feel pride in who they are.

    But I can tell from your “I’m not some fashionista who is anorexic or muscular, talks with a lisp, flaps his hands, and spends his time with drag queens and cross-dressers” comment that your one of these self-loathing types who hates on any gay person that doesn’t fit some “straight-acting” mold. Maybe you should start feeling some gay pride and accept the fact that gays (just like straights) come in all different varieties.

  • Stanley

    @Martin81: I don’t know if I can have any “gay pride.” I wish I was a straight man. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve cried at night, wondering why God would make me this way. When I would find myself aroused at the thought of a man, I would try to “fool” myself into thinking about women, but then I would quickly lose my erection.

    I just want to be a normal person in middle America. I’m a shy, slightly overweight, probably unattractive guy who wants to have a boring life in the suburbs.

    They say “it gets better” but I honestly don’t understand how. All the gay men I see around here are extremely image conscious — they are fit or lean, and some are very promiscuous — seeking out regular sex on Craigslist, Manhunt, and Grindr. A lot of them have HIV, but they don’t know they have it, or they don’t tell their sexual partners. Some are more flamboyant than others, some talk with a lisp and some say “hey, gurl!” all the time and like to wear women’s clothes & makeup. Others wear leather chaps and wear collars around their neck in public, as if they were a dog.

    I don’t want to be shaking my rear on a float at a gay pride circus parade. I just want to be normal.

  • Zach

    I’ve lived in Norman for 19 years, and while I can’t say that I’m not planning on moving away the second I graduate from OU this May, I can say that Norman is a very progressive place considering its geographical handicap. I know hundreds of people in Norman who are accepting of gays. The very same city council meeting where the Spauldings spoke against gay history month also included many speakers who spoke eloquently in favor of the proclamation, including the pastor at a local church whose congregation includes several gay families. The mayor of Norman, Cindy Rosenthal, was in favor of the proclamation. The point I’m trying to make, I suppose, is that there are Dave Spauldings everywhere, but Norman has its share of wonderful, accepting, and kind people (they’re also all over the place), as well as numerous welcoming community oriented organizations. So don’t knock the place just because some bigot made it onto the city council.

  • Kalbo

    I’m an OU alum, and I also thought Norman was a very progressive city when I lived there (99-06) — an blue oasis in a dark red state. Too bad this council district elected a bigot.

  • MattGMD

    Equal Rights, not “special rights.” Every assertion that “the gays” are seeking “special” or “extra” rights must be countered to clarify only “equal rights” are being sought. Tired of them playing from the Karl Rove playbook by sound-byting us and framing the argument.

  • Dynex Dog Lover

    I visited Norman, Oklahoma two years ago. I was in a big social gathering (accompanied my best friend whose family resides there) where there must have been some 200 folks in attendence. I can’t even tell you the number of times I heard the words f*ggot, how evil gay folks are and how gays would burn in hell, coupled with manyyyy Biblical references. The truth of the matter is, it all boils down to religion. You see, Christians like to hide behind their bibles all while preaching nothing but hate and often MILITANT messages. They can’t even hear nor understand their own message. They are too busy telling you how right their belief systems are and how wrong your soul is. I can’t have any respect for anyone who associates with religious mentality as it has often done so much to damage so many, and when this fact is acknowledged, you get nothing but a bible verse in return. Again, to justify the bigotry. My best advice to folks living in heavily dominated Christian areas is to get out. You don’t need to be around people who lack common sense. What more saddening is the number of gay folks residing in the Bible belt who have themselves convinced being gay is wrong after having it beat in their head all their lives. those folks literally are floating on this planet, lost, without any soul. It’s sad.

  • Aaron L.

    @Stanley: Stanley. You have a great deal of issues that need to be worked out. There’s a lot of self hate there, and your obsession with gay culture and MISINFORMED stereotypes of my gay brothers just further makes you hate who you are. Why do you even come on a gay web site and constantly post anti gay commentary when this is not something you want to be part of? You are not proud or even favorable toward being gay…what is your obsession with commenting on every single article on the most prominent gay website on the net? That is not healthy minded, and you sound absolutely miserable. I hope and encourage you to seek help, perhaps log off this site, and do some soul searching. Ask yourself if logging on this website uplifts your day? if constantly being reminded of the very thing you resent uplifts your day? if belittling the very thing you are uplifts your day? if the answer is NO for any of these….step away from the computer, from queerty, and from gay websites and go inward. Figure out who you are, before passing judgment on how other gays should lead their lives. I say this with serious respect and SERIOUSLY hope you take it in to consideration, beause your path now is destructive and you can be so much more productive with your time and contributions to society, rather than camping out on a gay site, to which you don’t take joy being part of, only to diminish all gay related anecdotes. Who does that serve? People here won’t take you seriously, and their comments only seem to further be upsetting to you. It’s just not a healthy formula. Hope you find peace.

  • Anyway

    @Stanley — Google “gay bingo”, “gay softball”, or “gay bowling” for your city or (perhaps better yet) a nearby larger city. It does get better but you have to put yourself out there. Heck, go to a drag show! Not because you want to be a drag queen, but because it’s campy fun (albeit a bit challenging the first time!)

  • Gigi

    @Stanley: I get it. You don’t feel that you fit in with The Gays so you’re just fine to go to Wal-Mart and Chick-fil-A and call it a day. You don’t want the Liberal gays tellin’ you what to do or how to feel. And you don’t like it when the butch queens or the skinny queens or the lispy queens draw attention to themselves because your internalized homophobia kicks in and you feel uncomfortable. I get it. Welcome to 1986.

    When I first moved away from home to go to college I felt the same way. I was in a big city for the first time and I actually said: “Gay pride parade? What do we have to be proud about? Everyone hates us. Why do we have to be so flamboyant?” In those days all of the news outlets had coverage of the parade, all of which was scandalous and sensational. Leather queens and drag queens, that’s it. And they wouldn’t film the drag queens at the start of the parade when they still looked pretty – they’d wait until the end when their make-up was running and they looked like something out of a horror film. That was 1986.

    In 1989 I met the love of my life (we celebrated our 22 year anniversary yesterday!!) and that was the first year I attended the Gay Pride parade. That was the year that my attitudes changed forever. We went with some friends but I had to work, so when the parade was half over I had to leave. I walked up the street myself and I saw something amazing: all sorts of people, gay and straight, young and old, enjoying the parade. Smiling and chatting and watching the floats go by. Just as I got to the subway I saw to older women, about my grandmother’s age, watching in awe as a giant float with sexy, speedo-clad young guys went by. They looked me, I looked at them, we all looked at the float and we smiled. Then I started to cry. I wept like a baby. I finally understood that we DID have something to be proud of. I got it!

    What started off as something very small, with an tiny budget and no sponsors to speak of has grown into a week-long party that attracts close to a million people, gay and straight, who love the parade and look forward to it year after year. It’s not a “special right” to want to celebrate your diversity.

    Straight people get their STRAIGHT PRIDE time 24/7, they just don’t call it that. They can talk about their husband or wife and children at work and not be fearful that they’ll be fired because someone doesn’t want to hear about their “alternative lifestyle.” They don’t get called out for “flaunting the sexuality” or for “having an agenda” just because they want to live their lives without being fearful each and every day. They can walk down the street holding hands and they can ever stop to give one another a peck on the cheek or a big wet kiss on the lips without being accused of “flaunting” the heterosexuality, or “shoving lifestyle down our throats.” Straights are full of it. Pride that is. Hopefully, one day, you’ll see that your life is special and meaningful and that you deserve to be happy just as much as everyone else.

    Fyi – those drag queens that you’re so scared of might not be your cup of tea, but without them and their tireless fight for equality we wouldn’t have any of the rights that we currently enjoy.[img][/img]

  • Scott Bonzitski

    @Gigi: You should be a writer! SOOO professionally stated! That is the TRUTH! Good for you and thanks for the entry…SB

  • Patrick Andrews

    I am very close to this issue and have read all coverage by this and other blogs. I have lived all 27 queer years of my life in Norman. I knew Zach personally and am close to his family. While it is difficult to accurately explain how I feel when reading this particular post I deem it necessary to get one important fact straight. Therefore, I will refine my comments to journalistic integrity as opposed to the slew of emotions I am still feeling. The resolution was NOT defeated. It passed 7-1. In Norman, Oklahoma October will be recognized as LGBT History/Awareness Month. While this divisive debate felt extremely poignant to Zach and myself, it is important to be clear that our town clearly stated support of education and awareness. To be sure the election this past Tuesday was not a win for the progressive culture of Norman, of which there is a thriving community. However, I have faith in our current mayor and many current council members to keep working towards a more forward thinking and better Norman. What I have lost faith in is this blog. I know that fact checking isn’t always easy. In this case, however, prior articles written by JD highlight this inconsistency. I am thoroughly disappointed as I am sure Zach would be too.

  • Patrick Andrews

    @Zach: I second that and thank you.

  • Tim

    Ok, two things.

    First, wasn’t there anyone in support for LGBT equality there? It would have been nice to see it featured at least as prominently as the bigoted side was.

    Second, Stanley you ARE the reason there should be a LGBT awareness month. We need people to know that we are like everyone else. Biggots like these feel justified because they have convinced themselves, and others, that all gay people are… how did you put it… “fashionista who is anorexic or muscular, talks with a lisp, flaps his hands, and spends his time with drag queens and cross-dressers.” The point of an equality month of any kind is to raise awareness. In our case it would be to raise awareness to the straight community that we are not what they think we are. When I was growing up there was a movement who’s slogan was Silence = Death. Maybe it’s time to bring that back. The more of us that make our presence known the more our community members and neighbors will figure out that we are not as different as they have been led to believe.

    Also Stanley, I want you to know that while you may feel that being “a shy, slightly overweight, probably unattractive guy who wants to have a boring life in the suburbs” and being gay are mutually exclusive. I am living proof they are not. With the exception of shy (no one would call me shy) you could very easily have been describing me. Including happily living the boring life in the suburbs. The only difference is I am happily living that boring life in the suburbs with my husband of 12 years (well fiance for 9 years and husband for the past 3). You say; “I don’t want to be shaking my rear on a float at a gay pride circus parade. I just want to be normal”. So don’t shake your rear on a float at a gay pride circus parade, just be you and do what ever your idea of normal is. This is just meant as advice, however if you truly don’t feel you can take this advice; my next suggestion would be for you to reread the comments posted by Aaron L and/or Gigi again.

  • artful_mark

    Now, to really appreciate the God-given glory of Dave Spaulding and the Appalling-Spauldettes, you must watch the meeting online:
    Dave-O regularly belches, farts, scratches, shifts uncomfortably (hemmhorroids?), while his wife, Summer’s Eve, has hotflashes, and either has a menstrual cramp, and at the climax of the evening either her water breaks, or her unborn (lesbian?) daughter kicks the shit out of her dumb, self-righteous ass, and she has to make a break for it. It’s such a pleasure that the fugly Spauldings chose to sit on-camera for the whole meeting. Oh, and the most precious segment? When Brother Matt Spaulding, sashays down to the podium in his tight-ripped jeans, too-tan complexion, gel-spiked hair… in retrospect, it seems as if he is about to break forth into song with, “Born This Way”. Alas, he’s just another blow-hard. I predict this family will rush to see their Lord as they will likely have hate-induced heart-attacks within the decade. Blecch!

  • Stephen Tyler Holman

    I must point out that the proclamation passed by a vote of 7-1, not defeated 7-1

  • Tyler

    Holy shit, Queerty. The measure PASSED by a vote of 7-1! I know, it’s too easy to make shit up and feed a relentless narrative about how Oklahomans are a bunch of bigots. While this is not the most accepting state, Norman is a relatively progressive college town. What drove this poor kid to commit suicide was the vitriolic comments of a hateful minority that Mr. Spaulding is a part of.

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