SF Gay Men’s Chorus receives death threats after InfoWars article
By John Ferrannini | SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus office closed “out of caution” after members began to receive an avalanche of negative messages, including death threats, in response to a song misinterpreting posted by the group on YouTube, its executive director said Thursday.
Chris Verdugo, a gay man who is the choir’s executive director, told the Bay Area Reporter on July 8 that the InfoWars website – run by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – called the song “A Message From the gay community ”“ pedophile ”in an article online July 7. This apparently triggered the vitriol.
“The threat that stuck in my head,” Verdugo said of the harassment messages he broadcast, “was, ‘We’re going to put a strain on your head. It was pretty scary.
The choir posted their video to YouTube last week.
Verdugo said the song includes the words “we are coming for your children” to evoke long-standing fears that gay men will convert children to homosexuality, in an attempt to expose those fears. The real conversion that interests gay men, Verdugo said, is teaching others to be “tolerant and fair.”
This post was lost or deliberately distorted by InfoWars, Verdugo said.
“The song is ironic, satirical, and I would say nuanced, except it’s not even that,” Verdugo said. “Since Anita Bryant, there have been people who think there is a gay agenda; that pedophiles will convert children into homosexuals. It is not true, but we have a gay program: teaching children to be tolerant and fair.
“Yes, we are going to convert them into tolerant, kind and justice-seeking people,” Verdugo said.
Anita Bryant, of course, is the anti-gay activist who in the 1970s led the Save Our Children campaign to overturn equal protection laws nationwide. Bryant was a brand ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission from 1969 to 1980. In 1977, during her successful campaign to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance in Dade County, Florida, the gay community responded by organizing a boycott. Orange juice.
Bryant once said, “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they have to recruit our children.
Verdugo said members of the choir and administration were inundated with phone calls and messages, which “run the gamut from hateful people, which we’re used to, to people saying we should be killed, and more references to Hitler and the Nazis than I have ever seen in my life.
Verdugo said the office, located in the National LGBTQ Center for the Choral Arts, will be closed until further notice. A San Francisco Police Department investigator is working on the case, he added, and the choir has been in contact with the San Francisco field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The field office acknowledged that the incident had been reported to them.
“I can confirm that this incident was reported to law enforcement, including the FBI,” the FBI media team in San Francisco said in an email. “We will not be able to comment further. “
The SFPD was unable to confirm or deny that investigations into the death threats were underway at the time of publication.
As BAR previously reported, GLAAD has found that LGBTQ people face more hate and harassment online than any minority group. Part of this is fueled by false equivalences between homosexuality and pedophilia, as GLAAD discovered in a March study.
As BAR reported last year, gay state senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has faced death threats for introducing a bill that InfoWars says falsely said it would “decriminalize adult men who have sex with boys.”
Wiener’s bill, which is now law, did not change criminal laws. It allowed judges to exclude from the state sex offender registry persons over the age of 18 who had been convicted of oral or anal intercourse with a person between the ages of 14 and 17, provided that the person thus condemned either within 10 years of the age of their consensual sexual partner.
This year, Wiener is aiming to raise $ 1.7 million in the state budget for the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts at the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on Valencia Street. The funds would be used for a new air circulation and filtration system; Governor Gavin Newsom has yet to approve the final budget.
John Ferrannini is Associate Editor of The Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco, California
The previous article was originally published by The Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.