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Closeted anti-gays are the enemy within

By LZ Granderson, Special to CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: There's a long list of anti-gay activists caught involved in pro-gay activity
  • Family Research Council's George Rekers hired a gay male escort for European trip
  • Granderson: Blacks call someone who undermines their own community an "Uncle Tom"
  • LGBT community needs a name for similar hypocrites, he says; they are the enemy within

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, and has contributed to ESPN's Sports Center, Outside the Lines and First Take. He is a 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) award for online journalism as well as the 2008 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) winner for column writing.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- I sat on my friend's couch trying my best not to laugh.

He was an associate pastor of the church I was attending, and he had taken it upon himself to introduce me to the ex-gay movement. I was in the early stages of coming out, and let's just say he wasn't very happy for me.

On this particular night, my friend and spiritual adviser decided to show me a video featuring the keynote speaker at an ex-gay conference in one final attempt to "save my soul."

Mission accomplished -- just not in the way he had hoped. That's because when the guy on the tape opened his mouth, I thought Big Gay Al from "South Park" had taken the stage.

Now normally, I'm not one who generally buys into stereotypes, but when he said he couldn't wait to get home to make love to his wife, I had a difficult time keeping a straight face. Pun intended.

It was then I knew it was better for me to join my brethren outside of the closet than soullessly antagonize them from inside, like the dude on TV.

Seems like there's always a dude on TV, doesn't it? You know, the anti-gay activist who is secretly involved in pro-gay activity?
--LZ Granderson
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Seems like there's always a dude on TV, doesn't it? You know, the anti-gay activist who is secretly involved in an apparent pro-gay activity? Last week, it was discovered a former board member of the Family Research Council , George Rekers, recently hired a gay male escort to carry his luggage around Europe. The escort says Rekers wanted him to give him erotic massages. (Rekers denies he is gay). But Rekers' story is very similar to that of pastor Ted Haggard, whose story was like Sen. Mark Foley's, whose story was like Gov. Jim McGreevy's, whose story was like ... well, you get the picture. It's as if being anti-gay is the new coming out.

When I was younger, I used to jokingly dismiss the salacious "gotcha" moments Rekers, who recently resigned from the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, now finds himself in. But when you consider the political, judicial and economic influence that he and those of his ilk have, and how they use that influence to selfishly impede social progress, derail justice and vilify an entire group of people, you understand why Kirby Dick named his documentary chronicling the double lives of folks like Haggard and Foley "Outrage."

When you really think about it, anger -- not laughter -- should be the reaction.

In the black community, one of the worst things another black person can call you is an Uncle Tom. Based on the 1852 novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the name is given to black people who consciously turn their back on or undermine their own community in an attempt to appease and gain acceptance from the white community.

One of my favorite rap groups, Public Enemy, summed it up on their 1991 song "Nighttrain" this way: "Disgracin' the race/ Blowin' up the whole crew /Wit' some of them lookin' /Just like you."

The gay and lesbian community has plenty of Uncle Toms trying to blow us up from inside, but what we don't have is our own word or phrase to identify them. Some call them "closet cases," but there is a difference between someone who is unwilling to live openly and honestly, and someone who takes that a step further and hurts those who do.

People in the closet warrant a level of sympathy because we all know how difficult it can be to embrace one's truth. And I do not believe in outing people who are simply living in hiding. But I do believe in revealing the identities of these gay Uncle Toms.

People like Rekers, a Baptist minister who was paid to testify against gay adoption and travel the globe preaching that therapy can "cure" gay people, do not deserve the same sympathy given to those who are afraid of losing their jobs. Not when they consciously morph from being victims of homophobia to attack dogs eating their young.

Some of my Facebook friends suggested calling folks like Rekers and Foley "Aunt Anita," a play on infamous 1970s anti-gay figurehead Anita Bryant. But she was never accused of soliciting sex from a same-sex police officer in an airport bathroom like Sen. Larry Craig was.

A few on Twitter thought "Uncle Roy" could work. Roy Cohn was a prominent lawyer who joined Sen. Joseph McCarthy in targeting gays during the Communist scare of the 1950s. Despite being gay himself, he continued to oppose gay rights until his AIDS-related death in 1986.

That's a good option, but the truth is, I really do not like linking this viral form of self-hate to warm and fuzzy names like "Aunt Anita" and "Uncle Roy." I don't want to call them anything that appears cute and harmless, because they are not.

And they are more than just late-night punch lines. They are extremely dangerous individuals who are instrumental in the manipulation of religion, the legislating of discrimination and the overturning of equality. Sorry if I don't sound very forgiving, but I've never been big on coddling those who wish to use my neck as a stepladder.

I prefer to see them as they are: the enemy within. I hope we all stop laughing at (and covering for) them--and start calling them all out for what they truly are.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.