Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Spring 1998

Pink Triangles and Holy Smoke

by Brett Humphreys

Our New York correspondent Warren Allen Smith commends the website of the Asociación Triángulo Rosa as the best gay humanist site he knows of. This is the first legally recognised gay and lesbian organisation in the small Central American republic of Costa Rica, whose main work is in the field of AIDS and combating anti-gay discrimination. The pages are available in both Spanish and English versions. The site describes how the problems faced in a hierarchical society, dominated by the Roman Catholic Church and a tradition of machismo, differ from those of North American and European cultures – a good example of the Web promoting a cross-cultural flow of information that should, over time, help to increase awareness of diversity and to mitigate the divisiveness caused in part by religion. The parent site Arenal gives lesbian and gay information relating to Spanish-speaking countries in general, again much of it available in English, which may also be of interest.

The Pink Triangle is just one of 20 or so icons in the Rainbow Icon Archive maintained by Jase Pittman-Wells. They mostly date from the 1970s and 1980s, and range from the familiar Rainbow Flag to the distinctly less familiar Lavender Rhino. The icons are all either public domain or cleared for general use, and so can be used by anyone to adorn their websites. They are available for download either individually or, for convenience, all together in a single zip file. In addition to the icons themselves, the Archive includes an explanation of the history of each icon. The Lavender Rhino, for example, was apparently “chosen because the rhino is generally a peaceful animal, but when provoked becomes extremely ferocious”. One might speculate that it also represents the thick skin lesbians and gay men need to put up with all the abuse we get!

A rather extreme example of such abuse is represented by the site of the Westboro Baptist Church (Pastor: Fred Phelps), of Topeka, the state capital of Kansas. The URI,, gives a clue to the main concern of this organisation, which consists principally of Mr Phelps and his extended family. John Lauritsen’s article in this issue of G&LH gives some choice quotations from the site and details of one of the group’s incessant “pickets”. The site now includes a burgeoning, if somewhat repetitive, collection of fax images of the Phelps newsletter ranting against gay lifestyles and haranguing various individuals in American public life from Bill Clinton down, replete with bible references and grotesque cartoons. In contrast to those Christians who can find no condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible, Phelps finds it in the most unlikely places – the favourite being his own peculiar rendering, repeated ad nauseam, of 2 Peter 2.22. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the width of the faxes makes them hard to view using a screen resolution less than 1024 by 768. Visit this site for its sheer entertainment value, but also as a reminder of how deadly serious these people really are.

Before spending too long at the Westboro site, take a look at the book-length article Addicted to Hate by investigative journalist Jon Bell and colleagues, available online (321 Kbytes) in the Queer Resources Directory. This revealing account, incorporating a long catalogue of domestic violence and child labour, covers the chequered history of the family up to Fred Phelps Senior’s disbarment as a lawyer. It perhaps goes some way towards explaining the motivation behind enterprises like godhatesfags, and certainly makes it clear who is the real “god” in this sad story.

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Created : Sunday, 1999-01-31 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
Brett Humphreys :