These children of hate confronted me when I walked into the Capitol Rotunda last Monday. At first, it looked like just one more innocent group of kids on a field trip.
But upon further inspection, I realized most of these teenage-and-younger kids weren't speaking English. And they were also covered in "One Man. One Woman. Yes on 36" stickers. And they were staring at me—hard. Oh, shit.
When I decided to go to Salem to hear public testimony on SB 2 and HB 2007 (the domestic partnership and anti-discrimination gay-rights bills), I knew I might see the usual family-values yokels.
But who knew it would come with an Eastern European accent—and in such large numbers. Come to find out, 50 Slavic-speaking churches had bused in their congregations for a so-called "youth rally" where they could shout their dissent on these bills.
I should've seen it coming. On Feb. 7, WW reported in "God, Gays and Glasnost" that Russian churchgoers had started going after the "dirty people" (a.k.a. gays). But this was my first chance to confront this homo hate fest with my own eyes. And, being the fair and unbiased journalist I am, all I could think was, how do you say "fuck you" in Russian?
I wasn't the only one rattled. So were a bunch of other queer-friendly folks who came to support these two important bills. These people had real examples of how the bills would improve their lives, such as Laura Calvo, a transgendered woman who was unjustly terminated from her job as a cop when her superiors found out what was in her storage closet. All the Russians could come up with were Bible verses.
An affable 17-year-old student, Russ Motyko, came to Salem with a group of fellow students from Portland's Voice of Hope church. Oddly, his choice of words sounded more like the Voice of Hate.
"These are nothing but sad puppy stories," Motyko said about those who testified in support of the bills. "What about the effect it will have on everyday people like me, and where I will go to the bathroom?"
The bathroom? You know what's ironic about all this? Most of these young assholes are the products of parents who fled religious persecution in the former Soviet Union. So they come here seeking the "live and let live" promise of America, and now they're pissed that I want to live my own life. Screw that!
Go back to Mother Russia and leave my ass alone!
I know that doesn't sound very PC. But I'm not going into their church and telling them they can't light incense or sing their chants. Because, well, I've got better things to do. And you'd think, after all they've gone through over the years, they would too.
UPDATE: Listen to one reader's response to my column: