... the awesome feminist/liberal/anti-racist-homophobic-ableist-classist activist/fighter for justice that you are today. Reading the post about how the men's rights movement dude was shaped made me think about how I ended up with the politics that really guide almost every aspect of my life and career now. Not surprisingly, I think I was influenced just as much by crazy bigots/zealots/conservative crazies as I was by anyone progressive in my life, and I started thinking that maybe I should thank one of them for their role in my life choices.
I was in 9th grade in the 90s when a local lawyer started sending weird homophobic "newsletter" mailings to every house in my small town. Reading this publication, I first became aware of how much hate and vitriol some people had towards LGBTQ people. My classmates and I were so disturbed by this that although there were no openly gay students at our small high school, we decided there was a need for a Gay-Straight Alliance. As we became more and more politically active in our community, and eventually organizing teach-ins and events statewide, this lawyer became increasingly fixated on our GSA and the work we were doing, increasing his weird newsletters and focusing on us in particular. Our battle drew the attention of the media, and culminated in my inviting him to join us at one of our meetings to see that we were not as corrupt and evil as he thought we were. He remained unconvinced, but he and I emailed back and forth for months after that, on topics beyond sexuality such as race, class, and, yes, the men's rights movement, of which he was a fervent defender. Without a doubt, his hatred and ignorance propelled me into my social justice activities in college, my eventual career in civil rights and then education, my volunteer work, and, arguably, my meeting of fellow activist/feminist shit-ass Mr. Dix. I know this experience was super formative for the social and political awareness of many of my friends as well.
I decided tonight to email him to thank him, but as luck would have it, he is dead. :/ (He was super old so no big surprise). I did manage to email the new editor of his "newsletter" which managed to outlive him (and get itself classified as a hate group by SPLC!) with my gratitude, explaining who I was, what had happened, and how by its mere existence, this site is continuing to create the very people it seeks to destroy. So here's my Sunday night procrastination invitation to you — if it's safe for you to do so, why not take a minute to thank the assholes who made you who you are? If not, share in the comments!