Steve Hickey is a member of the South Dakota State House and a religious leader and the sort of person who will send letters to newspaper editors calling for doctors to declare that being gay is dangerous, with a "list of side effects would read far longer than anything we hear on a Cialis commercial." The letter was titled, "A One Way Alley for the Garbage Truck."
Get it? Hickey, who is a pastor at the Church at the Gate in Sioux Falls, is drawing an analogy between that alley and anal sex. He fleshes the idea out a bit more in the letter. "Pardon a crude comparison but regarding men with men, we are talking about a one-way alley meant only for the garbage truck to go down." Pastor Hickey means the anus! So, depending on the proclivities of those being discussed, sometimes we are also talking about a one-way alley lined with teeth that is meant for food-delivery trucks. But this is beside the point, both for us and for Hickey.
On Monday, Hickey, who represents the 9th District, proudly posted the full letter to his Facebook page. "Sent this letter to the Editor off to the Argus Leader," he wrote. "We'll see if they reprint it." (His wife, he said, "hates the title.") His main point is this:
South Dakota docs, it’s time for you to come out of the closet and give your professional opinion on this matter like you capably and responsibly do on all the others. Somehow the message we are presently getting from the medical community is that eating at McDonalds will kill us but the gay lifestyle has no side effects. Truth be told it seems self-evident the list of side effects would read far longer than anything we hear on a Cialis commercial.
His other arguments are not much less confused or confusing. "This indeed is a matter of being on the wrong side of history," Hickey writes, "considering that historically, homosexuality has been a notable marker of the downfall of past civilizations, not their rise." Because, see, there is an apocryphal understanging that homosexual sex was rampant in ancient Greece and then ancient Greece collapsed. (As has every other ancient culture, which is how "ancient" works.) This, he suggests, proves that homosexuality is "harmful to human health."
Then there's this, which glides quickly past dumb, skips over confused and lands on depressing.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association is presently considering changing the rules to accommodate transgender kids. Forty-one percent of those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria attempt suicide, that's twenty-five times the rate of the general population– certainly tragic and urgent but not a word from the medical and psychological communities?
[D]oes it merely put them in more places exposing them to additional painful ostracization all the while transferring serious anxieties to other innocent and impressionable ones in those locker rooms? We need to have compassion but there are unintended consequences to consider too.
Emphasis added, because irony looks better in bold.
Hickey's argument here: It is better and safer for transgender high school students to be relegated to the closet so that (1) they avoid being made fun of, and (2) they don't transfer unidentified "serious anxieties" to impressionable peers. There is an unmentioned option (3): support young people struggling with their identities by encouraging them to participate in normal activities — which is what the High School Activities Association appears to be trying to do.
A bit of good news that might assuage Rep. Hickey's concerns: the doctors have already weighed in. In the words of the American Psychological Association, "being gay is just as healthy as being straight." The emotional distress that gay and transgender people experience is often a function of the societal pressure imposed by people like Steve Hickey.
Yes, this is a state legislator in a small state, one of dozens of people who comprise half of the needed votes to advance laws in the state. But this is a legislator in a small state in the year 2014, well after the questions he insincerely claims to be raising from a position of empathy have long been answered. His crude, elbow-in-the-ribs headline reveals his true intentions: to mock and undermine something with which he's uncomfortable. Happily, his letter appears not to have met the editorial standards of the Argus Leader.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.