V the K: Frankly, I am at a loss to think of a single person whose life has been "destroyed" through the direct action of a conservative politician because of their sexual orientation.
Pat: V the K, I don't have any hard statistics on this, so I'm just going to give an educated guess. Many gay teenagers and young adults commit suicide because their being gay. Politicians anti-gay votes and rhetoric adds to the misery of young gay folks.
V the K: Which brings up the question, how much impact does the overheated gay propaganda that "conservatives and Christians all want to kill you and take away your rights" have on the psyche of young homosexuals?
As usual, I sit somewhere in-between. It certainly isn't healthy for gay teens and young adults to have to sit through rants about how gays are pedophiles, monsters, and responsible for all ills of our society (Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell), or that they should be denied the opportunity for such professions as public school teaching (Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina). On the other hand, though, it certainly isn't any more healthy for them to hear the same message from the gay press and "gay community" prefaced with "THEY say you are", over and over and over again, plus the constant refrain, "The Republicans hate you, the religious right hates you, everyone else hates you".
One of the most empowering things you can do as a gay individual is to come to the realization that neither the religious right or the "gay community" cares about you as an individual -- they only care about what you represent. If you do as they say, you are their friend; if you don't, you're a threat, regardless of any other redeeming qualities you may have.
Real America works a little differently, as was the case with young Michael Shackelford, a gay teenager in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Michael's issues were chronicled Parts One and Two of an article in the Washington Post, and were cited regularly among the "gay community" blogs and press as an example of how "horrible" things were in "red state America" for gays. However, the publicity that the story generated also got an unwelcome response -- a visit from Fred Phelps -- and the response from the people of Sand Springs, especially Michael's church, was heartwarming -- and also minimally covered in the "gay community" blogs and press.
In Michael's case, he may have found out early the way in which these two radically-opposed sides use people. As a cause celebre, especially prior to the election, I'm not surprised he got an invitation to an HRC ball in DC, as well as other things -- he was a symbol of everything that was "wrong" with "Bush voters" and a reason to bash them, which was all HRC cared about at that point (and apparently still does). Unfortunately, with celebrity comes detractors -- and he found one in spades with Phelps, who was bound and determined to use Michael as a means of shaming and humiliating the people and the pastors of Sand Springs for "protecting the fag".
When the people of Sand Springs stepped forward to defend Michael, though, they sent a powerful message to the Phelpses and the "gay community"....namely that they cared about Michael because he was Michael, not because of what he represented. This was anathema to Phelps and to the "gay community" for ironically the same reasons -- because they broke the rules and refused to toss Michael out on his ear. Neither side was going to get any positive mileage out of the matter, so they dropped it -- the Phelpses left and the "gay community" decided not to publicize it.
Was the reasoning behind the people of Sand Springs's decision acceptable? It depends -- the main reason given throughout for doing what they did is that, by showing Christian love, they would induce Michael to "change", which on its face is more than a little demeaning. However, at the same time, Michael is still a teenager -- it isn't anywhere close to time for him to make a decision about his sexuality, and it ultimately comes down to him doing what is best for Michael. That may mean being gay, bi, or -- horrors! -- STRAIGHT. And you know what? As long as he's happy, I don't give a damn -- and I thank the people of Sand Springs from the bottom of my heart for being willing to stand up and say NO to bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.