Homophobic Bigots Target Bookstore in Atlanta
By Douglas Hartley, Staff Writer, The Atlanta Progressive News, with additional reporting by Matthew Cardinale
“We’ve never had protestors in the 12 and a half years we’ve been here,” Philip Rafshoon, Outwrite Bookstore Owner said in an interview. “We’re very proud of that.”
The protestors appeared the Saturday before Gay Pride carrying signs, video cameras, and a bullhorn, Rafshoon said. He believes their appearance was timed to Atlanta Gay Pride and the prominence of homosexual issues in the news, including the homosexual marriage ballot issue which the Georgia Supreme Court ruled to be constitutional last week.
From statements made by the protestors, Rafshoon believes they intend to continue through the primary election cycle to the mid-term elections in November. It is possible, though, they may think their work is done, since the recent court ruling has occurred.
“Our customers are very supportive, but very upset the protestors are allowed to be here,” he said.
“Atlanta Police Department officials have told Rafshoon the protesters have a right to free speech,” Dyana Bagby, News Editor of Southern Voice Magazine, an Atlanta glbt publication, wrote on her blog. “Rafshoon said he is also seeking the help of the Atlanta City Council for some kind of recourse,” Bagby said.
When the protestors first appeared, Outwrite customers and community members immediately mounted an anti-protest campaign by standing among the anti-homosexual protestors with signs including “Jesus loves all” and “Honk if you are gay and proud,” according to an email obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.
One photo which appeared in Southern Voice after Pride Weekend, showed a bigoted protester with a sign that read, “Homo Sex is… (presumably: evil),” but a glbt supporter held a sign over the last word which said, “Great!”
“Our customers will take the lead,” Rafshoon said, when asked how the store will respond to the protests. “The best and most effective way to deal with the protestors is to tell them to get out of our community.”
Rafshoon believes the protestors are from a church in north Georgia.
One Outwrite employee told Atlanta Progressive News he wanted to give the protesters a hug. Other employees confided they think the protesters seemed probably homosexual themselves and are projecting their self-hatred on to others.
Atlanta Progressive News has fact-checked some of the Biblical passages cited by the protestors.
One protester’s sign read: “Men with men, and women with women; it is an abomination,” citing Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:18-32.
There is NO such quote appearing in either of those texts, and so, the protestor’s sign, is, at best, misleading. But is it an accurate paraphrasing?
“The first part of this verse [Leviticus 18:22] is literally translated as “And with a male you shall not lay lyings of a woman”,” according to religioustolerance.org.
It is commonly translated as, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind.” However, even that translation adds the words “as with.” This doesn’t say men can’t “be with” men, whatever that means; instead, scholarly debates have ensued over what exactly what activities are referenced here.
But anyway, even if the words “as with” should be added, it literally means men just can’t do the same activity they would do with a woman, or in the same way. And that shouldn’t be too difficult.
Neither does Romans 1:18-32 say what the protester’s sign claimed. While it does say that men lusting for men was “dishonorable and shameless,” these appear to be references to historically specific societal norms, that is, honor and shame. They do not single out specific acts as abominations. And in the Leviticus passage, homosexual women are not even considered as a possiblity.
So, the protester’s sign is just wrong.
“Eating birds of prey, eating shellfish, cross breeding livestock, picking up sticks on a Saturday, planting a mixture of seeds in a field, and wearing clothing that is a blend of two textiles are examples of acts of ritual impurity,” one of the two types of sins in the Bible, which were seen as unclean and unceremonial, according to religioustolerance.org.
Per this reasoning, the protesters should also send a contingent to Nikimoto’s Sushi Restaurant across the street; and to just about every retail clothing store in the country.
“The verse is, unfortunately, incomplete. Its precise meaning is unclear. The phrase “lay lyings” has no obvious interpretation,” religiousrolerance.org says. The website adds some interpretations mean two men shouldn’t have sexual activities in a woman’s bed, that is, “the lyings of a woman.”
The Outwrite protestors also appeared the Saturday after Pride and subsequent weekends after that. The protestors did not appear this Saturday.
Rafshoon is proud of the positive role his store has played in the Atlanta glbt community. The store is located at 10th and Piedmont, three blocks from the Midtown MARTA Station, and is often cited as one of the fundamental positive forces behind the revitalization of Midtown.
“Our customers come here for the great selection and the convenience,” Rafshoon said. “We’re very positive and very proud of the safe space we have created here.”
About the author:
Douglas Hartley is a Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at email@example.com This article contained additional reporting by Matthew Cardinale, News Editor.
This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.