One of the interesting sidelights of being a writer and activist is the correspondence I receive. So I spent a few hours on a wintry weekend going through my inbox. Here is a sampling.
On Christmas Eve, ''ex-gay'' advocate Sharon Kass copied me on a message to Chicago-based gay writer Paul Varnell: ''Untreated homosexuality, like other untreated emotional disorders, involves rage, depression, anxiety, and narcissism.... In 1999, the victim of 'gay' lust-aggression was thirteen-year-old Jesse Dirkhising. In 2006, it was thirty-two-year-old Robert Wone.... Do you really think the American people are gonna stand for this? The plain illogic of homosexuality works against it politically. And ex-gay information is spreading. There is life after 'gay.' And it's better.''
Instead of responding with rage, depression, anxiety, and narcissism, I wrote, ''Your reference to illogic is a nice touch, given your preposterous generalizing from a few cherry-picked horror stories. And heterosexuality should be suppressed because of the crimes of [straight serial killer] Ted Bundy.... Get help. You are making Baby Jesus cry.''
After I wrote in defense of abortion rights last June, a reader identified as ''Pat_1425'' wrote, ''Abortion is genocide. Your moral equivocation and your advocacy of genocide undermine your credibility. You are no different than Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot. The only good abortionist is a dead abortionist.'' I accused him of ''an authoritarian perspective fundamentally at odds with American governing structures and traditions of liberty.'' Since he appeared to call for my violent death, I also forwarded his e-mail to the police, and he soon received a visit from the FBI. I love a good argument, but saying you want me dead? Not cool.
One anti-gay obsessive sent me a series of obnoxious rants. I finally replied: ''I thought you should know that someone using your name has been sending me the most absurd letters.'' (This was once written by a member of Congress to a constituent, and as a taxpayer I feel entitled to use it.)
Last week, a woman named Salwa sent the following: ''As determined by the Bible, if you are non-Israelite you are a foreign woman; and the Bible makes known that the foreign women are but prostitutes, rubbish, dirt, robber etc.'' I replied, ''Dear Salwa, I have no idea who you are, but I am rather sure that I am not a foreign woman.'' Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Rather than address my arguments, some correspondents put words in my mouth, such as in this factually challenged message from September 2008: ''You can say what you want about how Gay folks should fall in line with Obama, just because he is the 'annointed' one, the one that party elders, and the MSM have chosen for us. But guess what, it was a sham, and the DNC should be ashamed of themselves and not be rewarded with an Obama presidency.'' I doubt that the conspiracy-mongering author of that e-mail was mollified when his candidate became secretary of state. What a winning philosophy: If you don't get everything you want, pull the house down on yourself.
An influential person wrote last fall (and I paraphrase), ''I appreciate your smart and tireless activism, but we need a black face on our marriage equality effort; so please consider stepping back from speaking to the press.'' This, by the way, did not come from a black person. I replied that journalists approach me because I have been a leader in the D.C. marriage fight for years, and that the many gay and gay-affirming African Americans who have also played leading roles do not require my withdrawal in order to shine. I am not the most self-promoting person in Washington, but asking me to disappear is a bit much.
Here is a note I received last June after being interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio: ''I just finished listening to you on WPR / Kathleen Dunn's program. I have to compliment you on your poise, quality of discussion and factual grace. I really mean this when I say that you're a model guest for any serious discussion on any topic — political or otherwise.'' Hey, I do have some fans.