Right Sees Red Over Boston’s Gay Prom

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 15, 2009

One especially vulnerable group among the GLBT community is gay youth; every year, the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth (BAGLY) organizes a Youth Pride day capped by a prom for teens who might not feel safe taking a date to the prom at their schools.

But this year, even BAGLY's May 9 prom at Boston's City Hall was not safe.

Anti-gay organization MassResistance, which originated as a group trying to overturn the right of gay and lesbian families in Massachusetts to marry, infiltrated the BAGLY event with what the group claims was a 20-year-old college student.

The purported student then reported on what he allegedly saw, in a June 9 posting at the group's Web site.

The claims ranged from gay variations on the sort of behavior that would be seen at any prom attended by heterosexual teens to allegations of drug use to insinuations that adult predators were on the scene. The report labeled the BAGLY event an effort to "recruit" youths into a "cult" of homosexuality.

The spying episode was reminiscent of a ploy in 2000, in which the group sent a mole to a confidential discussion for gay teens.

Students who went to the meeting had concerns and questions about safe sex and other issues; despite the promise of confidentiality, a tape recording of the meeting was made in secret, and then broadcast on a radio station.

Labeling the May 9 Youth Pride day a "Transgender Prom," MassResistance adopted the language of child welfare that has been used by anti-gay activists for decades to justify denying gay and lesbian individuals and families legal parity.

From the outset, the nature and tone of the article posted at MassResistance was forthrightly anti-gay; the alleged eyewitness to the prom wrote in the first paragraph that he "found the events [at the prom] disturbing, depraved and outright criminal."

The Web site featured a photo of a man it said was a bondage instructor, and claimed that he had handed out his business cards to teens.

The report also alleged that though the event was meant for gay youth ages 22 and under, older adults had free access to the prom.

The purported eyewitness also estimated that some of the attendees were as young as 12.

That claim was seized on especially vigorously. Calling the event "your worst nightmare," and claiming, "This is what your government and the homosexual movement are doing with your kids," the site played up the presence of "bizarre adults," with the report concluding that gay teens had been "brainwashed" into believing they were not heterosexual, and taking tongue-in-cheek T-shirts labeled "Recruiter" seriously.

"This 'prom' was a recruiting propaganda event," the report declared, adding, "The homosexual cause is a cult."

The report also targeted BAGLY, calling for the de-funding of programs for GLBT teens and deriding such programs.

"The behavior directly promoted by BAGLY and the other organizers of this prom, is hideous and depraved," the report read.

"The homosexual agenda is criminally being shoved down the throats of the young underage kids without the knowledge of their parents or the taxpayers of Massachusetts."

Though the BAGLY prom had taken place in early May, MassResistance waited a month to post the report--with the result that the story was seized on by other anti-gay groups in the midst of Pride season.

WorldNetDaily posted a June 14 article based on the MassResistance report that took the wild claims even further, claiming that "homosexual heavy petting" was going on at the event and playing up the presence of the "leather-clad doorman who teaches sexual bondage classes."

The article also made reference to "a prominent transsexual activist who specializes in recruiting middle and high school children" being present at the event.

WND paid close attention to the claims of marijuana smoking at the event, asking for police comment but coming up empty: a spokesperson for the Boston Police told the anti-gay site, "We don't have any reports on [drug use at the event]," while a spokesperson for Boston's City Hall advised the site, "There were both City Hall security on hand and also undercover Boston police officers. The allegations in terms of smoking both cigarettes and marijuana are unfounded."

Added the spokesperson, "City Hall has hosted the event for at least 15 years and never ran into issues of that sort."

The spokesperson had his own theories as to where such rumors came from and why.

"People can make allegations about anything they want. The individual who claims that the person was holding paraphernalia might have an agenda of their own," he observed.

"But, as far as we are concerned, there weren't any problems with the event."

In contradiction to the claims made by the purported eyewitness as to the highly porous nature of the event, where no one's ID was checked to ensure age-appropriate attendees, another page at the MassResistance site declared that, "No 'outsiders' were allowed inside--only kids and homosexual/ transgender activist adults."

For a hermetically sealed event, however, the prom generated plenty of photos of gay teens: more than a dozen photos of young GLBTs appeared at the site, some showing gay teens hugging one another.

Last fall, Michael Olivio, a photographer for the group, was seen lurking near a high school, taking photos of teens. When police responded, Olivio ran--and then stripped naked.

The head of MassResistance, Brian Camenker, admitted to having sent Olivio to take photos.

A photo of two teens kissing, purportedly at the prom, was also posted at Free Republic.com, a conservative chat site that frequently posts items about gays and lesbians for participants to comment on.

The responses generated by the story were reminiscent of earlier such chats. Chat participants overlooked issues of the teens' privacy, resorting promptly to name calling and references to the Bible.

The posts suggested that marriage equality had led to gay teens embracing their sexual identities.

Wrote one respondent, "The left has pretty much achieved what they wanted with gay marriage."

Replied another, "They haven't achieved what they wanted. We will see to that in due time.

"Change is coming for the socialists and for the perverts and their allies," the respondent added.

The unsupported claim that 12-year-olds were at the prom excited comment.

"Bringing 12 year olds to a freak sex show is not right," wrote one.

Another declared, "Would not break my heart if anyone attending this event got infected with HIV. I may even be tempted to laugh."

Still another chat participant replied, "Even the 12 year olds? It would break my heart.

"They are too young to decide these things for themselves, or understand the consequences of what they are playing with."

The claim that the event was a "recruitment" targeting children was not contested, but rather seemingly fit in with predigested ideas about gays.

Wrote one conversational participant, "They want your children."

Another quoted from the New Testament, citing Jesus as condemning any who would bring harm to children.

A strain of condemnation toward gays in general was also evident, with one participant writing, "Homosexuality is wrong at a very basic level but you can be assured that if we hide our heads in the sand this kind of crap will continue to be increasingly in your face not just in liberal Massachusetts but slowly and surely in every state in the union.

"They will not stop and eventually through hate crimes legislation you will be treated worse than a racist if you disagree."

Another added, "Well, it seems the Catholic Church was right. It is a mental disorder."

Others lamented that America was approaching ruination with the acceptance of its gay citizens. Wrote one, "The people can't seem to abort and sodomize themselves out of existence fast enough."

Others offered their prescriptions for the "problem." One typical comment read, "We need constitutional amendments in every state strengthening parents rights. What we needed is a strict definition of obscenity in the constitution."

Added that posting, "Gay marriage and increased acceptance of gay activism has huge consequences for public health mental and otherwise."

Others spared a few moments to ruminate on what the 2010 edition of the prom might be like.

One speculated that, "next years theme will be about herpes and the clap," with another chiming in, "It will probably be about bestiality, pedophilia and necrophilia."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.