Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Very Gay Day Indeed

Six years ago—almost to the day—I lost a Metro Council district runoff election by a mere 25 votes. Just having gotten to the runoff was rather impressive, if I do say so myself, because the eventual winner, Parker Toler, had the backing of both the labor and the business folks as well as pretty much anyone in the district over the age of 50, who make up a disproportionate number of voters in Metro elections. He also had over $25,000 in campaign donations.

I had about a fifth of that in my miniscule war chest. Other than that, I just had me. My family pitched in a bit, but 98% of the campaign was me and me alone. I designed my own signs, my own literature, my own everything. I also—with some family help—did all of the mailings. I had no phone bank, no campaign staff, no nothing. Just me. Basically, my campaign was me going door-to-door before and after work on weekdays and all day on weekends, often with my then one-year old in tow.

The media liked me, which I’ll grant can be a double-edged sword. I received endorsements from every paper, including The Tennessean, which I found mildly surprising, because they knew my general political inclinations, but, evidently saw fit to overlook them in favor of the overall impression they had of me. The Nashville Scene endorsed me, which, given that I had been—and would return to be—a staff writer for them, was kind of a slam-dunk.

And..Nashville Out & About endorsed me. They did this—presumably—because of the answer I had given them to their question about laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which was, in effect, that I would not support the imposition of these laws on the private sector but would support such a law for the public sector. In other words, businesses and private citizens could discriminate on this basis but the government could not. If you’re wondering why that paper would endorse me with that “halfway” position, the answer is because the others in the race wouldn’t even go that far.

As George Will might say, “Well.”

This position, once it was made public, caused great consternation among a number of folks inside and outside of my district and I would usually make it a point to go talk to any person who inquired about face-to-face to explain where the position and how I had gotten there. Most people, happily, respected the fact that I had come to talk with them and were to live with it, although I can’t say for sure how they may have eventually voted. I suspect I batted about .333 with them.

There were a few, though, who, frankly, I saw no reason to waste my time bothering about. These were the people—and you’ve seen the type—who give Christians, or religious folks of any flavor for that matter, a bad name. There is actually a special label for them, developed over the years by authors, sociologists, anthropologists and other keen observers of the human condition. That label is, of course, “Complete Asshole.”

My personal favorite of this subspecies was a person I’ll call “John,” because John was indeed his actual name but since it’s so common it doesn’t matter if I use his actual name. My position on this issue—as opposed to, say, my position on schools, roads or taxes—inspired John to become my his special email pen pal, assaulting me with Bible quotes and other writings giving the usual patter regarding the allegedly highly unfavorable view God has of homosexuals. I eventually wrote him that I appreciated his opinion, but that we would just to agree to disagree on this one.

That set him off. John sent back this long, blistering email that concluded with the following:

“Mr. Abramson, I see from your campaign mailings that you have a young son. I don’t think someone who holds your views is fit to be a parent and I might have to do something about that.”

And that was it. To this day, I have no idea what he was talking about. What would he do, exactly? Talk to my son? To me? Assault me with a tire iron in the Kroger parking lot? Kidnap my son? What? Beats me. All I know is that it was extraordinarily creepy. Definitely the biggest “WTF” moment of my foray into local politics.

I have no idea what happened to John. Don’t really care, for that matter. But I do know that if John is still living in Nashville, he had to wake up this morning to read this story.

And that just completely makes my day.