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Writer Recalls Childhood Friendship with 'Bright-Eyed' Maggie Gallagher Before She Was NOM's 'Notorious Homophobe'

Maggie Gallagher wasn't always the wicked witch of NOM, according to Kevin Mims, who describes living across the street from her when she was approximately 7 years old, in a piece in Open Salon. Gallagher wasn't the only "notorious homophobe" with whom Mims had a close encounter. Sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, in the headlines recently for the controversy over his DC Comics Superman gig, was at one time, one of Mims' writing teachers.

You'll be interested in his tales of both of them.

Maggie_gallagherMims stumbled upon Gallagher's name reading a profile on her by Mark Oppenheimer in Salon. He couldn't imagine it was the same person:

But I was wrong. The Maggie Gallagher in Oppenheimer’s article and the Maggie I grew up with turned out to be one (and) the same.

 In 1967, when I was nine, my family moved into a nice home in an upper-middle class neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. The block I lived on looked as though it might have been just around the corner from the Cleaver household on Leave It To Beaver or the Anderson household from Father Knows Best. Across the street from us, and one house to the right, lived the Gallaghers, another moderately large Catholic family like mine. Maggie’s brother Billy soon became one of my best friends. Billy was a year younger than I, so we didn’t spend much time together at school. But after school we were best pals. We were both chess fanatics. We would often play a dozen games of chess against each other in the hours between our arrival home from school and the arrival of dinner time. Billy’s little sister, Maggie, younger than me by about two years, was a beautiful, bright-eyed little girl and a jewel of the neighborhood, one of those smart, articulate children that even the most curmudgeonly of adults cannot help but like.

CardAnd Mims had NOM board member and sci-fi bigot Orson Scott Card as a writing teacher whom he describes as one of his most generous, yet, like Gallagher "deranged on the subjects of homosexuality and gay marriage":

Orson Scott Card, on the other hand, may espouse toxic opinions on gay marriage and other topics, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more caring and generous writing instructor than he is. Fred has produced a tiny handful of books, each one smaller and less substantial than the previous one. I feel fairly certain that Fred prefers literary celebrity to the actual work of writing. Not Orson Scott Card. He works like a demon at his writing. He writes novels, short stories, histories, reviews, newspaper columns, comic books, poems, and plays. In addition to the mountain of work he has published under his own name, he has also produced work under at least seven different pseudonyms, according to Wikipedia. If you are seeking a work-ethic role model for writers, Card is your man. If you are looking for a model writing instructor, Card is your man. If you are looking for tolerant and progressive views about gay marriage, look elsewhere; Card isn’t your man. Like Maggie Gallagher, he seems to be somewhat deranged on the subjects of homosexuality and gay marriage.

Adds Mims:

I believe that the homophobia of both Maggie Gallagher and Orson Scott Card is rooted in their religious beliefs, and I doubt that either of them enjoys demonizing an oppressed minority. Some rightwing commentators seem to relish sticking their fingers in the eyes of feminists, gays, eubonics supporters, welfare queens, and other standard conservative straw men. I don’t get the sense that speaking out against gay marriage is something that Card and Maggie Gallagher do for fun. Something in their religious upbringing makes them feel obligated to express an opinion that they must know is rapidly growing as out-of-fashion as 1950s style opposition to integrated schools and racial intermarriage.

Read his whole piece here. If you're like me, you'll be glued.

Breakfast Epiphanies: Encounters With Notorious Homophobes [open salon]

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Comments

  1. I cannot devote any time and effort to understanding homophobes like Gallagher and Card, especially ones with their hatred deeply rooted in their religious beliefs. I don't need to do. I don't want to. End of comment.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Mar 9, 2013 9:57:49 AM


  2. Despite being a truly awful person and professional homophobe, at times I've thought there was some reticence on Maggie Gallagher's part to get really ugly about gay people. In comparison to Brian Brown and others her rhetoric wasn't quite as bad. Believe me I'm not praising her at all, if anything damning her with faint praise.

    I could be wrong, but that's my impression.

    But there is none of that in Orson Scott Card. He brings that same energy and work ethic that Mims praises to his gay-hating and is relentless about it. He's truly despicable.

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 9, 2013 10:07:19 AM


  3. She does it for the money and the attention. Which makes it all the more despicable. If nto for NOM, she'd be a cashier at Walmart [not to put down the cashiers at Walmart]

    Posted by: Ted | Mar 9, 2013 10:18:22 AM


  4. Yes Andy, I was totally glued. What a beautifully written and nuanced description of both Maggie and Card. It is way too easy to depict our nemeses as one-dimensional monsters. It takes a much more insightful and generous eye to conclude that "They are masterpieces marred by a serious flaw." Aren't we all.

    This is not an excuse, and he is correct to condemn their homophobia. But I admire that he pairs his condemnation with an earnest attempt to describe and understand. That is the only productive way forward.

    Posted by: Lars | Mar 9, 2013 10:22:03 AM


  5. Our time and energy should be devoted to something worthwhile-- like helping LGBT youth. MG abd OSC deserve the back of our hand -- and nothing more.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Mar 9, 2013 10:44:53 AM


  6. What the hell is "eubonics?"

    On Maggie G., I have actually read a book that Maggie published about marriage in the 1990's and there was nothing in that book that I (admittedly skimmed through) about gay marriage or homosexuality.

    Gallagher is genuinely concerned about the entire status of marriage in America, the focus on gays is recent and I suspect that she focuses on it, in large part, because it brings in the bucks.

    With Card, I have a sense that he has a very genuine hatred for gay people.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Mar 9, 2013 10:49:52 AM


  7. When discussing such people as Maggie Gallagher or Orson Scott Card in an attempt to understand how they got from there to here, it is possible that one will find those attributes that in the context of either one's life might be deemed as positive regardless of either one's hateful attitudes toward LGBT people.

    Someone once used the expression "the banality of evil", to describe the mediocrity and ordinariness of the men who founded and administered Germany under the Third Reich. The same could be said about either Gallagher or Card.

    It doesn't matter what small thing might be found that would soften the harshness of their actions or pronouncements. It will not change a thing.

    Both have made it their mission to demean and demonize gay people and they are so corrupted by their "religious beliefs" that they cannot nor do they wish to understand just how much harm they inflict upon people who do not deserve to be treated as such.

    That either one is so blinded by their "religious beliefs" that they cannot see the humanity of LGBT people exposes with irrefutable clarity just how decadent such "religious beliefs" are.

    Maggie Gallagher and Orson Scott Card are bad people. They are vile people. And, yes, they are evil. They deserve no consideration at all.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Mar 9, 2013 11:31:37 AM


  8. I grew up in a fairly strict religious family of 2 brothers and one sister. Of the four of us only my older brother retained the ultra conservative religious leanings. So, to say something like "it was because of their religious teaching" I don't think answers it all. They use religion to bolster their own natural, biological makeup. These people would have become nasty sociopathic bigots even without religion.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Mar 9, 2013 11:41:49 AM


  9. Well, like Shirley Phelps, Maggie is still 'repenting and atoning' for having a child out of wedlock.

    In another less-progressive time, maggie's son would have been labeled a Bastard for life, and it would have been a mark on him.

    And yet, Maggie Srivastev (let's be traditional and use her married name, even if it "sounds foreign") abhors liberal progressivism.

    People like Maggie Srivastev, and NOM's Brian Brown, need to think about their own potentially-gay children. They dont' seem to even realize that no matter how much they swing their anti-gay axe, it will not make their own children straight.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Mar 9, 2013 11:50:39 AM


  10. i want to read Ender's Game, but now i'm not so sure...

    Posted by: Eric | Mar 9, 2013 12:35:00 PM


  11. These people aren't victims of their religious upbringing. They use religion as a cover for their own prejudice and hate. When you grow up and start to think for yourself, it is not difficult to see that the reality of LGBT people is not what the Bible says it is. If you have any common sense whatsoever, it is easy to reject the religious mis-information that demonizes your fellow human beings and be a decent person. Millions have done so.
    Make no mistake: when people use their religion to condemn us, it is ALWAYS their CHOICE to do so. It's a cowardly way to be a bigot.

    Posted by: StillmarriedinCA | Mar 9, 2013 1:00:01 PM


  12. It may well be that Orson Scott Card, akin to many in the Catholic church hierarchy, puts on a public face of rampant homophobia because he/they believe it hides their own pedophiliac nature.

    How many other Science Fiction writers have the kinds of images Orson Scott Card has of naked little boys in his books? Didn't some of the stuff in the Ender books strike anyone else as creepy, even before Card started writing his anti-gay diatribes? It really doesn't take Sigmund Freud to guess at what may be going on in Card's twisted psychology.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Mar 9, 2013 1:33:34 PM


  13. The sad thing about Maggie is that gay men would be her best friend. They'd be her trainer in the gym, helping to shed that extra junk in her trunk and get that diabetes under control. They'd get her a haircut that didn't make her look like a resident of a 1950s mental ward. They'd help her with makeup and fashion. They'd make her feel better about herself, see herself in a different light, and maybe forgive herself a little for getting pregnant before she got married, and for then subsequently running that husband off. Gay men would commiserate with her!

    But instead she gets her validation by being a paid media-whore of the extreme religious right. They don't respect her any more than her baby-daddy did, and after Marriage Equality is birthed, the Far Right will abandon her just as quickly, and just as absolutely. And she's going to be all alone again.

    It's almost enough to make me feel a twinge of pity for her. ...Almost.

    Posted by: Poor Maggie | Mar 9, 2013 1:42:36 PM


  14. " I don’t get the sense that speaking out against gay marriage is something that Card and Maggie Gallagher do for fun."

    It might not be "fun" but I think they get a certain pleasure out of self-righteousness. It might be religious zeal, but hate is hate. There is no excuse and doing everything you can to virulently discriminate against certain people is not from a sense of obligation, but real hate. In my opinion, I think Orson is covering up for some homosexual tendencies in his own background, much like Cardinal O'Brien of the UK. It's too bad. He used to be one of my favorite authors until he started to spew his hate. I took all the books I owned that were written by him and threw them in the trash.

    Posted by: Brad | Mar 9, 2013 2:14:38 PM


  15. Gallagher has worked tirelessly espousing her point of view for so long, that she has earned her reputation as an execrable public figure many times over. The paucity of her ideas would be bad enough. But her doggedness in promulgating them has brought harm. She is an offensive bully who's been given the opportunity to pontificate.

    Nobody has benefited from her ubiquity as the face of anti-marriage other than Gallagher herself. The issue has brought her great financial rewards; her entire 'career' has been built around condemnation in one form or another. A strong pathology underpins her vehemence, which is unfortunate. A credible polemicist could have aired ideas that induced people on both sides of the discussion to consider the implications of this profound change in how a minority is regarded. She instead chose to fill people's heads with garbage. She has every right as a citizen to argue her point of view. It is a shame her only weapon was prejudice.

    Though its national adoption will take time, same-sex marriage has been considered and accepted by a majority of people in this country. It will take time for legislatures and the courts to catch up. Meanwhile, Gallagher will be forced to witness the mythologies she exhaustedly extolled be repudiated by an enlightened public. Some day she will learn to shut-up and spend some time contemplating her hate-filled contributions to the world. A lot of contrition will be in order if she wishes to climb from her swamp and enjoy the world along with the rest of us.

    Her absence will not be mourned. I can plug into Jane Lynch's spot-on portrayal of her in the reading of '8' if I'm ever nostalgic or flagellant.

    Posted by: Marcus | Mar 9, 2013 2:27:39 PM


  16. You're a jinx, Kevin Mims.

    Posted by: Firestorm | Mar 9, 2013 5:51:40 PM


  17. Bobbyjoe: I listened to Ender's Game as an audiobook a few years ago and two questions were in my mind after finishing it: why is this book seen as a sci-fi classic, and is the writer a pedophile. Writing about kids doesn't make you a pedophile, of course, but there was something about Ender's Game that brought that to my mind, but maybe I was just trying to figure out why did he even write the book, which I didn't like that much. I had no idea of Card's hate on gays at the time.

    BTW, Card seems to be a mormon, not a catholic, so that might partly explain his violent homophobia. To make him even more likable in our eyes he, according to Wikipedia, also serves as a judge in the Scientology funded sci-fi book awards that Hubbard started.

    In a way I appreciate him for passionately doing stuff he loves but his gay-hate does really make you wonder what's behind it.

    Posted by: kode | Mar 9, 2013 8:46:26 PM


  18. Plenty of practicing Catholics are gay supportive. I'm not a big fan of religion in general, but Mags and Card are their own worst enemies on this.

    Posted by: David R. | Mar 9, 2013 11:12:04 PM


  19. Florid prose can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

    Posted by: FFS | Mar 10, 2013 12:28:08 AM


  20. Maggie doesn't do it for fun. She does it for the money. Which makes it even worse. That "bright eyed little girl" became a heinous, monstrous adult.

    Posted by: ChrisQ | Mar 11, 2013 8:27:25 AM


  21. Maggies Catholic, she learned her hatred of gayf rom the same church that hated Jews for a millenia, resulting in the holocaust and the election of a madman catholicc named hitler

    Here is the history of the wests' version of Extremist islam

    Gays are just their latest victim of teir power mongering.

    http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm

    Posted by: billy wingartenson | Jul 22, 2013 3:00:23 PM


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