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]