William Dannemeyer, who spent 14 years in Congress undermining LGBTI rights and protections, has passed away. He was 89 years old. He served in Congress from 1979 to 1993.
Who was William Dannemeyer?
During his seven terms as a conservative Representative from Orange County, California, he regularly referred to gay people as ‘militant homosexuals.’ He described being gay as a ‘alternative lifestyle’ and even a ‘game plan.’
In 1989, Dannemeyer reached the peak of his homophobia when he added a statement titled ‘What Homosexuals Do’ into the Congressional Record.
‘Militant homosexuals do not want you to know of the behavior that defines their existence,’ he said. ‘They do not want you to know that the average homosexual has homosexual sex two or three times per week.’
He went on to discuss what the ‘average homosexual’ did during sexual intercourse, describing the acts of ‘repetitive anal penetration,’ ‘golden showers,’ ‘rimming,’ and ‘using what are euphemistically termed “toys” such as one man inserting dildos, certain vegetables, or light bulbs up another man’s rectum.’
Dannemeyer claimed he needed to expose these practices due to his belief that ‘militant homosexuals cringe at the thought of what these graphic images mean in the minds of most Americans.’
Dannemeyer’s remarks did not go over well with his Democratic peers. However, he dismissed the criticism and instead doubled down on his bigotry.
‘I will respect the sensitivities of some of my colleagues concerning the sexual activities of the average male homosexual,’ he stated. ‘Let it suffice to say that a bit of reflection will lead a person to recognize that even the lowliest of animals do not wittingly conduct themselves in such a manner.’
Dannemeyer’s tenure in Congress aligned with the height of the AIDS epidemic. He fed on this fear and paranoia in order to propose measures that would criminalize people who contracted HIV. These suggestions included quarantining people with HIV and proposing that nurses should not have to care for HIV+ children.
His proposals were often based on unfounded conspiracies about what caused the virus. He believed that HIV+ people were emitting ‘spores’ into the air that would spread the disease through non-sexual contact.
In 1989, Dannemeyer even published a book called Shadow in the Land: Homosexuality in America. In the book, he argued that rising LGBTI rights would ‘…plunge our people and, indeed, the entire West into a dark night of the soul that could last for hundreds of years.’
When he was called a homophobe, he responded with, ‘Why are you a heterophobe? What do you fear with the normal?’
‘I have no intention of apologizing for affirming the heterosexual ethic,’ he added.
While Dannemeyer is largely a relic of the past, his ideologies still seep into today’s government. For instance, with Robert Redfield as the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).