Last edited: December 07, 2004

Step Up The Torment of Rolark

Washington Blade, January 24, 1992

By Franklin E. Kameny

In strong disagreement with recent Blade letter writers (Stuart Reges; and Karen Hill, Jan. 10), I enthusiastically endorse Queer Nation’s Christmas caroling action at the home of Councilmember Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8), consider Calvin Rolark’s resort to violence as unjustified, and view as an unexpected dividend the incontrovertibly recorded unveiling of the homophobic bigotry of a public official holding minor appointive office, so that action can be (and, in fact, has now been) initiated to rid us of him.

The action at the Rolark home was "Rolark 2." "Rolark 1" was the demonstration at Wilhelmina Rolark’s District Building office, at which I am proud to have been arrested along with seven others. The goal of both was to persuade Rolark to reverse her publicly-stated intention to take no action to move Bill 9-79 (which would repeal the District’s anti-sodomy law) through the Judiciary Committee of which she is chair, and where it has languished for exactly one year. It is anticipated that there will be "Rolarks 3, 4, 5, etc.," as rapidly and for as long as it is necessary to persuade her to move this legisla1ion. 9-79 will move to enactment!

Rolark has declared war upon Gays. It has been well said that "All’ s fair in love and war." Once that war declaration has occurred, all countermeasures of every possible description are justified. Excluding only acts which are violent to persons or destructive to personal property, absolutely any tactics whatever are justified and we should stop at nothing. At the time of my arrest, I stated, "This is just the beginning. It is our intention to make of Councilmember Rolark’s public and personal life an ongoing, unceasing, never-ending, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week nightmare of increasing intensity, until she moves Bill 9- 79." I stand by that and am pleased to note that others are joining in effecting it, with Queer Nation and OUT! doing yeoman service. While practical considerations might prevent literal achievement of that worthy goal, it remains the nominal aim. 9-79 will move to enactment!

All public officials, in all three branches of government, at every level, are public servants, a phrase which I take absolutely literally, and which makes each one of us their masters. For some 30 years I have said, "One deals with the servants as one deals with little children. When they’re good, well-behaved, and obedient. you praise ‘em and pat ‘em on the head, When they’re bad, ill-behaved, disobedient. and insubordinate, you scold ‘em and (at least figuratively) smack ‘em on the behind."

Rolark is a bad servant who is misbehaving and has been stubbornly and rebelliously disobedient and insubordinate. She is being scolded and "smacked," and that will escalate into a nonstop "spanking" if she does not behave herself. The message is clear: A firestorm of ever-increasing intensity will descend upon the heads of those in the Council who obstruct enactment of this bill. 9-79 will move to enactment!

Reges misperceives the purpose of these actions. They are not taken for the limited, merely self-therapeutic, otherwise useless purpose of giving voice to our protest. They are being taken to achieve actual enactment of Bill 9-79. Up until now we have been fortunate in enjoying the affirmative cooperation of our public officials, but Rolark’s stubbornness has now made resort to these tactics absolute necessity. Reges objects to harassment and tormenting, to confrontation and intimidation, and to punishment of Rolark. Quite to the contrary, those are the names of the game. They should be intensified until she finds the torment beyond endurance and moves the bill.

Never forget that in not moving 9-79 (and its predecessors since about 1984), Rolark is harassing and intimidating every Gay person in Washington, literally on a nonstop basis; she is tormenting and punishing us beyond endurance. 9-79 will move to enactment!

Hill objects to the singing of paraphrased Christmas carols in front of the Rolark home because, in part, they "greatly offended ... Wilhemina Rolark" and allegedly "trashed [her] religion." But offending Rolark is exactly what they hoped to do! The greater the offense the better! The feelings of others, such as Hill, who played no role in the matter, are quite irrelevant. Actually, the paraphrasing was more in the nature of ingenious, robust. delightfully hilarious good humor than anything else. The whole action was absolutely appropriate! There is no way to paraphrase "The Twelve Days of Christmas" which will rationally give religious offense. And Rolark is offending and trashing all D.C. Gays, and therefore everything about her, including her religion, should be trashed to the best of our ability to do so, and should continue to be trashed until she realizes that 9-79 will move to enactment!

I have directed my share of criticism toward Queer Nation, and will continue to do so on a thoughtful basis, when appropriate in my view. But in this instance, they covered themselves with glory. They are significantly contributing to seeing that 9-79 will move to enactment!

I urge that the harassment and torment of Rolark be stepped up. We have put up with her shenanigans for far too long. Years ago, from time to time, on other issues, I informed certain federal government officials that whatever business they accomplished in their offices, none of it would be by telephone, because I would be on their telephone, nonstop, all day every day. It usually worked, and quite quickly. It should be tried with Rolark, at her Council office and the Judiciary Committee (202/ 562-8062, 562-8031), at her home (preferably in the wee hours of the morning, 202/ 562-1712, 562-6507), and at her personal law office (202/ 783-0701). Use your own ingenuity to render Rolark’s official and personal life such a nightmare that she will recognize that it is her duty to move this bill and will decide to do so promptly, and then, 9-79 will move to enactment!

The author is a longtime D.C. Gay activist and founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the group.

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