Me: (Speaking into cameraphone) Testing, testing, one, two, three. Good morning, everyone! Today, I’m broadcasting from the Shady Acres Nursing Home, where I’m joined by Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, and Franklin Graham — former movers-and-shakers in America’s right-wing political movement.
Maggie Gallagher: Ha! Remember that? More like a bowel movement! …I kid, I kid. Go on, Robert.
Maggie: Richard, Robert, Ronald, Rasputin. Just make with the yakkity-yak. Yahtzee starts in half an hour.
Me: …On this day, thirty years ago, my three guests converged on Washington, D.C. for the Supreme Court’s hearing on same-sex marriage. In newspapers, in emails, on television, on the radio, they spoke out against marriage equality and encouraged others to do the same. Tell me, what did you hope to achieve that day?
Franklin Graham: First, I’d like to say thank you for having me, Richard, and second, let me just point out that none of us ever condemned the LGBT community.
Me: Uh, I’m pretty sure you did.
Franklin: Not me.
Me: You repeatedly said that we were “damned to hell”, which is basically the most straightforward condemnation I can imagine. “You’re damned to hell” is, like, synonymous with condemnation.
Franklin: Look, let’s not quibble over what words may or may not mean. The important thing is, we were there in D.C. as an act of love. We were fighting for your rights.
Me: I, um. What?
Franklin: Now son, you know that no movement can progress without an enemy. You’ve got to have something to rally against — terrorism, immigrants, Madonna. Not the new, mixed-martial-arts champion Madonna, but the old pop Whore of Babylon Madonna.
Me: She always did like a transformation.
Franklin. My point is, no matter how strong your case, you can’t just argue for something, you’ve got to argue against something, too. We were there so you’d have something to attack.
Maggie: That’s utter bullpuckey, Franklin. We were there because we thought that what we were doing was right. (To me) Don’t believe a word of that “topping from the bottom” crap Frankie’s feeding you. We were wrong. We knew it then, and we know it now. Is that what you want to hear? Pass the tequila.
Me: (Passing her a half-full bottle of well-brand hooch from the dorm fridge at my feet) I don’t want to hear anything, really. I just want to know —
Tony Perkins: (Entering) Sorry I’m late. I tell y’all what, even on GPS autopilot, Super Shuttle still manages to get stuck in traffic. How those people stay in business, I’ll never know. How’s my blush? I put it on in the car.
Me: I’m sorry, Tony, I didn’t know you were joining us. We would’ve waited.
Tony: No worries, no worries. I just got back into town an hour ago. You know I’m on my “Apology Tour”, right? Did they tell you about that?
Franklin: No, we hadn’t gotten to that yet.
Tony: Well, I kicked things off last night in San Francisco. It was hard finding the gays, though. Back in the day, they had what they called “gayborhoods”. Or that’s what y’all called them anyway, I think. You could go to Castro Street or Christopher Street or Commercial Street and round up a whole mess of queens. Not anymore. Y’all are everywhere now.
Me: We always were. But what’s this “Apology Tour”?
Tony: Oh, right! Well, you know how George Wallace, before he died, he went around, apologizing to all the blacks for being such a racist?
Maggie: A brilliant strategy. Worked like a charm.
Tony: I know you’re being sarcastic, Maggie, but it did work — and it’ll work even better for me because I’ve got more charm than Wallace ever did. Ooh, he was an ugly so-and-so.
Franklin: Please, Tony. You’ve got less charisma than a cross-eyed half-orc assassin on a three-day bender.
Tony: William Franklin Graham the third, would you please ix-nay on the eeday and eeday? This man has a camera, and I have a reputation to uphold. (Back to me, smoothing down his hair and checking his image in the monitor) Anyway, Wallace apologized to the blacks, and I’m doing the same for gays.
Me: You’re apologizing to the gays for being a racist?
Tony: Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s not go crazy. I’m just apologizing for being homophobic. I mean, I have gays in my own family. Daddy’s side has a quarter-cup of sugar in it, if you know what I mean.
Me: So, how’s that working out for you — the tour, that is?
Tony: When I find a bunch of gays, I’ll let you know. Where do y’all hang out these days, anyway? I checked all the places we used to know about: Starbucks, Ikea, Warby Parker. Nothing. I sat for an hour in a stall at the airport men’s room and came up empty-handed.
Maggie: Yeah, right. (Burps) Excuse me. You got any limes around here? Who wants a shot?
Me: Mr. Brown, you’ve been awfully quiet. Do you have something you’d like to share?
Brian Brown: I’m sorry. I was just thinking of my good friend, Bryan Fischer.
Maggie: Brian, sweetheart. Honeykins. Cookiepuss. Cut the act. (Burps again)
Brian: (Pauses, sighs) You’re right, Mags. What I mean to say is that I was just thinking of my former lover, Bryan Fischer. I wish he were here with us today.
Franklin: Ain’t that the truth? That man was more fun than a bushel of possums in a Cheez Whiz factory. This one time, over in Eureka Springs, we were having a big weekend blowout — just the guys — and we’d been sitting in the hot tub for probably 15 minutes when someone asked, “Where’s the B-Man?”
Tony: I said that!
Franklin: And Brian over here just looked down at the water kinda sly-like, and I saw the top of a snorkel poking out from behind a floating beer coozie. We had some fun that night, I tell you what.
Maggie: Brian and Bryan. Classic. That’s the one problem I still have with same-sex couples: telling them apart. (Pointing at Brian) I worked with this guy for years, and I’d still get him and Bryan mixed up. I mean, sleep with who you want, marry who you want, but could you at least shack up with someone with a different name? It’s like camouflage.
Me: I’m sorry, Brian, I didn’t know that Mr. Fischer had passed.
Brian: Oh he’s not dead. He left me for a rent boy in Tijuana. Bryan always told me that his left eye was made of glass, but I guess that’s not why it was wandering. (Sobs uncontrollably)
Me: And that’s about all the time we have today, folks. Next week, I’ll be speaking to a former teen queen. Will it be Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, or Vanessa Hudgens? I don’t know, I can’t tell them apart. See you then…