“I’ve Been Treated So Wrong
I’ve Been Treated So Long
As If I’m Becoming Untouchable
I’m a Slow Dying Flower in the Frost Killing Hour
Sweet Turning Sour
—–Natalie Merchant, My Skin
Not long ago, a good friend of mine here in California asked for my advice. He cares for a disabled partner and was applying for some government benefits that would help them make ends meet. Could I, he wondered, point them in the direction of any advocacy groups that might help them. I don’t think my initial response was quite what he expected.
“Stay away from gay organizations,” I told him. “They won’t help you. They’ll go out of their way to make sure no one else helps you. They’ll make fun of his illness. And then they’ll tell you how homophobic you are.”
Readers of this story might wonder whatever possessed me, a gay man out since the mid-1970s, to make such a statement. It’s not something I would have told my friend when I lived in Tel Aviv, where I resided for part of the 1990s. In Tel Aviv, and in Israel as a whole, I had a decidedly different view of gay activism and gay advocacy groups. In Tel Aviv, I felt welcomed and embraced by the LGBT community. I felt that these were people who had my back and that I wasn’t alone. In fact I greatly regret having left Tel Aviv and yearn to move back.
At this point, the only thing keeping me in the USA is a lack of funds. I’m already an Israeli citizen and therefore don’t qualify for Aaliyah (returning Jew) benefits. I also don’t have the money it would take to move back on my own dime.
I live in hope that one day, while I’m still young enough to enjoy it, I’ll be able to move back to Tel Aviv, the one city on Earth that truly feels like home to me. I wish I could tell you that Zionism fuels this desire, but it does not. The primary reason I want to return to Tel Aviv is to get away from the atrocious conduct of gay activists in the USA.
Let me paint a picture for you of what gay life is like in the USA, where you, as a gay /LGBT person are bombarded with hate on a daily basis. The hate comes from the anti-gay and the gay alike. It’s relentless on both counts. It never lets up.
In December 2010 I came within 48 hours of committing suicide. It was the hate and abuse I was subjected to from within the LGBT community that left me feeling so much hopeless despair that I was ready to end my life.
In 2008, Kathryn and Stephen Polich, an anti-gay, anti-Semetic couple who live in Surprise Arizona, took out a restraining order against me. Mrs. Polich then proceeded to harass and provoke me while the Order of Protection was in effect. They targeted me because I’m gay and Jewish. I don’t actually know the Polich family, and I’ve never lived in Arizona.
After asking Judge Gerald Williams of the North Valley Justice Court in Surprise to protect her from me, Kathryn Jarvis Polich, who sometimes uses the name Kathryn Rock, sent me emails telling me that I was “an emasculated Jewish bitch” and “an ignorant Zionist fool.” I saved copies of these emails. I attempted to inform Judge William’s office of how Mrs. Polich was behaving. The Judge assured me that he would do nothing about it. Judge Williams is a leader of the Arizona Tea Party: http://arizonateaparty.ning.com/events/north-phoenix-tea-party-11 . The Tea Party is notorious for its right wing, conservative, political agenda, which often includes speaking out against gay rights issues.
I then turned to gay activists, and gay advocacy groups, and asked for their help in resolving this. Most gay activists responded by making fun of me. Some of this was done quite publicly, which encouraged Mrs. Polich to escalate her abuse toward me.
Everywhere I turned in the gay / queer / LGBT community, I was ignored, laughed at, or told that I was unworthy of support. The treatment I was subjected to was so horrendous that at one point I seriously wondered if I had actually contacted gay activists and LGBT advocacy groups. Might I have contacted hate groups in error? But no, these were indeed LGBT advocacy groups, and this is how they respond to the people who need them.
Gay religious organizations were no better. Since Stephen and Kathryn Polich live in the Phoenix area, I contacted MCC Phoenix, an LGBT Christian congregation. They told me that as I was neither a member of their congregation or a Christian they couldn’t help me. I was ignored by MCC San Francisco and by the lesbian Rabbis at Congregation Shaar Zahav and Temple Emmanuel in San Francisco, as well as by several gay pastors at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, which claims to be an “inclusive” church.
Appalled that LGBT houses of worship were run by such uncaring, apathetic people, I contact Soulforce, a national outreach and advocacy group for LGBT Christians. They ignored me as well.
For a brief period I was involved with Marriage Equality USA, but left that organization after my story was met with responses like “get over it” and “I’m too busy to deal with you.”
No one would listed, no one cared, even as Kathryn Polich escalated her attempts to provoke a response out of me so she could tell Judge Williams that I had disobeyed his restraining order.
I fell into a deep depression. I couldn’t understand why I was being subjected to so much hate from people I’d done nothing wrong too. As this was coming from the gay and the anti-gay, I felt like I had nowhere to turn and nothing to live for. I began telling people that I was feeling suicidal. To this day, “no one cares, get over it” is the primary response I get from gay activists. This is the opposite of how I was treated by the LGBT community in Tel Aviv, where I was warmly embraced.
After more than a year of this, Carl Szulczynski, http://chazonator.blogspot.com/ , a gay rights blogger and former DJ on Chicago radio stepped up to the plate to defend me. Gay activists responded to Carl by ridiculing his past as a homeless, bisexual identified teen. Carl introduced me to Kyle, a young gay men with a speech impediment. Gay activists had made fun of Kyle’s voice on a radio chat show.
A definite pattern of conduct was emerging.
By their own admission, gay activists treated us this way because they’re gay, which they claim justifies everything they do.
“Today’s teens have too few outlets to express their sexual identity,” Szulczynski told me. “And too many self-righteous activists who take advantage of their cause. The streets made a hard living for me. I was forced into prostitution to survive. I blogged about the experience a few years ago, only to be ridiculed by the founder of a charitable gay organization on a far-right Christian website he had been actively participating on. I’ve since discovered that far too many ‘equality’ activists are either in it for the money or the attention. Selling T shirts doesn’t solve anything. Saying ‘it gets better’ doesn’t make it better. We all have to do our part to make it better.”
“How we treat others is often a reflection of what we think of ourselves,” Szulczynski added. “It seems these gay organizations are run by self-loathing, insecure people who can’t admit when they’re wrong.”
In the Fall of 2008 I was contacted by Niki D’Andrea, a writer for Phoenix New Times, a weekly publication in Arizona that claims to be liberal and pro-gay. D’Andrea told me that she had heard my story and that she was interested in the civil rights issues it raised. I answered D’Andrea’s questions openly and honestly, and told her I would forward copies of the anti-Semitic slurs sent to me by Kathryn Polich. D’Andrea said she would wait to receive these items before writing her story.
Barely 10 minutes later, this story appeared at the New Times blog section: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2008/09/despite_a_gag_order_sf_blogger.php
A few days later, D’Andrea wrote a follow-up story without informing me of her intention to do so: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2008/09/the_maricopa_county_justice_co.php
Note that in her second story, D’Andrea made an issue out of my past conflict with Rainbow Grocery, an organic health food store in San Francisco with a long, well documented history of conflict with the Bay Area Jewish community. D’Andrea made no mention of that history, which is easy enough to find: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/19000/jews-mobilize-to-picket-rainbow-grocery-on-sunday/
I was stunned by D’Andrea’s use of the Rainbow incident, as she hadn’t asked me about this, nor had I brought it up to her.
As a point of reference, in October 2011 I received an email from Amilcar Garcia, a Rainbow Grocery employee with whom I had no previous contact. Garcia begins his email with the words “OK, Super-Jew”, a phrase he repeats later in the email. When informed of this, Niki D’Andrea stood by the stories she had written about me. I still have Garcia’s email on file, which stands as a typical example of how those who accuse me of stalking and harassment have behaved (please refer to Phoenix New Times links above).
Based on what she did and didn’t write about, it’s reasonable to assume why D’Andrea wrote those stories about me: to provoke hostilities between my former partner and I, who was then living with Kathryn and Stephen Polich as a nanny to their toddler, and to inflame as much anti-Semetic hate against me as she possibly could. Niki D’Andrea wanted to hurt and humiliate a Jew.
While D’Andrea denies being anti-Semetic, she informed me that she had intentionally ignored pertinent documentation which proved that Mr. and Mrs. Polich were indeed harassing me. She admitted that she had written both stories specifically to prevent me from getting support.
“My editor [Rick Barrs] and I agreed to ignore your documentation,” D’Andrea told me over the phone. “But I’m an out lesbian, which makes it OK.”
More than anything I’d heard, her statement personifies how LGBT people in the USA are treated by the activists, writers, and organizations who claim to speak for them. D’Andrea felt confident that she’d get away with her behavior because this kind of conduct is actively supported and protected by mainstream gay activists and the advocacy groups with whom they work.
On March 11, 2011, Brewz Train, captain of the Phoenix Rattlesnakes, a men’s roller derby team, recounted his own experience with Niki D’Andrea. As she had done to me, D’Andrea wrote a sarcastic hit piece that had only a peripheral connection to reality. Train’s blog post: http://www.phxderby.com/a-word-from-the-captain-of-the-phoenix-rattleskates/ . Here’s the story D’Andrea wrote about Train’s team:http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/jackalope/2011/03/five_reasons_we_dont_need_mens.php
At that one story alone, there are more than 125 posted complaints regarding D’Andrea’s unethical conduct.
In November 2010, more than two years after D’Andrea’s stories had been published, Kathryn Polich began harassing my friend Carl Szulczynski. I finally called the Surprise, Arizona Police Department. Officer Michael King, much to my surprise and delight, was supportive and helpful. He visited the Polich household, where he was able to verify that I was indeed being harassed. For a few weeks, I felt relieved and confident that Officer King had put a stop to this nightmare. However, a month later, Kathryn Polich created a short video about me and posted it on YouTube. Once again, Officer King stepped in to assist me. He agreed that the video was so inflammatory it could have endangered my life. The video, which was linked to online blog comments in which I was impersonated, was deleted from YouTube during Officer King’s second visit to the Polich home. Before the deletion, I burned copies of the video in case I needed them for future legal actions.
A few weeks later, Officer King’s colleague, Detective Jalbert, visited the Polich home and questioned the entire household. He assured me that I would not be bothered again. Though he didn’t actually admit it, I was left with the impression that the detective had threatened them if they didn’t stop. At last, after nearly three years of this, it was over.
There was one final attempt at receiving justice on my part. Based on Judge Gerald William’s intentional enabling of Kathryn and Stephen Polich’s behavior, I filed a complaint against him with the Arizona Commission of Judicial Conduct. The commission received copies of the anti-Semitic slurs sent by Kathryn Polich, as well as a copy of the You Tube video. They ignored this evidence and dismissed my complaint without conducting an investigation of any kind. I was told by George A. Riemer, Executive Director of the Commission, that he saw nothing wrong with the way I was treated by Judge Williams, and that the judge was well within his rights to ignore documentation. When I asked Riemer to justify this by giving me an official statement for this story, he shouted me down and hung up the phone. Like Judge Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Polich and Niki D’Andrea, George A. Riemer apparently sees nothing wrong with subjecting a person to anti-semitic hate.
I then contacted the Arizona State Attorney General’s office to inquire into the legalities of the Judge’s behavior, as well as Riemer’s. I had initially wanted to include that information in this story. I found a supportive voice who dropped quite a bombshell: the moment Kathryn Polich, AKA Kathryn Rock, subjected me to language like “you emasculated Jewish bitch,” her actions became a hate crime. The fact that a sitting judge knowingly used his bench to enable such conduct made what was done to me a violation of federal civil rights laws. I was advised to file a complaint against my tormenters with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI). Named in the complaint I filed through the FBI website on August 27, 2012 were Kathryn and Stephen Polich, Niki D’Andrea, Judge Gerald Williams, and George A. Riemer. Whether the FBI acts remains to be seen, but the complaint will remain in their file forever. If anyone else ever files a complaint against these bastards, my complaint will come up and help to establish their patterns of behavior.
I sit here now, staring at those words: “You emasculated Jewish bitch.” Are Jews who live in Arizona being treated this way, I wondered?
As I look back on this nightmare, nothing hurts quite as much as the manner in which LGBT activists and advocacy groups treated me. My heart goes out to the thousands and thousands of decent LGBT people in Arizona who aren’t activists, and don’t work at advocacy groups, and who would never advocate hate of any kind. The abuse I endured represents how many of them are forced to live their lives.
The last thing they need is to be thrown under the bus by treacherous hatemongers from within their own community.
In part two of this story, I’ll report on how out-of-control abuse and hate is perpetrated by mainstream gay activists and advocacy groups. This will include quotes from other LGBT people I’ve interviewed who were treated as badly, and sometimes worse, than I was when they needed help.
Be on the lookout for It’s Not Homophobic to Tell the Truth, coming in a few weeks.
“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
—–Peter Finch, Network