The morning of Sept. 25, fliers posted across the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing blared “GAYS SPREAD AIDS.” They bore the insignia of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and invited students to attend a lecture that evening by anti-gay agitator Ryan Sorba entitled “The Born Gay Hoax.”
About 100 MSU students made it to the talk. At least two-thirds were anti-YAF demonstrators who silently protested Sorba’s message by wearing brightly colored “I Have a Story” T-shirts and holding signs aloft throughout Sorba’s 90-minute presentation. One male student’s placard read, “I made out with all the YAF boys.”
Sorba — pictured below with his arm around MSU YAF leader Kyle Bristow (thanks to East Lansing-based journalist Todd Heywood for the photo) — for the most part stuck to a standard anti-gay script of branding homosexuality a degenerate lifestyle “choice” rather than an innate trait, though he deployed a few of his own rather bizarre rhetorical flourishes. “When a male dog mounts another male dog, he simply desires to be stimulated … just as when he slavishly mounts a shrub or your dinner guest’s leg,” Sorba declared. “Would this dog consider himself homosexual? Does he bark with a lisp?”
At one point a majority of the audience erupted in laughter and cheers when Sorba, reading from notes, paused, then abruptly announced, “I wasn’t born gay. I chose it.”
“We accept you, Ryan!” one man called out amidst the tumult.
Sorba, obviously flustered, said: “That didn’t come out right. That was a quote! That was a quote! No, I’m not… .” Then, making a face like he’d sucked on something distasteful, shuddered and exclaimed, “Urgh!”
Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center began listing the MSU chapter of YAF as a hate group — the first time a college student organization has been so designated — based in part on the group’s routine use of venomous homophobic and racist language. Yesterday, the lead item on its website was a criticism of MSU’s decision to begin offering a doctorate in Chicano/Latino studies.
It was headlined, “MSU Offers Doctorate in Savagery.”