AFTAH President Argues Airport Security Too Sexy for Gay TSA Agents

PAT-DOWNS:

According to a statement from Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), gay Transportation Security Administration agents should not be assigned to pat down travelers “to avoid being put in sexually compromising situations.”

LaBarbera was responding to a recent statement by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in which she stressed pat-downs would be performed by members of the same gender. In USA Today, Napolitano wrote, “Pat-downs have long been one of the many security measures used by the U.S. and countries across the world to make air travel as secure as possible. They’re conducted by same-gender officers, and all passengers have the right to request private screening and have a traveling companion present during the screening process.”

LeBarbera responded with homophobic comments and fears of groping, as well as casually speculating that if Ellen DeGeneres were to pursue a new career in security, she wouldn’t be assigned to inspect female travelers:

“Isn’t it just as inappropriate for a gay male TSA agent to pat down male travelers as it is for a normal, heterosexual male TSA agent to pat down female travelers? The reality is, most traveling men would not want Barney Frank to pat them down at the airport security checkpoint. Neither would it be fair to assign Ellen DeGeneres to pat down female travelers.”

Due to what Christian Newswire calls a “pro-homosexual Executive Order” and what everyone else calls equal rights, the TSA does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. LaBarbera, however, advocates for “healthy discrimination” and suggests that the TSA “should put conditions on employment for self-acknowledged homosexuals” to avoid “sexually compromising positions.” He argues that this is necessary because otherwise a gay man might be assigned to screen a woman who might think he was straight, and “chaos would ensue.”

In what is perhaps the best part of the article, if by best you mean “place where I stopped reading after being involuntarily blinded with rage,” LeBarbera says that his proposed measures are in fact a means of protecting gay people from discrimination: “To allow homosexual agents to conduct same-gender pat-downs is tantamount to a new form of discrimination that must be recognized and prevented.”

To summarize: LeBarbera is uncomfortable with pat downs because they might be sexual and make people uncomfortable, even though they are routine and either random or requested (as an alternative to the new imaging scanners). Same-gender pat downs make sense, but he says they can only be preformed by straight people, and that this isn’t discrimination, it’s “healthy discrimination,” which will in fact protect gay people from “a new form of discrimination.” This guy is crazy. Here’s what’s actually important about pat-downs, note that it has nothing to do with a. inventing new ways to be homophobic or b. inventing new records for misuse of the word “discrimination”:

There has been a recent spike of interest in airport security and screenings following passenger John Tyner’s refusal to go through a body scanner at the San Diego International Airport on Monday. After being told that instead of the scan, he would have to submit to a pat-down, Tyner said, “We can do that out here, but if you touch my junk I’m going to have you arrested.”

As a result, National Opt Out Day has been organized for November 24. According to a statement from the organizer:

“It’s the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government’s desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an ‘enhanced pat down’ that touches people’s breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, ‘Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.’ The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent. This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.”

A recent poll by CBS found that 81 per cent of respondents do not object to screenings. (@pamshouseblend)

LAW:

Victoria Kolakowski has been elected superior court judge in Alameda County, California, making her the first openly transgender judge in the US.

Kolawski, a patent attorney who has served as an administrative (legislative) judge for the California Public Utilities Commission, won with 51 per cent of the vote against prosecutor John Creighton, who had 48 per cent.

In an interview with The Advocate, Transgender Law Center executive director Masen Davis said, “We are absolutely thrilled that the people of Alameda County have elected Victoria Kolakowski to be their next superior court judge. We’re fortunate that the voters judged Vicky on her merits.” (@advocate)

COMING OUT:

The average coming out age in Britain has dropped significantly in the past 20 years, according to the results of an online poll by Stonewall, a U.K.-based gay charity.

The poll found that lesbian, bisexual, and gay people currently 18 or younger came out at age 15 on average, while those 60 and older came out at 37 on average. The poll was conducted via social media and had 1,536 respondents.

According to Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, the results are encouraging and a sign of an increased need for support for gay students and anti-bullying in the school system. (@feministing)

TINA FEY:

Tina Fey won the Mark Twain Prize, and PBS snipped the following from part of her acceptance speech:

“And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women — except, of course, those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape kit ‘n’ stuff. But for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Unless you’re a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years. Whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know, actually, I take it back. The whole thing’s a disaster.”

According to Peter Kaminsky, a PBS executive producer, the cut was not related to content: “It was not a political decision. We had zero problems with anything she said. […] We took a lot out. We snipped from everyone.”

This is not the first time a Twain recipient has been edited: in 2008, George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” (that you can’t say on television) routine was bleeped out. You can watch her unedited speech here. (@dorthysurrenders)

DADT:

Yesterday evening, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, who is openly gay, appeared on MSNBC to talk about John McCain’s position on DADT. Highlight: “My question to Senator McCain is, what are you afraid of? Why are you defying the Pentagon leadership? Why are you defying the American people? After serving this country so valiantly and with honour, why are you standing in the way of others yearning to do the same thing but who are denied simply because of who they are? Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a shameful policy. Senator McCain should be ashamed of himself for stubbornly standing in the way of its demise.” (@joemygod)

Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 998 articles for us.

36 Comments

  1. I want to write to that woman and tell her that I’m a lesbian and I can’t wait to get patted down by some straight TSA agents with authoritarian voices, but I’m afraid her head might explode.

  2. “Isn’t it just as inappropriate for a gay male TSA agent to pat down male travelers as it is for a normal, heterosexual male TSA agent to pat down female travelers?”

    I’m sorry, normal? Fuck you. That’s all I have to say.

  3. just wanted to say that I had higher expectations from Stonewall UK. I mean, you can’t compare the coming out age of 18 year-olds vs. that of 60 year-olds. There’s no way an 18 year-old who has come out today, has come out at 40. Blimey!

  4. Umm… FYI strait people! Just because someone is attracted to women does NOT mean that she wants EVERY woman; Meaning, I dont want your ugly ass TSA. Unless they have recently hired TSA’s that look along the lines of Angelina Jolie or autostraddles 2011 Ms. Febuary (Kate moennig for some people) they wont have any issues with their ugly ass TSA patting me down.

    “And thats all I have to say about that” – Forrest Gump

  5. I’m a queer woman and I had a brief stint, about a year and a half, as a TSA agent and have done a number of pat downs. Even when I was required to pat down attractive women I was too focused on actually doing my job then thinking about the fact that she’s attractive. And they train you in a very specific way as too avoid things like groping or excessive or inappropriate touching. And honestly if you’re good at your job it doesn’t even cross your mind. It’s just a body with potentially hazardous things attached to it. That’s what you’re focusing on. What DOES make it difficult and awkward is when said attractive woman starts hitting on you. Which happens far more often than you would think. However, in the spirit of honesty I will admit I had my first major FIG moment when patting down an obvious queer woman who was hitting on me. She was GORGEOUS and her sister was watching. It was one of the most uncomfortable and confusing moments of my life to date. That being said, I was good at my job and maintained a professional manner throughout my experience at TSA. I had a flight attendant who would come through multiple times, daily and purposefully set off the alarm so she would be patted down. I know this to be true because she told me “I purposefully set off the alarm too spend time with you”. Obviously, after that, when she came through I would have the more mature in years straight lady pat her down. She stopped coming as often. Plus, I knew and know plenty of queer women who work as TSA agents and they are completely professional and incredibly good at their jobs. What they need to be focusing on is the bigoted higher-ups.

  6. sooo I realize this might be exactly what those dumbasses are afraid of, but this summer I was flying home from Morocco and they had the most gorgeous police officer patting down every woman before we got on the plane, she was like ridiculously gorgeous and since she was the only female police officer I saw in the airport, I’m pretty sure she was there just to do pat downs.

    It was like the Moroccan government knew that I had been deprived all summer and decided to give me a going away present.

  7. Why can’t one who is not gay say they would rather not be grouped by one who is gay.

    It outrageous to imply non-gay’s have no voice in the matter.

    And why would any gay person fault someone for holding this view? Is it homophobic to say you are not gay and would prefer to be with those who are like you?

    I would hope not.

  8. Countries should look at Israel’s airport security model. Physical security checks are not as important as many countries seem to think. In Israel – they don’t ask you take off your shoes – they look in your EYES and ask you questions and follow them up with spontaneous ones if they feel it necessary. A bomber or threat will not be psychologically ready for that. And that’s why it works. One can sort of prepare for ordinary pat-downs etc. that’s physical and they don’t seem to use eye contact when they do it.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199—israelification-high-security-little-bother

    Tina Fey is awesome.

  9. I work in a job where I see/touch naked (often beautiful) women all of the time (Wardrobe), and it’s pretty obvious to look at me that I’m a flaming gaymo. Even though, 99.999% of the time, I am not in the least bit turned on and am just doing my job. Like the TSA agent above mentioned, I don’t even see the body, but am looking at the clothes on the body, how they fit, potential problems, etc. The other 0.0001% of the time, I keep it to myself and continue to act professionally. And that 0.0001% of the time generally occurs when the woman in question is being overtly exhibitionist, whether for my benefit or not is hard to say.

    What is interesting to note, is that in my experience, the majority of the women who have no problem with me seeing them naked, would still rather not be seen by even the most feminine-presenting of homosexual men (of which there are also a good many in my profession). Which leads me to believe that gender trumps sexuality when it comes to these things.

    Granted, I work in a fairly liberal/left leaning profession, but, to the best of my knowledge, my sexuality has never been an issue for anyone I’ve worked with/seen naked. I am not so confident that this would be the case with the general flying public. But, if they have a problem with it, I believe it says more about their own prejudices than about the person patting them down.

    Oh wait! Strike that, I forgot…because we’re gay that automatically means we’re all drooling sex-crazed maniacs, looking for any cheap thrill, with no respect for boundaries or personal space. That’s right, I better get on board with that agenda.

  10. I think all TSA employees should wear color-coded patches on their uniforms indicating ALL their sexual preferences– not just male v. female, but tall v. short, skinny v. fat, muscular v. frail, race and haircut and personal style. Then we can make sure each of us are patted down only by those who find us completely sexually repellent in every way.

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