Sunday, March 14, 2010

Then they came for me

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

The they came for the Catholics.
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

So said, Pastor Martin Niemöller referring to the inactivity of German intellectuals when faced with Nazi purges of unacceptable groups, as they saw them, in society. He did not mention, as far as I know, the gay men who were sent for extermination, the second largest group after the Jews, I read sometime in the 1980s - a fact, if fact it is, that seems to have slipped from memory.

As a community, if community we are, gay men survived extermination by AIDS, though many of the tribe did not, in the 1980s and 1990s. We survive even that evil justification for persecution - that we of all mankind have a choice of who we are. We survive even the way that our lives are forcibly hidden behind the word inappropriate. We survive despite the way our lives and careers are wiped from history. We survive, despite the fact that the Constitution has been deemed not to apply to us in terms of civil rights in some states. We survive, despite.

To understand man's inhumanity to man go here and look at the happy crowd surrounding the two lovers.

Also, read Little Augury's moving post here.


  1. Your Niemoller reference is apt, since Malawi's respectable citizens have a long history of looking the other way while their government brands as 'dangerous' and throws into prison groups that pose no threat to anybody.In the eighties, it was Jehovahs' Witnesses. Now it's gay couples. The problem isn't just the laws or the ruling party. It's a populace whose silence shows its approval of such tactics. I don't know how you change that.

  2. I will write to them. Interested parties should also write to the British High Commissioner in Malawi:
    Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet,
    The High Commissioner,
    British High Commission
    PO Box 30042
    Lilongwe 3

    Telephone: (265) (1) 772 400
    Fax:(265) (1) 772 657

    (although fax and telephone lines are currently not working).

    It is indeed sad that this sort of discrimination persists, but not altogether surprising. Well done for writing about it.

  3. Blue- I feel fortunate to have grown up in the tolerant environment of the San Francisco Bay Area and am saddened that the whole state does not have an open heart and mind. Kendra

  4. Your words are poetic,honest & finely balanced.
    I have lost these men, been privileged to learn from them and simply appreciate the love that is shown one another. We all should be so lucky. I will write them and forward that along to friends. gaye

  5. Anonymous, Kendra, Columnist, Little Augury - thank you. The photo on Band of Thebes is heartrending and I'm at a loss ....

  6. I will never understand why the world continues to act so violently towards those who simply want the space to love each other.

  7. Neither shall I, Janet, neither shall I, but it does and often in the name of the deity.

  8. Those Niemoller words made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So appropriate in these days of rising intolerance. And the photo of the rejected handcuffed Malawi lovers brought tears to my eyes.

  9. Unfortunately, Rose, bread and circuses are what rule. I cannot get the image of that laughing face to the right and behind the lovers out of my mind. That such joy is taken in another's degredation .....