This November marks the 20th anniversary of the defeat of Oregon Ballot Measure 9, an initiative put forth by the Oregon Citizens Alliance that sought to amend the state constitution to prohibit public schools from “promoting” homosexuality and require all levels of government to teach youth that being gay is “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse.”
Fortunately, the measure was defeated in the Nov. 3, 1992 general election by a margin of 56 to 43 percent. But it didn’t go down without a fight. Local LGBTQ organizations are commemorating that victory Nov. 3 with events at Q Center and canvassing to support the fight for marriage equality in Washington State. Details about the day’s events are available here.
In the Oct./Nov. issue of PQ Monthly, readers shared some of their memories from that time.
“In 1992 I was 21 years old and attending Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. … I had just “officially” come out to my parents and they were STRUGGLING with my homosexuality. … In the midst of all this, Measure 9 was put out on the ballot. What timing! My parents were horrified — they were forced to have to ‘think’ about an issue that now personally affected them. I was horrified — the measure reiterated everything my parents felt and said to me about being gay. It was a punch in the gut. I recall my mom sneaking ‘Yes on 9’ literature in my bag. I remember crying when she did, but I retaliated by putting ‘No on 9’ pamphlets in her purse. It was a silent, but very emotional battle that went on for months.”
– Meighan Holder
“triangle productions! was in the midst of producing “BENT,” a play by Martin Sherman dealing with homosexuals in Nazi Germany during WWII. An amazing time. The documentarians who were doing the doc on Measure 9 came and interviewed the cast and crew. … Also, the Anne Frank Exhibit was here during that time and I would drive up to the theatre and have to clean it off because people would put swastikas on the outside of the theatre and “hate fag notes.”
– Don Horn
“Trust me when I tell you that with each passing day, every one of my friends began to feel the stress that comes from being part of a persecuted, marginalized group. We stood strong but being told we are less than others because of our sexual orientation took its toll. We began to feel hunted in much the same ways my people were hunted in Eastern Europe. It’s difficult to describe how you begin to look over your shoulder, sleep with a weapon close by, get used to being called a dyke or a faggot lover on the street. You never get used to it. It always hurts. Living through Measure 9 was difficult on our psyches.”
– Pauline Miriam