Poor old Jerry Falwell. The man who outed Tinky Winky, said that Martin Luther King Jr. was insincere, and sold video of the Folsom Street Fair to raise money from horrified Christian conservatives is dead.
Back in the '80s, the magazine I worked for sent me to spend 10 days undercover at lovely Heritage USA, the theme park/resort owned by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. They were loathsome themselves -- Tammy's movie includes a lot of fiction. I wrote the original story that started their downfall.
I was reassigned shortly thereafter to Heritage when Jerry Falwell volunteered to steward it after Jim's sex scandal (Jessica Hahn) broke. Falwell then went about the business of taking over the Bakkers' ministry and when Jim complained, Jerry began calling him a fag in public.
I interviewed him twice. I thought he was the most arrogant, smugly hateful religious leader I'd ever interviewed. He despised homosexuality and constantly exploited homophobia to enrich himself and enlarge his following. He was utterly cruel.
Even still, I find something untoward about taking pleasure in his death. I felt equally uneasy when Saddam's hanging, replete with laughter and cheers, was broadcast.
Maybe it's superstition -- the way the monster always comes back after he's slain in the movies. Maybe it's just acknowledgment that no matter how we lived our lives, we're all going to meet the same fate. I watched many dozens of friends die at the peak of the AIDS epidemic. My mother, with whom I had a very conflicted relationship, died a year ago.
Death reverses everything. If you watch someone die, it's like watching your consciousness become differentiated from nothingness: Your own sense of aliveness quickens. I guess that's something of what comes to me with Falwell's death -- the sense that love, even gay love, outlives hate.
Then again, I told my partner I might dress up like Tinky Winky tomorrow.