Homophobia among powerful people like politicians is still a real problem for the LGBTQ community. If you think blatant discrimination is an issue of the past, this June 29 column in Dixon’s Independent Voice written by Ted Hickman, vice mayor of the California town, may convince you otherwise. It’s entitled “Don’t Forget July 1, 2018 Starts SPAM…Straight Pride American Month!”
Hickman has been writing his column, That’s Life, since the 1960s. The vice mayor refers to it as his tongue-in-cheek way of using humor to address the issues of the day. Apparently “tongue-in-cheek” is code for “unabashedly offensive.”
Ted Hickman should be ashamed for sharing such an awful message… Dixon, CA needs to do better. A LOT better pic.twitter.com/WzIp5pU80r
— andres (@andrewsaboss) June 30, 2018
The column begins:
Last Sunday ended LGBTQF-WTF month Yea! (*Don’t get me wrong I support the First Amendment, as much as the next person, and support the rights of grown men to wear skin tight short-shorts and go-go boots and don tinker bell wings with wand and prance down the streets of San Francisco) with tens of thousands of folks dancing and prancing all over American celebrating the fact they are different than most of the rest of us and showing their “pride” in being so.
I am severely disappointed that Dixon is the home to Ted Hickman, who writes columns in the local newspaper that are ignorant, disgusting and completely unnecessary.
Dixon this is your Vice Mayor, gross. pic.twitter.com/WgtH6SG2nd
— Nikki Torres (@nikkitorressss) June 30, 2018
In a Saturday interview with the Sacramento Bee, Hickman defended his column, saying “it was tongue-in-cheek and had nothing to do with my elected position.” One passage from the article reads:
Now before anyone gets their pantyhose in a knot, this is not really legally anti anything; instead it’s pro-family; and proud to be a straight American, and me expressing a private opinion… So there! If you remember last week I proclaimed the Month of July as SPAM …(Straight Pride American Month)…(as Vice Mayor don’t know if I can, but what the heck).
The "Vice Mayor" of my hometown, Ted Hickman decided to publish the worst possible take in Dixon's "Independent Voice"
What a POS pic.twitter.com/pqYabMgtSW
— Arthur Barros (@arthurebarros) June 30, 2018
If these are Hickman’s attempts at humor, then his “punchline” is that LGBTQ individuals are strange, different, and mockable. He goes on to celebrate heteronormativity:
Now hundreds of millions of the rest of us can celebrate our month, peaking on July 4th, as healthy, heterosexual, fairly monogamous, keep our kinky stuff to ourselves, Americans… We do it with our parades in every state and county in this country with families celebrating together. We honor our country and our veterans who have made all of this possible (including for the tinker bells) and we can do it with actual real pride, not some put on show just to help our inferior complex “show we are different” type of crap.
— 𝐒𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚 𝐁𝐮𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐭🏳️🌈 (@MTCinCA) July 1, 2018
Dixon repeatedly refers to gay men as “fairies” in the column:
We ARE different from them…We work, have families, (and babies we make) enjoy and love the company (and marriage) of the opposite sex and don’t flaunt our differences dressing up like faries and prancing by the thousands in a parade in nearby San Francisco to be televised all over the world… *And yes, before it becomes an issue, I do believe in faries; I’ve seen them in SF for myself.
In addition to being homophobic and poorly written, the column is not at all funny. This is how it ends:
Let’s see if I can remember the Peter Pan story about believing in faries…oh yeal, so according to “Wikipedia” faries are powered “bypiezoelectric” crystals which can be energized by sound waves like made by clapping. So, right now if you don’t want any faries to expire, you can clap your hands. See, I do have a heart I just can’t type and clap at the same time… so I had to make a hard choice didn’t I?
The fact that this was published in Dixon’s local newspaper as an op-ed piece is repulsive… I honestly have no words. This is coming from our VICE MAYOR, Ted Hickman pic.twitter.com/AV2gYU16a9
— olivia (@littlelivi33) July 1, 2018
Residents are outraged their vice mayor is engaging in such discriminatory behavior. One man, Wyatt Mince, told the Fresno Bee:
It’s a different level of rhetoric that’s not befitting of public officials. People are entitled to their opinion, but he’s a public official and he needs to comport himself a certain way to serve the city.
Ted Hickman does not correctly represent my city. Find somewhere else to spread your hateful, discriminatory, bigoted, homophobic, and irrelevant views
A Dixon, CA resident
— Madelynn Klein Courville (@CalifMack) June 30, 2018
Wyatt Mince and his son, Ray (64), said Hickman’s views were no secret around town. According to Ray:
When I was a small child, he and my father played cribbage together and would get into heated discussion about politics.
But both the Wyatts agreed that a public official shouldn’t be promoting such “outlandish rhetoric.” After the 2015 Supreme Court decision which legalized gay marriage, Mince talked of how Hickman “got on Facebook and started talking about that, and at that point I unfriended him.”
“(And yes, all of those typos appeared in the print edition of his column as well.)”https://t.co/PB5SS6jRdI
— Sophia O'Neal (@SophiaLikes2Run) July 2, 2018
The article’s featured image was a rainbow flag with a line through it.
Almost immediately after the article was published, a Facebook group advocating for Hickman’s resignation was created: “Recall Ted Hickman, Vice Mayor of Dixon, CA,”
Hickman responded to the controversy:
They’re gonna have a recall motion? Let them do it.
The next @CityofDixonCA council meeting is July 10th @ 6pm 600 East A St if you happen to disagree with Vice Mayor Ted Hickman's homophobic rant. We are all the same- Everybody say "LOVE!" #thanksRu #UpBayPride pic.twitter.com/fsykxulydT
— Quinten Voyce (@QuintenVoyce) June 30, 2018
For anyone that wants to go from Winters, I will literally make multiple trips to take y’all. This is the time to come together as a community and have the backs of our LGBTQ+ friends, and to condemn the sick behavior of Ted Hickman, who’s supposed to be REPRESENTING his town. https://t.co/9uOsrxQigh
— sarah🌈 (@scheyenne_00) July 1, 2018
Many people in the Dixon community, particularly young people, believe Hickman’s words were “hateful” and “disgusting,” but they are also not terribly surprised. His That’s Life column is known locally for its insensitive, offensive nature.
Here’s a passage from last month’s edition:
I am proud to be a heterosexual, monogamous, married to the opposite sex, straight individual that knows what goes where and why.
— andres (@andrewsaboss) July 1, 2018
Outside of his work as vice mayor, Hickman is a realtor with Century 21 M&M and Associates.
Hey @CENTURY21 and @c21mm — Are you aware that your agent Ted Hickman in Dixon, CA is publishing this bigoted material in print and on his own website, while also proudly displaying his association with your company?https://t.co/OP5cooS3d1https://t.co/eAjZnwTf3M pic.twitter.com/3ORMg6XGbA
— P A T • L E E (@pat_lee) June 30, 2018