Residents of a small California town are calling for Vice Mayor Ted Hickman to be recalled after referring to LGBTQ people as “faries” (sic) and “tinker bells” in a column calling for Straight Pride Month.
In an op-ed published Friday in Dixon’s Independent Voice, the vice mayor declared July to be “SPAM,” or “Straight Pride American Month.”
Hickman claimed that he does support “the rights of grown men to wear skin-tight short-shorts and go-go boots” but believes that straight people deserve an annual holiday to celebrate being “healthy, heterosexual, fairly monogamous, [and keeping] our kinky stuff to ourselves.”
“We do it with our parades in every state and county in this country with families celebrating together,” he wrote. “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.”
Hickman added that Straight Pride recognizes that heterosexuals are simply “different” from LGBTQ people.
“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 fairies and prancing by the thousands in a parade in nearby San Francisco to be televised all over the world,” he continued.
Hickman noted that while he cannot issue an official proclamation commemorating July as “Straight Pride Month,” he added, “What the heck.”
Residents of Dixon, which is approximately 20 miles southwest of Sacramento, immediately called for the vice mayor’s removal from office after the column was published. Despite having a population of less than 20,000 people, more than 900 people have joined a “Recall Ted Hickman” Facebook page proclaiming that “bigotry has no place in public office in the State of California.”
Critics plan to protest the next Dixon City Council meeting on July 10 and LGBTQ groups are planning Dixon’s first Pride event on July 28 in response to Dixon’s comments. Over 100 people have marked “attending” on Facebook.
Equality California, the state’s leading LGBTQ group, plans to support their efforts. In a statement calling for Hickman to “resign immediately, Executive Director Rick Zbur claimed that “hate and intolerance are alive and well in fringe politicians like Mr. Hickman who spew hateful rhetoric in an attempt to dehumanize members of our LGBTQ community.”
“Mr. Hickman’s words have no place in our society—especially at a time when our nation is already so divided and studies show hate crimes are on the rise,” he said in a statement.
“The First Amendment protects Mr. Hickman’s right to make inflammatory, hateful remarks about members of the LGBTQ community, and he is certainly entitled to his opinion,” Zbur continued. “But he’s not entitled to serve in elected office and the very same Amendment protects the rights of Dixon residents and pro-equality Californians to stand up and demand accountability. That’s what we intend to do.”
But despite fellow city council members calling Hickman’s comments “deeply disturbing,” the conservative is not backing down.
In a Saturday phone interview with The Sacramento Bee, Hickman claimed his remarks were “tongue-in-cheek” and alleged that only “thin-skinned people took offense” to the column, which he has been publishing intermittently in the Independent Voice since the 1960s. The column is entitled “That’s Life.”
“I do represent them equally on government issues, not their personal habits,” he added in a separate interview with the Vacaville Reporter. “I’m not elected to represent their lifestyle.”
Hickman noted it’s improbable he will get recalled because “the numbers aren’t there.”
Mayor Thom Bogue affirmed in a statement that he believes “in a person’s freedom of speech even when [he doesn’t] like what they are saying” but signaled he would support any action to remove Hickman from office.
“[A] person also has to recognize the consequences of their statements,” Bogue claimed. “It is not within my capabilities to sanction an elected official for what they wish to publish in the paper, nor would I, that is up to constituents within his district to determine if he represents their beliefs.”
Hickman is up for reelection in November.