By Timothy Long
(Knight-Rider) Gaffney, S.C. — Civil War reenactments are commonplace throughout the South, but the recent reenactment held at the Cowpens Battlefield in Gaffney was different from those of yesteryear. While the sidelines of the mock battle were quite typically lined with onlookers waving Confederate flags, merchants hawking discredited anti-Semitic texts, and Honda generator survivalists warning the masses about the coming zombie race war, the individuals participating in the reenactment were decidedly atypical.
Some were white. Some were black. But all of them were gay. “Just because we’re men who love other men doesn’t mean we don’t want to honor the sacrifices of our forefathers,” says Gen. Niles Shandy, founder of the Gay Sons of the Confederacy (GSOC). “Who are the Sons of the Confederacy to say that we can’t honor these soldiers in any way we see fit?”
However, some members of the Sons of the Confederacy (SOC) believe that the Gay Sons are, in all actuality, dishonoring those very soldiers. “I’m not going to say that these men don’t have a right to show their support for the brave men who perished on the field of battle at places like Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, and Appomattox, but I think what they are doing here today is a disgrace,” says SOC member Dan Heusen. “Wearing leather chaps and G-strings is no way to honor the dead.”
He adds, “Nathan Bedford Forrest wouldn’t put up with this monkey business and we shouldn’t either.”
Not true, says GSOC member Sasha Sparkle. “My ancestors died on this very battlefield, and if I want to pay my respects, then I have every right, as an American, to do that.” Sparkle, who refused to reveal her real name, adds, “And if I choose to sheath my saber in a lace scabbard, so be it.”
But not only did Sparkle brandish such frilly accoutrements, she also wore a green evening gown straight out of the Old South. “It’s no secret,” she says, “but I’ve always wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara. This was my chance. ”
She adds, “Thanks to my ancestors, I’m finally able to live out my dreams.
Other members of the GSOC also wore seemingly non-traditional uniforms, such as Randall Warring, clad only in a pair of Confederate-inspired bikini briefs. “It looks good doesn’t it?” Warring asks. “I always knew those afternoons doing needlepoint with grandma would pay off.”
Aside from the non-traditional garb of the GSOC, it was the event’s festive atmosphere — including loud music and alcoholic beverages — that drew the ire of the crowd. “They’ve taken what is supposed to be a solemn occasion, and they’ve turned it into a disco,” says Mary Beth Masterson, pointing back at the tower of speakers emitting a continuous thump, thump, thump. “Listen to that racket. You can feel it in your bones. General Lee is surely rolling over in his grave.”
Although the men and women of the GSOC were subjected to threats and catcalls from the protesters, violence did not break out due, in large part, to the efforts of the event’s coordinator and a private security team whose numbers reached an estimated 127 people.
“Yeah, I think it went off better than expected,” says Wyatt Duvall, president of Diversified Solutions, Inc. “We knew the event was going to pull in some protestors and things could get ugly fast. But, damn, if this isn’t the loveliest gathering of larpers ever.”
Duvall says that approximately $35,000 was raised for homeless gay teens, through ticket sales and live webcam access. “The men and women of Diversified Solutions, Inc., do whatever we can, however small, to help our fellow man,” Duvall says. “And if it means throwing a party in honor of those who fought to preserve slavery, so be it.”