Drawing by child with two mothers (presumably). Photo by Liz Henry
I honestly think that gay rights is the civil rights struggle of my generation. It’s hard, its unpopular, and it effects real people. It is – like the civil rights struggle – about very normal people trying to live very normal and even boring lives in peace. Gay people aren’t asking for anyones first-born and they aren’t looking for recruits. They don’t want to destroy marriage, as much as that even makes sense. When I first met a gay person I thought it would be a radical experience, and I was sorely disappointed. The gay part is totally fucking boring. The only part that makes it interesting is how much they’re discriminated against. Gay people are people first and gay a distant 34th, following nice/mean, smart/dull, kind/cold, and whatever else matters to you in people. Most people who know gay people realize this and they’re not going to insult them to their face. Even most bigots are cool with individual gay people. Which is what gets me the most. They’ll call gay people insane sinners, compare them to pedophiles and murders, deny them marriage and adoption rights, call for them to be committed and then turn around and say it’s nothing personal. Of course it’s personal. Gay people are people. Gay rights are personal rights. Civil rights if you will.
Homophobia and homophobic policies mess with real people. Not some abstract ‘gay person’, this is your cousin, friend or co-worker. You can smile at him/her over dinner, but go home and say that he’s insane or going to hell and deny him the right to become and even more normal and boring person by getting married. Wtf.
On another personal note, I studied in Montreal where being Gay was totally not an issue. Montreal and San Francisco are the two of the most gay friendly cities in the world. I didn’t notice it corrupting the family or destroying society much. There was a gay part of town and the city painted that Metro station with the rainbow colors. I had a gay roommate who was kinda awkward when he moved in, but over time he came out as a very happy and fun guy. One of my close friends is gay and I used to go out to gay clubs with him just for a change of pace. The music was good and the people were cool and they didn’t try to convert or molest me or anything. That’s the extreme of gay culture too, not the stay home and rent a movie majority. Still, they were just totally normal people. Boring even. I honestly didn’t think that much about it.
A bit more impersonally, the only blogger I read every day is Andrew Sullivan – a gay conservative. Actually, scratch that, I also read Pink Is The New Blog for trashy gossip. It must be coincidental that my two daily reads are gay, but they are both good writers and solid people. I find it patently absurd that these people can’t live and love as they please. I find it absurd that their committed relationships can’t end in marriage. Behind all the scientific and moral debate there are very real people with very real lives. I’m not great gay crusader nor do I even claim to understand ‘them’ that much. I just feel really confused to live in a time when their right to live and love is even debated.
We are all surrounded by homosexuality. Everybody has a gay friend, co-worker or relative. We have gay leaders, watch gay people on TV and read gay writers. Gay Gay Gay. People are usually OK with those gay people and very few are going lean across the cubicle and tell their gay colleague that he needs psychiatric help. However, when it comes to some hypothetical ‘gay man’, those same people are quick to spout absolute venom, saying they’re sinners, depraved, disturbed and sick. People will argue to commit gay people to asylums, compare them to drug addicts, murderers, and pedophiles and then turn around and watch ‘Will and Grace’.
This is what I think is so deeply wrong, and that’s why I went off on the ‘True’ Sri Lankan for this post. I feel bad for calling out people who I am apparently one degree of separation away from, but there is a couple on Amazing Race Asia who TSL supports. Which is great. But they are obviously gay. Now in the past TSL has said things like,
Some people who are homosexuals have been abused when they were young that has caused them to turn to homosexual relationships.
It is also believed that homosexuality rises out of a mental imbalance and when treated it can be corrected. Medical Science has not understood how the brain works fully so any treatment is still far away.
Homosexuality is a behavior and a habit like smoking, boozing, drug addiction, etc…
I dislike people who incite hatred towards homosexuals or pass remarks at them, rather they need all our compassion and help to bring them out of this situation so that they can lead normal lives. (Truth Behind Homosexuality)
Personally, I find it terribly offensive to have my gay friends, co-workers and heroes compared to drug addicts, abused children, and the mentally ill. I find it deeply patronizing to say that these adults should ‘get help’, or that they should be committed to institutions. That is bigotry plain and simple, as plain as saying that African Americans are dumb and inferior. What really offends me, however, is the attempt to couch that bigotry in a ‘but I don’t hate homosexuals stance’. That opinion, espoused by many, goes from bigotry to intellectual dishonesty (which I actually dislike more). It’s like saying, ‘I’m going to say that you were raped as a child, have less impulse control than a drug addict and are so insane that you should be committed. Nothing personal.’ I can stand the homophobia (as it’s so common), but to say that it’s nothing personal just makes my blood boil.
Again, I apologize to Sahran and his Amazing Race partner for even bringing them into this, but as public figures it was just an example that’s in my face. It actually made me think of the current issue of Mary Cheney (Dick Cheney’s daughter) and her lesbian partner getting pregnant through whatever artificial method. The same right wing which calls for writing discrimination against gays into the Constitution are totally cool with this one person starting a family. Cause denying civil rights to a group is ‘nothing personal’. Bush is one example,
Jake Tapper ponders some lessons learned from covering the Mary Cheney story. Money quote:
“This is what we got out of the White House when we asked, over and over, if the President, as he declared in 1999, still opposed same sex couples adopting children. Our intrepid White House off-air reporter, Karen Travers, asked if that position still stood.
“When Vice President Cheney told President Bush that his daughter was pregnant, the President congratulated him,” the White House spokesman said. “President Bush is happy for the Cheney family.”
Right. Okay. Travers tried again: does he still oppose same sex adoptions?
“In 2005, the President said he believes the ideal is for a child to be raised by a man and a woman, but children can receive love from gay couples and private adoption firms can make their own decisions,” said the spokesman.
Jake thinks that means Bush is still opposed. I’m not so sure. I don’t think the president has the slightest problem with his veep’s daughter having a committed relationship and having a child. It’s just that he cannot say that in public. Hypocrisy is now hardwired into sustaining the Republican coalition (Andrew Sullivan
Lopez frames the issue as an egregious media seeking who the father is. I see very, very little of this, since almost everyone assumes it’s an anonymous sperm donor. Then the following:
Yes, I think fatherhood is crucial and am opposed to redefining marriage and all the rest. And my “deafening silence” on the Mary Cheney “issue” (what nonsense) doesn’t change that.
But this is absurd. Lopez aggressively favors all efforts to strip the Cheney grandchild of two mothers. Lopez has politicized this family’s personal life, and attacked it viciously. Lopez supported the Virginia state constitutional amendment that will mean that the Cheney grandchild will only ever have one secure parent. Lopez favors adding this terrible insecurity to the Cheney-Poe child’s life. And she wants it not to be personal. Sorry, but it is personal (Andrew Sullivan
But to end on a more positive note, I’d like to congratulate South Africa for recently legalizing gay marriage and Israel for recognizing foreign gay marriages. This means that those nations plus Netherlands, Spain and Canada now recognize gay people as people and gay couples as an important building block of society. Rewarded and supported by marriage. Here’s to very normal, boring, and deeply personally and socially rewarding married lives for gay people in those countries. Here’s also to a future where my children can read about the struggle for gay rights in some textbook and say, ‘Wtf? Was that even an issue?’