~Rants in a Minor Key~
By Dave Casker
I saw a cartoon recently that basically said: Ban heterosexual marriage – they’re the ones who keep having homosexual babies!!! And another which focused on divorce rates among heterosexuals – implying that the phrase “traditional marriage” is kind of an Ozzie & Harriett fantasy.
But while I agree with both, and am pretty amused by both, I think that the real key to most “gay” issues is fairly simple.
Don’t confuse “simple” with “easy.”
But the fact is that the more of us who are out and comfortable means that there are x number of people who can’t rationally continue to believe we are somehow “deviant.”
We are their co-workers and neighbors, their sons and daughters, cousins, even parents. We are their college room-mates, the men and women who “have their backs” in combat. We are the cop who investigated the prowler; we are the bank VP who approved the loan, the teacher, the store clerk; we are the kids who play in the street.
I guess my point is that, the more we become a part of the fabric of everyday life, the less likely it is that any more of us will suffer what most of us have – the rejection, the ridicule, the name-calling, jokes and other abuse…. It’s not just about future generations, either. It’s about our own sense of self, of our place in the community, of that genuine fabric of community that some would like to rip us out of.
Each of us, I believe, has an obligation to simply BE who we are. Not just for our own sense of dignity, and that of the gay kids, but for the straight kids. Yes, we do have to think about the straight kids – not to “convert” them, but to let them know that just like different races and different religions and different ethnicities and different economic backgrounds, different sexual orientations are just a normal part of life. And both straight and gay kids need to know that sexuality is not a binary. Boys need to learn that you don’t have to “man up” or “get some balls” according to someone else’s definition in order to be a “real” man.
Yes, you CAN be something other than 100% straight and still be a “real” man. We are starting to witness more and more athletes, male and female, coming out and their teammates basically saying “so what?” – or even “good for you!” We have a male singer who wrote that he was once in love with a guy. He doesn’t say he’s gay. He just says he was once in love with a guy. And that is truly beautiful, because we need a lot more love, and a lot fewer labels. The REAL world is not either/or: It’s not black or white, gay or straight, conservative or liberal. The real world is wonderfully messy.
There are those who apparently feel threatened by the idea that their tidy black & white world views are disintegrating – the freak-out over the Arizona veto is just one recent example – and the continuing trend toward home schooling and charter schools has a distinct racist and homophobic element to it – but the fact is that society is moving more and more toward integration of all of us into all aspects of community life.
I don’t think stereotypes and prejudices are likely to become “endangered species” anytime soon, but we’re moving in that direction, and it’s largely because of you and me. Just being true selves has caused a sea change in public attitudes and official policies. We’re not scary anymore. We’re not stereotyped as child molesters anymore (except by some who get laughed at or labeled as bigots) We’ve learned how to “talk back” to bigots by asserting our own human dignity and self worth.
There’s much left to do, of course, but the most important, in my view, is to do our best, directly or indirectly, to ensure that kids, of whatever orientation, grow up with a fundamental belief that society is made up of ALL of us. That the fabric of community is just that – a fabric, a tapestry, and you can’t just cut pieces out without destroying the whole thing.
(And I realize I’ve neglected girls and women here, but I’m not qualified to speak to their situations other than to say, don’t let stereotypes rule YOU any more than they should boys and men.)Email Keystonealliancegaylifenewsletter@hotmail.com with any comments.