Monday, October 18, 2010

Well, I'm up early, absurdly early, so I have a few minutes to ruminate and what I want to ruminate about today is teh GAY. I can't imagine what it's like to be gay, any more than I can imagine what it's like to black. I have a number of friends who are gay and "out", I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are not "out", although they are not exactly "closeted", either. I have, to my knowledge, no openly gay relatives; then again, I don't spend a lot of time with my relatives as the nearest of them live about 500 miles away and most live a good deal farther away than that. I was born in 1949 when Jim Crow was the law of the land in the South (and, in practice, in many northern states as well). Black americans were presumed to be inferior and expected to be subservient and respectful of their "betters". People may well argue that this is not the case, they are wrong. When I was in school, at a catholic school with a very low "tuition" (about $12 a year when I was in grade school) there were few if any blacks in our student body--despite the fact that there were many blacks living within walking or busing distance. The church I attended had few black attendees, I don't know if there were any blacks who were parishoners. When I worked at one of several jobs I held as a teenager I worked with whites, almost exclusively. The only blacks I worked with were, in all but one instance, lower on the totem pole than I was--even if I was a new hire. Bigotry and prejudice were common and unremarkable amongst my classmates, my co-workers, my superiors, teachers, public officials and even my own family. I was made aware of my own bigotry when, while riding a public bus, I told a racist joke to some of my companions. They didn't laugh and I turned around to find a large, angry black woman looking sternly at me. She said, "Your mother would be ashamed of you for telling that story.". That was it, she turned away. I felt terrible, initially for being chastised and then, later, for having said what I had said. That incident took place just about 50 years ago and I've been working on acceptance, true acceptance of "the other"--to the point where there is no, "the other", ever since. Gays, or "queers", "homos", "fags" as we called them when I was younger, have had on the one hand, an easier time of "passing" than blacks--so long as they lived in denial of their desire to be genuinely who they are; on the other hand, they are still viewed by many people to be sick, aberrant, immoral or inferior. Gay bashing, literally, was a rite of passage for some jocks when I was in school, as was picking fights with the jewboys down at Central HS (oddly those same heroes rarely went down to the ghetto to look for trouble). Like blacks, gays have contributed much to our society. In the arts and sciences, public service, private business and education many inventions, innovations and improvements in processes have been the work of gay men and women. Like blacks they have often had their contributions downplayed or even ignored. When they have been recognized for their achievements they have often been unable to act as role models for other gays, without there being a backlash from the bigots and they have, in many cases, been subjected to verbal insults and physical threats simply because of their being gay. There is a tendency among us humans to look for a scapegoat, someone to bear the blame for the ills of our society. Down through the years it's been the easily identifiable "other"; the one with the funny name, odd speech patterns, strange customs, "wrong" faith or different skin color. Gays have had to deal with all of this; they have also had to deal with being misunderstood and hated for their sexual orientation--and, when being "out" for that alone. The RCC, many fundamentalist christians and muslims that preach a message of love and tolerance are intolerant, to the extreme of killing in the name of GOD, of those who are openly gay. The same is true of some governments that purport themselves to be inclusive. I am not gay, I'm fairly certain I would not enjoy having sex with a man. That I am not gay and don't think I would enjoy having sex with a man does not mean that I think someone who is gay and enjoys having sex with someone of the same sex is wrong. Consensual sexual relations between two willing adults is fine with me. So is a living arrangement, including a marriage (or a civil union--with exactly the same legal underpinnings) between two willing adults. I don't care what people do when they are in private or public as long as what they are doing is not a violation of the law for one group while it is acceptable for another. The whole DADT thing is, in a nutshell, bullshit; if you can fight and die for your country what difference does it make what you do on your downtime? I've been propositioned, sometimes rather forcefully, by gay men and my thoughts were "Man, what an asshole!" not, "Oh, noes, icky buttseks!". As a gay acquaintance once said when I asked him why the other guy just didn't get that I wasn't gay", "He doesn't care, to him, you're just a piece of meat." . In other words, he was just dealing with me the way a lot of guys deal with women--he didn't care about anything but his own wants. I got it. This piece is not intended to sway those who are afraid of, and therefor hate, gay people. They need professional help. If it makes those who already "tolerate" teh GAY move a little more in the direction of genuine acceptance, that would be a good thing.