Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Politics of Love

(Grab a cuppa something. I completely blew the boundaries of verbosity with this one.)

I don't write about my political beliefs much. I've debated them before and frankly, I'm sick of the mentality that allows people to judge my morality based on my acceptance or rejection of a given political doctrine. Also, I tend to be very apathetic about politics in general and my views are not cohesive enough to allow me to claim membership to either major political party...not that I'd want to. That said, there are several issues that I feel very strongly about and will openly opine upon, flames be damned. One of those issues is gay marriage.

My whole life I have been around gay people. My mother was a hairdresser for most of my growing up years, and gay people were able to find a measure of respect and acceptance in that industry. They were abundant at the trade shows and conferences that my mother often brought me to, and though it was never remarked upon, I understood that in the context of their profession at least, they were considered the same as everybody else. They were accepted.

My mother had a gay cousin, who was whispered about at family gatherings. When his partner stole all his money and ran off with another man, there wasn't much sympathy. Though I don't think it was ever said aloud, the general family consensus seemed to be that he got what he deserved. I was pretty young, but kids have a funny kind of perception that allows them to understand the emotional nuances of a situation even if they don't know all the facts. I remember thinking that they weren't very nice to him, except when they wanted his advice about covering that stubborn gray, or whether that fabulous piece they got for a steal at a garage sale was an authentic antique. When he could do something for them they were willing to overlook his sexuality. Otherwise, he was not openly persecuted, but subtly ignored. I felt sorry for the handsome, smiling man who had sadness behind his eyes, though I didn't really know why.

I also had a Lesbian cousin, though nobody knew she was a lesbian until she gave birth to a baby girl out of wedlock. On purpose. You would have thought she robbed the collection basket at St. Francis Xavier. The fact was, she realized she would never have a family through traditional means, and so, when she was financially stable and in optimal health, she and a gay friend decided to have a child together. The illegitimacy of the baby alone nearly gave my Catholic grandmother and all eleven of her siblings a collective stroke. When it was revealed several years later that my cousin was a Lesbian, there erupted a flurry of familial consternation and many assemblages were held with various and sundry religious leaders to decide what to do about it. Do about it? Twenty years later is still rankles me that anyone presumed they had the right to "do" anything about her sexuality or the choices she made as an independant adult.

Her mother, also a hairdresser, was largely nonplussed, but her father and step-mother were convinced she could be "normal" if only she would try. They constantly implored her to attend a series of religious seminars gauranteed to result in heterosexuality. My Dad, a lapsed Catholic, and somewhat of a black sheep, patiently tried to explain to my uncle that she was not broken, and did not need to be fixed. He tried to explain that her sexuality was not a choice, and therefore, beyond her control, or that of Jesus. "Who do you think made her that way?" my dad would ask, but my uncle would hear none of it. I haven't seen my uncle or my cousin in many years, but I would bet that he still hasn't made his peace with her "choice"; not if Catholicism has anything to say about it anyway.

In high school, my very best friend was a gay man. I didn't know he was gay, but I knew he was different. He spent a lot of time at our home, and it was my mother who gently pointed out to me that he was probably homosexual, and that he would really need a good friend to support him in the difficult times he would surely encounter in his life. I didn't let on that I knew his secret. One night, while walking aimlessly through the neighborhood together, he haltingly told me he was gay. My response was..."So?" He looked at me askance, as if he couldn't quite believe that his sexuality made no difference to me. I told him he was one of the best friends I ever had (it was and still is true) and that nothing would change how I felt about him.

Time and circumstance have separated us for quite some time, but I will always remember the relief in his face and the desperate strength of our shared embrace when at last he decided to share his burden with me. I will always remember how he struggled for acceptance in our small midwestern town. I will always remember the shame and fear in his eyes when he was assaulted with words like "queer" and "faggot" and "homo". And I will always remember the way he shrank into his own body as he tried to protect himself from the indignity of the taunts. A teenage boy should not have to be that strong.

In my early twenties, I had a boss who was a Lesbian. She was not a very pleasant person, which was of course, attributed to her sexuality. Sexual frustration was surely to blame for her irrascibility, and all she really needed was a hot beef injection, yuk, yuk. It certainly wasn't due to the fact that she was surrounded by ignorant intolerant good old boys who snickered about carpet munching and comfortable shoes in the break room. It couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that her enduring, monogamous relationship would never be viewed with the same respect as those of her heterosexual peers. I doubt it ever occurred to that retinue of rednecks (genteel, well educated rednecks, but rednecks nonetheless) that perhaps she wore her surliness as armour against the crushing disappointment of not being allowed to live and love with dignity.

I hadn't thought about any of these people for many years.

I have been a stay at home Mom for 11 years now, and though the issue of gay acceptance is still very close to my heart, the places that I frequent in my day to day life are not exactly havens of diversity. Oh...I'm sure there are gay parents on the PTA. I'm sure there are gay coaches and teachers. But they know better than to advertise their sexuality in a state that is as red as the blood of those who died building and then rebuilding the crown jewel of the South. Atlanta likes to think itself very progressive, but the truth is, it is just as mired in the prejudicial mud of the past as any of the tiny torpid little towns beyond its borders.

So why, after all these years, am I being deluged with memories of people and struggles long forgotten?

I watched Brokeback Mountain this weekend.

Yes, I've heard all the jokes. I've watched the shockingly irreverent but undeniably funny bunny parody. I've listened to more people parrot the "Quit you" line than I care to remember, in accents too horrible to recall.

Nothing prepared me for the stunning depth and beauty and sadness of this movie.

I was moved to tears, not just for Jack and Ennis, but for all the people who have not been allowed to love; all the people who have been hurt because they loved someone who was trying to love the "right" way, knowing deep in their heart that it was wrong for them; all those who hadn't the strength to face a life spent being reviled, and so, lived alone, unloved and unloving; wasting their lives trying to live up to some puritanical and bigoted ideal.

So many people have been hurt by the denial of one simple and harmless little privilege; one that doesn't violate anybody else's rights, or diminish anybody else's humanity. It's a privilege that doesn't start wars or end lives. It is a precious commodity, and yet it costs nothing. And still there are those who would begrudge others this right. They would rather condemn fellow human beings to lives of loneliness and sadness, than face having their beliefs challenged, their moral foundations shaken. Which leads me to ask...what can possibly be amoral about love?

If someone can explain this to me, without relying on some pat theistic postulation, I would very much like to hear it. Because L. Ron Hubbard says the Human Race is descended from Aliens. He also says that people with physical and mental disabilities are degraded beings. He has written a very widely circulated book about it and he has gained a very large following of devoted believers. He has disciples and he has centers around the world devoted to this "religion". He has everything that Jesus had, except, arguably, divinity. That doesn't make what he says true or right. So I want an explanation other than "Because Jesus said so."

Since I don't think any such explanation will be forthcoming, I will say this: We should be ashamed. We sanction abortion, war, torture, misogyny, and genocide. We watch other nations savage one another and our own people die of starvation and neglect. But we deny the right to love.

Could anything make less sense?

We've come a long way, it's true. But until the day that gay couples can stand up and say "I do" and be afforded all the same rights and privileges and protection as heterosexual couples, there is still grave injustice being done everyday. I can make a difference, you can make a difference. All we have to do is believe in the sanctity, the value and the goodness of love...any love.

I think we have it in us.

19 Comments:

  • At 5:44 AM, Blogger Chaotic Mom said…

    I, too, have known many gay/lesbian folks, even in the military. Although I never "asked" them. ;)

    But even as a conservative leaning Catholic, I too wonder about gay marriage. I'm not opposed to it at all, and have spent time pondering the pros and cons.

    I think the two persons involved can publicly show their love WITHOUT a piece of paper, same as with heterosexual couples.

    But that piece of paper DOES lend to more commitment. It defines lines and binds them tighter than they may even feel comfortable with at times.

    VERY interesting topic. I look forward to other responses, too.

    Oh, interesting side note. One of our past family docs was a lesbian (well, I'm sure she still IS, just not our doc anymore, we moved). Someone asked me if I felt funny with her giving me my yearly checkup. Hardly! My option was the other doc, a creepy old guy with cold hands who gave me the heeby geevies. YIKES! She was a great doc, better than most I've ever met since.

     
  • At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Kvetch said…

    Well said - and well thought-out. All we need is love.

     
  • At 7:57 AM, Blogger Wander said…

    This post hit too close to home for me. After a 21 year marriage my (now ex) husband told me he wasn't happy and wanted a divorce. He couldn't level with me at the time and tell me why he wasn't happy. After we divorced he moved 1500 miles away and then came out of the closet. For him it was easier to give up everything and move to somewhere that people didn't know him and even though they would still judge him. He didn't have to deal with with people who knew when he was straight, he only had to deal with people who knew him as "gay".
    I think what we need is tolerance. With tolerance who we love wouldn't be such a big issue.

     
  • At 11:29 AM, Blogger Eryn said…

    Wonderful post! *cheers*

     
  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Wander, I'm so very sorry to hear that. It must have been so difficult for all of you. I can't even imagine.

     
  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said…

    "All we have to do is believe in the sanctity, the value and the goodness of love...any love.

    I think we have it in us. "

    I know that WE (you and I and most of the people that read your blog, probably), it's that WE aren't in charge of the country ... and I don't think a lot of other people DO have it in them, unfortunately. This is one of the things that depresses me greatly about this country. :(

    I haven't seen BBM, but as a high school/junior high teacher I have had so many kids come out to me because they know I won't judge them, it makes me feel like I'm doing my part.

     
  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger Overwhelmed! said…

    Excellent post and I agree with you 100%!

     
  • At 8:01 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    I can tell you, as a person who lives in a state where gay marriage is legal, that it doesn't necessarily make it easier on our homorsexual friends. But at least here they are given the right to demand a legal union and get it.

    My best friend in college was (is) a gay man. He was flawed, as are we all, but he always had a hunted and haunted look behind the makeup he wore to hide himself (he was a goth kid for a time). And I loved him. I miss having him around and I have no idea where he is now. But I thank you for this post because you brought up a lot of good memories.

     
  • At 11:10 PM, Blogger Bridgermama said…

    Ok, first visit to your blog and I must say I almost turned and ran for the hills due to the fact that I am oh so tired and this is such an oh so long post. Opted to read it and i am so glad that I did. Your words touched me and give me hope that one day we can become a more tolerant society. It starts with individuals and I feel as if this little post will touch many. Thank you!

     
  • At 6:16 AM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    LOL...yes, it is a long one, and I wouldn't have blamed you one bit for passing on by. But thanks for reading. I'm glad you found it worth the time. And thank you for stopping by. You're welcome any time.

    Thank you to everyone one commented. I know that this issue has touched so many people and I hope that one day, gay rights will just be a common and accepted practice.

     
  • At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting post. There were some who pooh pah'd BBM when it came out saying they couldn't relate to it(because they wern't gay cowboys), but I guess times change. What I wonder about is what makes those peoples connection to the gay people in their lives more real now then when they decared they would not see the movie because they could not relate to it? Had they forgotten about their gay loved ones then? Or had they not realized it was a love story?

    Just goes to show, you can't tell if you will like something or not if you dont' give it a fair shot.

     
  • At 9:30 AM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    Another masterpiece from you, dear BA. I couldn't agree more on all counts (although I take issue with lumping abortion in with misogyny and torture and war). My best friend in high school was also a gay man and looking back, I should have questioned why he was the one one boy I was allowed to have sleepovers with. Growing up in and around NY you don't think twice about gay couples. They're part of the fabric of the culture.

    I think part of the issue is why this is politicized in the first place. The republicans have coopted what is a religious perspective on gays in order to try to lure people into supporting a party which stands, not for "values," but for imperialism and neocon economic policy. It's the old bait and switch. And it kills me, because in the end, everyone gets hurt. The peaceful, law-abiding, loving gay couples most of all.

     
  • At 12:42 PM, Blogger kim said…

    Great post. I know many people who have had to adjust their stance on gays because their sons and daughters came out. My mother-in-law's group of friends have hosted baby showers for their daughters and partners. I know that it was difficult for these woman because they had to let go of long held beliefs. The point is that they did out of love. It's much easier to judge from a distance.

     
  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger Antique Mommy said…

    Your posts are never disappointing. Well written as always.

     
  • At 3:27 PM, Blogger JerseyTjej said…

    you said grab a cuppa sumthin and I chose red...bad move! I am drunk before I could finish the post...will try again tomorrow! LOvE your wall paper!

     
  • At 3:40 PM, Blogger JerseyTjej said…

    OMG! That was beautiful! Hugs to the boys and you for maintaining such a balanced and light hearted touch!

     
  • At 9:10 PM, Blogger kevin said…

    As you most likely know, one of the questions new parents ask themselves is upon their own premature death, who would they choose to take in their children. My wife and I have a plethora of heterosexually married wonderful friends and family whom we love dearly, but the couple we would feel most comfortable entrusting our child's upbringing to would have to be a couple of guys we know. I don't say that for purposes of praise mongering and I don't want to use your blog as a soapbox to implore people to open their hearts and minds blah blah clicheed blah, but I sincerely believe that if we let our silly prejudices get in the way of finding the true beauty in people, we only cheat ourselves. Moreover as parents, we also cheat our children.

     
  • At 9:26 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Please, feel free! I'm happy to be your soapbox and everyone else's on this issue.

    That was well said.

     
  • At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Izzy said…

    My thoughts... (I'll keep it brief as possible, which isn't saying much. Just be glad I'm not talking)

    Gay people do not choose to be gay. Who would choose to make their lives that much harder? So asinine...

    Gay people should be allowed to marry and adopt. Period.

    I LOVED Brokeback Mountain. I saw it one day when I got out by myself. It was heartbreakingly sad and I ached for those fictional characters. That people cannot love who they want without issue is shameful.

    We sanction abortion, war, torture, misogyny, and genocide. We watch other nations savage one another and our own people die of starvation and neglect. But we deny the right to love.

    I think this says it all. I just don't understand how we can live in such a contradictory world...

     

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