01 April 2007

Why Do You Like It So Rough? (Part Five)

16. Do you believe you have a right to have your relationship blessed and recognized in your house of worship?

If it's not a sin to be a born eunuch (the term used in Gnostic and Bible scripture to connote homosexual men), then neither is it a sin to form a committed relationship with another born eunuch. (There are no prohibitions against female coupling in the Bible, by the way.) Accordingly, if committed relationships between born eunuchs aren't sinful, then they ought not be shunned by a church, a mosque or a synagogue!

Born eunuchs are sexual beings, just like the rest of humanity; like it or not, they're going to have sexual relationships! Shouldn't their relationships be committed and monogamous, or would it be better for them to pursue promiscuous sex and hedonism? Isn't that what homophobic religious leaders imply when they condemn same-gender marriage?

I regret that heterosexual terms like "marriage", "husband" and "wife" ever became associated with Gay couples, because I don't believe the application is accurate. That said, loving partnerships are necessary to the well-being of all humankind, whatever those partnerships are called. It's been statistically proven that adult individuals thrive in pairs.

Fundamentalist theologians love to claim that heterosexual marriage is a norm everyone should observe, but such arguments have no basis in the Bible! The 19th chapter of Matthew directly contradicts them, as does the 56th chapter of Isaiah and the 14th chapter of the book of Revelations. Some believe that Gay people should be forced into celibacy, but again, there's no Scriptural justification for that teaching. It's absurd to think that a Levitican ban on sleeping with both men and women would apply to men who never slept with women! A ban which, I hasten to add, never applied to Christians.

And what's so Christian about teaching Gay men and Lesbians that they deserve loveless, stigmatized lives? A bonafide Christian church would embrace Gay couples, regardless of whether or not they understood them. Do followers of Jesus Christ need to understand a person in order to treat him or her with compassion? Talk about stumbling blocks to salvation!  Clergy must repent of the sin of passing judgment on same-gender couples.  If such relationships are to be judged, then God alone will judge them.

17. Do you believe only heterosexual people should be allowed to sire, adopt and/or raise children?

Have you ever stopped to think about how many caretakers of children through the ages have been persons of LGBT orientation? How many Lesbian midwives and nurses? How many Gay pediatricians, daycare workers and teachers? How many Pansexual counselors, coaches and Boy and Girl Scout leaders? How many Transgender sisters, brothers and cousins of binary gender parents unwilling or unable to care for their own kids? Good grief . . . the number must be unfathomably huge!

In my lifetime, I've encountered a few Gay foster parents, and I can vouch for the fact that they take their responsibilities quite seriously. I can't understand why the idea of Gay parenting would get Straight society's pantyhose in such a twist; it's not like we're assuming a role we haven't filled before! And it absolutely confounds me that there are also Gay people who disapprove.

Now, there are certain aspects of Gay parenting that do give me pause. Personally, I've never been comfortable with surrogate parenting, this business of renting ovaries and testicles!  I frown on legal contracts that forbid birth parents from interacting with their offspring. I question our insistence on self-conceived children when so many needy youngsters are in need of adoptive homes.

However, I know that most states forbid Lesbian and Gay people to adopt (would somebody please tell me which Bible verse supports that prohibition???!!). I also know that, however uneasy I may be about the various ways Gay and Straight couples grow their families, it's not my place to pass judgment on them! The only legitimate concern I have about how anybody raises their children is whether or not those children are abused or exploited. Sociologists now know that Lesbian and Gay parents are no more likely to abuse their sons and daughters than Straight ones, which comes as no surprise to me.

Traditionally, most Gay people have not produced children, and I fully expect that to remain the norm. Yet, it's clear that God sometimes wills His holy eunuchs and virgins to sire and/or raise offspring. How dare anyone presume to question His divine will?

18. Do you support political candidates who oppose LesBiGay equality?

You know the kind of candidate I mean . . . the kind who makes public statements against Gay people marrying, adopting children, or serving in the military. Senator Sinister may even go so far as to oppose hate crimes legislation and "teaching homosexuality" in sex education classes. Typically, an LGBT voter will justify his support for such a neanderthal by saying: I'm not a one-issue voter. He/she isn't great on LesBiGay issues, but I like his/her position on the war/immigration/health care/education/economic development, etcetera.

First of all, I'd like to know what's so awful about being a one-issue voter? There's nothing like strong feelings on a specific issue to get folks turning out at the polls! Right wing, one-issue voters have dominated our elections in recent years, and just look at how they've transformed our government. That's called power at the ballot box, and we'd damn well better learn how to exercise it!

Second, there are certain issues that are so defining, a candidate's position on them can indicate what kind of overall legislator he'd be. LGBT equality is one of those issues! If a politician's stance on Gay equality is reactionary, his stance on other important issues will likely be reactionary as well. Anti-Gay sentiment will color his policy positions on health care, education, law enforcement and national defense. Since heterosexism and sexism always go hand-in-hand, it's a good bet that his attitudes toward women will be regressive in some way. You'd best believe he won't support upholding the Constitutional separation between Church and State, either!

Would we dismiss a candidate's avowed hatred of Jews or Latinos or African-Americans? No?  Then why the Hell are we willing to overlook a politician's stated antipathy toward Lesbians and Gay men? Bigotry is a character issue! And self-directed bigotry is no less so. Show me a Lesbian who gives her vote to a hetero-fascist, and I'll show you a Lesbian who lacks sound judgment!

19. Do you help fund entertainment media produced by heterosexist actors, writers, dancers, musicians, etcetera?

It's nauseating to know that a historically oppressed people would buy Pop songs with lyrics calling for their extermination, but it happens all the time. Ask any Gay fan of Jamaican Dancehall/Reggae/Rap. It's shocking to know that any oppressed person would buy a ticket to see a virulently heterosexist singer, comedian or actor. It's astounding that many of us regularly pay to see sports stars who make anti-Gay statements!

This is the secular equivalent of throwing dollars in the collection plate of a church that preaches bigotry. This is the intellectual equivalent of having repeated unprotected sex, risking your health over and over again because you're addicted to pleasure.

No kind of pleasure is worth dying for, and make no mistake about it: Hate speech encourages the targeting and murder of LGBT folk! The killings of Gwen Arajo, Billy Jack Gaither, Matthew Shepard, Barry Winchell, Lenford Harvey, Fred Martínez and countless others didn't occur in a societal vacuum. To a greater or lesser degree, these people were all victims of hateful, heterosexist progaganda.

Let's break this damnable addiction! Let's stop funding media genocide! Celebrities will think twice about opening an ignorant mouth on LGBT folk if they understand that doing so will come back to bite them in the bank account!

20. Do you think it's OK for secretly Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual public figures to remain closeted?

Many Gay people, probably a majority, do think so. Sexual orientation is a private matter, they insist, and whether or not to come out should be a personal choice. That is, except in cases where the celebrity has secret Gay relationships and publicly supports bigotry. Then the consensus is that they "deserve" to be outed.

This kind of tortured rationalization supports heterosexual supremacy! It defines the truth of homosexual orientation as a weapon and a punishment to be used against hypocrites. It actually links homosexuality with hypocrisy, and reinforces the idea that same-gender desire is something shameful that must be hidden.

If you want the Straight world to understand that LesBiGay is a benign, natural and normal thing to be, that's hardly the way you go about it! You can't make a convincing case that hiding in the closet is ever an acceptable way to be Gay or Bisexual. Hiding is for people who are afraid or ashamed!

Acquiescing to a bigoted status quo only perpetuates it! Just as there's nothing positive to be gained from concealing the sexuality of Uncle Mubarak, Aunt Rosita, Professor Finkleberg, Parson O'Herlihy, Patrolman Hayakawa or those two older ladies who room together down the road, nothing positive was gained from cloaking the true natures of Dusty Springfield, Paul Winfield, Barbara Jordan, Langston Hughes, Raymond Burr and Luther Vandross in secrecy. And real harm is done when reporters kowtow to hetero-fascists like Dick and Lynn Cheney, who demand media silence on the subject of their daughter Mary's Lesbian partnership!

Society must de-stigmatize the open discussion of LesBiGay sexuality! Journalists who know certain public figures are Gay but resolve never to share that knowledge with the public, regardless of a story's context, should throw their paper-thin arguments about objectivity right out the window!

Yes, it's dangerous to be openly Gay in certain settings. Yes, it can result in loss of family support and livelihood. However, if revealing your homosexual orientation threatens your physical well-being or livelihood, isn't it obvious that you weren't in a safe place to begin with? Admitting the truth isn't what makes you unsafe, it's bigoted attitudes! What's more, closetedness does nothing to eliminate the threat you face. Those of us who've been repeatedly punished for perceived sexual orientation understand that silence isn't sufficient to protect us from hate.

Safe spaces aren't created when LGBT folk conceal themselves behind a heterosexual façade. They're created when we lay public claim to our true identities and demand respect. When Maurice Sendak, Ricky Martin, Wanda Sykes, Chely Wright, Manvendra Singh Gohil and Sir Ian McKellen came out publicly, they widened our safe space. What a refreshing contrast they were to the procession of homophobic public figures who regularly get dragged kicking and screaming from their closets!

Now the whole world knows that Gay identity can encompass respectable occupations like children's book author, Latin Pop icon, comedienne, Country singer, Indian prince and Shakespearean actor. Our numbers aren't limited to self-loathing politicians and clergymen! The integrity of Martin, Sykes and Gohil also challenged sex and gender role bias where it's strongest: In communities of color.

This isn't celebrity worship on my part. It's not any more important that celebrities come out than the guy down the street . . . but it's not any less important, either! The people I just named are among the best role models LGBT folk have to offer society; just think how valuable the openness of other closeted notables would be to the cause of cultural enlightenment.

Too many of us are selfish bastards! We're only too eager to sacrifice integrity for the sake of "privacy". We've got to stop thinking only of ourselves! If we want life to be better for those who come after us, we're going to have to change the way we approach being Lesbian, Gay, Pansexual or Transsexual.

To be sure, the attitude changes Gay Rights pioneers like Edward Carpenter, Frank Kameny, Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin, Harry Hay and Barbara Gittings undertook made things easier for us today!  We've got a responsibility to follow their example. If we choose not to follow it for whatever reason and take refuge in shame-based rationalization, then the living conditions our successors inherit will not have improved. How can we stand to be so craven and cowardly?

If I could ask just one question of all LesBiGay humanity, it would be this one: Why do you like it so rough? Is it a BDSM thing, or what? Do you think you deserve the bad treatment you currently suffer? Is that why so much of what you do perpetuates inequality?

It's heartbreaking to realize how many spirits have been broken by self-hatred; but I'm thinking that if you're one of the few who bothered to read all five parts of this tirade, maybe you're not a lost cause? Maybe, like me, you crave equal treatment and are determined to grasp after it?

You're my hope for the future! You understand how important it is to pass a sense of dignity and entitlement on to the next generation. You know that in order for LGBT kids to grow up strong, we "parents" have got to raise 'em up the right way . . . so let's start laying them a foundation of pride (real pride, not the rhetorical kind) right now.

Some of them want to use you/
Some of them want to get used by you/
Some of them want to abuse you/
Some of them want to be abused
Excerpt from the song "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This" 
by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, 
copyright 1983 by BMG Songs (ASCAP).