Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gay Equality...

Today I am going to write about something that is dear to my heart...gay equality. I was thinking about this, and how I usually use the term "gay rights". But upon deeper thought, the term gay "rights" seems to indicate that a certain sector of this country want things above and beyond what everyone else has. That simply is not the case. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people do not want special rights...they want equal rights.

They want to be able to walk down the street and hold the hand of the person who makes their world shine, just as any straight person does, without giving it a second thought. Yet, in most areas of this country, they cannot do that. To do so would subject them to looks or horror, nasty comments and even outright violence. In addition, it could cost them their job, their apartment (I have known of people being evicted when the fact that they were queer was brought to light)...even their life. There are currently very few laws on the books that protect LGBT people from discrimination. The laws that are on the books are sketchy at best. They could be interpreted either way.

I am constantly in wonder of the attitude of people who are "against" gays. I put "against" in quotes because even that is hard for me to wrap my mind around...how can you be "against" someone who is just who they are? This is akin to being "against" people with brown hair or "against" people whose favorite color is green.

And yes, I am fully aware of the "born that way" versus "it is a choice" debate. I have a few thoughts on that. First, for the straights out there, when did you choose to be straight? Did you actually grow up liking both sexes and then one day wake up and say to yourself "Well, I think I'm going to decide to be straight"? Do you really think that gay people are any different? Do you really think that they started out liking the opposite sex and then one day, just for shits and giggles, made the decision "Hey, I think I'll just be gay, this straight thing isn't doing it for me". Why on Earth would someone choose a trait that is, in most cases, going to make their life harder?

But not even that, it is also the idea that being gay is all about sex. Or the idea that gay men are attracted to every man out there simply because he has a penis. These things are not only inaccurate but they are downright offensive. Most people's lives, gay or straight, do not revolve around what they do in the bedroom (or anywhere else in the house, for the kinky out there). The "gay lifestyle" that I hear so much about has eluded me. The only "gay lifestyle" that I know of is the one where you get up, go to work, come home, cook supper, bathe the kids, go to bed. Does that sound familiar? Sounds just like everyone else's life, doesn't it?

"Gay Marriage", as they are coining the term, isn't about "pushing an agenda" upon the American public. It isn't about "stripping away the sanctity of marriage". Believe it or not, it is about the same concerns that you (the married straight person) had when you got married. It is about a commitment, in the eyes of God (for those who believe) and in the eyes of the law. It is about parenting and about both parents having legal access to their child in case of the unthinkable. It is about having the same legal rights that every straight person in this country is afforded.

I could tell you heart wrenching story after heard wrenching story about gay parents who had a child and then the birth mom dies and the child is ripped away from the only other parent she has ever known and sent to live with her homophobic grandparents who were strangers to her. Or about the couple who had spent the last forty years of their life together only to be kept apart in the very end by one partner's homophobic family who had legal power to do so. Even the day to day things, like one partner visiting the other on the job and having to act like a roommate and having to use a code word for "I love you" when they part for fear that co-workers would figure out the secret and his career would be destroyed. When is the last time that you, as a straight person, even gave a second though to giving your husband or wife a quick kiss goodbye?

Then you have the camp that says "I don't hate the person, I hate the sin". Well that is another huge load of hogwash. I won't even go down the path of why I don't really believe in "sin". I will just say this; sexuality is human, it is one of our most basic "instincts", if you will. It is horribly, horribly cruel to expect someone to go through their life denying who they are. It is entirely possible to be in a room full of people and still be utterly alone in your soul. Even with leaving the sexuality part of it aside, everyone deserves someone to love and someone who will love them in return, without having part of the relationship be an utter lie.

I haven't looked at the current research on the debate, because in the end, I don't really think it matters why someone is gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered. Sure, some people were molested at a young and vulnerable age and it may have changed something in them, flipped a switch. Sure, some women were horribly abused by a sorry excuse for a man and subconsciously decided that it was never going to happen again and thus they identify as lesbian. Then, others may have had the perfect childhood but just have always known that they were attracted to the same sex. It simply does not matter. They are who they are.

That is actually one of my outlooks on life... It is what it is. Meaning, don't try to dissect it, don't analyze it, don't fret about it, don't label it, just live it. Life is a continuum, it isn't a set state of being.

I will leave you with an excerpt from an article written by a number of straight-identified students at Earlham College who got together to look at some examples of straight privilege. "Straight privilege" being defined as the privileges you are afforded in this society when you are straight (or perceived to be straight). You are pretty much guaranteed:
  • You can be affectionate with your significant other in public without fear of violence.
  • Your sexual orientation will be represented in TV shows, books, magazines, and music.
  • You won’t be excluded from any religious community for being heterosexual.
  • Nobody will ask you to defend your heterosexuality.
  • People don't ask why you made your choice of sexual orientation.
  • Your orientation is represented in your local, state, and national representatives.
  • None of your family will disown you because of my orientation.
  • You don’t have to fear emotional, psychological, economical, or physical abuse from family or friends who find out you are straight.
  • You are not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of your sexual orientation.
  • Nobody will use your sexual orientation as a slur against you.
  • You can be open about being straight without fear of losing your job.
  • You won’t be accused of being abused or an abuser because of your orientation.
  • You don’t have to be afraid to be yourself.
  • Your masculinity/femininity is not challenged because of your sexual orientation.

1 comment:

Selina said...

Keep up the good work.