With the recent protests against marriage quality — replete with a grandstanding politician, muddy logic, and faith in God being on one’s side — there’s no doubt that as the nation’s capital moves further in the right direction, our District will become a battlefield in some measure.
The irony, I find, is that those who fight against gay people’s civil right to marry, just don’t know what they’re missing. Not that I’m thinking they’d benefit from some same-sex lovin’, but rather they don’t seem to grasp how much they have in common with GLBT people, how much richer their lives might be if they’d just take us at face value.
For example, I recall a lesbian acquaintance once beginning a story with a basic assumption: ”We all believe in God, right?” It was very awkward. A few answered in the affirmative, I said nothing, and she continued with her story that somehow pulled 9/11, the design on a dollar bill, and faith in God into some unified whole that reinforced her faith. Fair enough. I sometimes throw coins in fountains, so who am I to judge? The point is, plenty of folks who would’ve been enraptured by her story wouldn’t give her the time of day because of her ”lifestyle choice.”
The same could be said for all sorts of ”lifestyle choices,” like being a football devotee or singing gospel music every Sunday. For every homophobic person who thinks that marriage equality is a societal evil because it would recognize gay people as just another part of the pattern, rather than as folks with whom you might have a civil conversation while still feeling certain they are somehow deviant or broken or lesser, there is a gay person who probably shares their non-homophobic values and interests.
Poor “Joe the Plumber,” who recently told Christianity Today that he has “homosexual friends” — mm-hmm — but won’t let them around his kids. While he’s not doing his kids any favors, certainly not the ones who may be gay, he’s damaging his own life. There may not be many Jeff Gannons in the world, but there’s at least one. And he and Joe might likely be the best of buds if Joe weren’t choosing a homophobic lifestyle.
Instead of seeing the commonality of their lifestyle choices, such as being an active member of a church, or fishing every weekend, there are some people who just can’t seem to get past their fixation with gay people’s sex lives. It’s just so goddamned important. (Pun intended.) While I should just be able to label that ridiculous and move on, I genuinely feel sympathy for those who suffer from this fixation.
On one hand, they may feel that to accept gay people, sodomy and all, is akin to turning one’s back on God. After all, there’s that crazy Leviticus bit in the Bible. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Buddhists who will back you up on your homophobia, too. Then again, there are all sorts of straight Christians, Jews and Buddhists — and even some Muslims, despite the hangings and wall-topplings — who feel fine with both their faith and their GLBT pals. I’m not certain about there being any such Mormons.
Holy books are full of contradictions that are open to interpretation, and prohibitions that may be a bit kooky outside of their ancient contexts. Using religion to apply some special category to gay people, that is a lifestyle choice. It’s not done because God demands it, but because people choose to. One interpretation of the Bible surely tells us that those who don’t believe Jesus Christ to be the single, glorious messiah are going to hell. But there are surely plenty of Christians who’ve visited, say, Egypt, and didn’t gaze upon crowds of locals, nearly all Muslims, and think, ”damned to hell.” Such an interpretation is a choice.
On the other hand, some are just stuck on gay as being a choice. That’s even more annoying. Just because you were once able to eroticize a member of the same sex for two seconds, does not mean you’re choosing not to be gay by not forcing yourself to continue those thoughts. You don’t get piety’s gold star for ”choosing” to be straight. Ya just are, Blanche. Some are gay, some are bi, some are straight. Some are a little more fluid than others, but most of us just know what we are. A gay person who is celibate is still gay. So get over it. If you think it’s unnatural, that’s natural. I don’t want to imagine my parents having sex either, but they were certainly entitled.
It’s the marriage-loving homophobes for whom I feel sorriest, though. Take poor Maggie Gallagher, fighting for years now to “protect” marriage. She’ll get no argument from me that the institution of marriage has been beaten down. I may have done some of the beating, not having made up my mind on whether the government should be involved in marriage at all. Still, if the relatively rational Gallagher could get past her homophobia — which she denies, though I don’t know what else one could call it — and created an organization whose sole purpose was to support marriage, rather than fight marriage equality, I am absolutely certain there are countless gay men and women, myself excluded, who would be jumping on her bandwagon. But until Gallagher and her peers come to terms with the difference between a choice and what’s innate, between a theocracy and a democracy, between a first- and a second-class citizen, they’ll just keep fighting would-be friends.
Will O’Bryan, Metro Weekly‘s managing editor, was born as the Stonewall Riots ended, making him a Stonewall Baby, he insists.