Stephanie Donald—Publisher, LGBT-Today
I wanted to get clear of the SCOTUS decision—clear of Pride-silly season—and then perhaps we can talk a bit more seriously.
I know it’s tremendously unpopular and not PC to call ourselves homosexuals anymore, but in the context of defining who and what we are, are we going to be so shallow that simply writing out a Post-It note, pasting it to our foreheads, and telling everyone that the only thing that makes a homosexual is who they love and marry?
A fictional writer couldn’t make a character like that last for more than one page of writing.
Is our entire community going to condemn artists, poets, educators, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, actors, writers, and even that friendly person at the convenience store—it really doesn’t matter what we do! There is a culture that centuries of ostracization, laws against our very existence, stigmatisms, and social and political threats, have caused us to define ourselves by.
I suppose if you asked a normal bar fly, I suppose they might agree that being gay or lesbian meant loving someone of the same gender, but then again, most bar whores define love by their catch of the day—not who they marry, either. Now that's shallow!
This conversation isn’t meant to go into the metaphysics of what constitutes love. That is something personal and I’m not hubristic enough to attack a subject that everyone should be able to figure out for themselves. It also isn’t meant to denigrate young people for one-night stands. Heaven knows we’ve all done it at some point in our lives! It’s one of the rights and passages of youth! I know some 60-year-olds who still find a lot of joy in "sleeping around." If it makes you happy! I’d rather see a 30-year-old sleeping around then I would watch that same person from the age of 20 go from one relationship to another, swearing that each new person “was the one!”
I’ve seen enough young people play relationship pinball in my life (especially when I was young and our parents had pre-programmed us to long for the white picket fence), and no one ever wins at that game. Simply measuring yourself by your ability to find someone—anyone—to have what might seem a permanent relationship (and as we get older we realize that nothing is ever permanent), is the first step in a lifelong battle with one hell of an inferiority complex!
Yes, marriage equality is more rights than we’ve ever had before. But as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker (Spiderman); “With great power comes great responsibility!” What we do with our newfound civil right (a single civil right and definitely not the last our community needs) will be our real defining moment.
Do we act as irresponsibly with marriage as the heterosexuals do, or do we approach it with reverence and respect for the institution; taking the vow, “’til death do us part,” far more seriously than our heterosexual counterparts? Or do we act as careless with it as they do—treating it as some extension of a trial “living together” situation and discard it when it doesn’t suit us any longer like our heterosexual counterparts? Personally, love is an emotion I don't need to validate with a piece of paper. Marriage is simply governmental sanction and tax shelters with a lot of legalese sprinkled on top.
But don’t think that we won’t be watched!
There will be studies done and some of the evangelicals won’t like what’s revealed by those studies. That’s the true reason they’re scared and it has nothing to do with whether we’re flippant with our new civil right—it will be over studies of male-male and female-female marriages, how long they last and what the common reasons for divorce are.
Don’t mess with Christian patriarchal dominance or there will be hell to pay—or at least that’s what they want us to think, anyway.
Those studies will reveal more about the behavior of all men and women, heterosexual or homosexual, in American society today than has been known since the scientific community was finally let out of the box by the Church of Rome. The evangelicals still wish the scientific community was locked in a soundproof box!
But LGBTQI society is merely a cross-section of normal people who love in a different way from another group, but share the exact same parenting and values growing up.
Suppose scared heterosexual males find out that men are more prone to cheat on their mates whether they’re gay or straight? It would tend to poke some very large holes in the entire institution of marriage insofar as men were concerned, wouldn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not condemning men!! Perhaps once upon a time (prior to 1997), I never took the time to examine the “hard wiring” of the male brain. MyGay pioneer and activist, journalist, book writer, philosopher, poet, hopeless romantic, Jack Nichols as he was in 1975. Nichols defied a single tag in his life, participating in black civil rights demonstrations, demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and was primarily responsible for assembling the necessary data and testimonials that eventually got the American Psychiatric Association to reverse their decision about homosexuality being a mental disease. late good friend and gay pioneer, Jack Nichols, changed that all for me.
He loaned me a copy of Men's Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity, his and Lige Clarke’s seminal work about the male culture, and it made a lot of sense, albeit containing a lot of rather dated material; the basic philosophy and psychology are still as sound today as they were in the mid-1970s.
Going into a complete review of this book would be pointless but Jack made some brilliant points about the basic mental “wiring” of men in general. It’s simply not in the genetic profile of men to be monogamous prior to a “certain age.” That is to say, when men are the most sexually active, you would be hard-pressed to find a man—gay or straight—who hasn’t at least thought very seriously about having an extra marital affair. It’s quite natural for them and for many women, too.
So why did we define this battle in the terms of marriage? Well, if you asked the straight lawyers who fought this battle, they might tell you that it was because marriage laws were the most vulnerable to legal attack.
Of course this battle cost you, the people who donate money to the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, more than $20 billion over the past 18 years. Obviously vulnerability doesn’t include the words “cost effective,” does it?
We still don’t have a national law that protects us in the workplace, our homes, our banking, the way we’re treated by some police and government officials (one couple seeking residency for one partner who was not a citizen in the 1970s prior to national marriage equality were turned down because “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots” which simply proves that the government is not impervious to bigots in their employ) and many churches—especially the dogmatic and inflexible evangelicals. For those of us who live in the Deep South and can't escape or avoid the evangelicals, a law protecting us from them makes more sense when you're openly hammered in public by these rude, hubristic, and rather stupid people who just don't get that not everyone wants to hear their garbage—and we don’t want our homes picketed just for being LGBTQI!
When we emphasize the importance in this world of having a job, a home, a bank account, and the peace and security to enjoy true freedom in this nation, if we were truly focused on the most important issues, we would have worried first about securing these liberties before trying to make a home in a nation whose hostility to us includes murder, forced destitution, public humiliation, media homophobia, financial firewalling that prevents us from having that white picket fence, two kids and the ability not to worry that you or your children will be harassed, bullied or forced into destitution because you put a Post-It note on your head that says:
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