Why we still have a lot of work to do on gay acceptance. When a guy like this doesn’t feel the need to marry a woman and have sex with men in parks, then maybe we’ll have made real progress.
Oh, what am I talking about? We have made real progress. When I had a bad riding lesson, my instructor would counsel the long view: Don’t think about where you are today. Think about where you were six months ago, and how much you’ve improved since then. It’s depressing when a married father of four, faced with arrest in a gay cruising spot, panics and things escalate to the point of violence. But where were we a few years ago? At least some gay people can get married and live out ‘n’ proud. I ran into a married father of two the other day in the grocery store, but he’s married to another man, the kids are adopted and if they were any more decent and upright, they’d be in danger of being elected to office.
I got an e-mail from a friend the other day:
I wouldn’t call it a milestone, but it’s a definite ministone, one of those little markers that show how the complexion of ordinary life is changing. During a four-hour stint at the Wells County 4-H Fair yesterday, I stumbled into a long talk about, broadly speaking, the gay experience. Met a guy I went to high school with, we had eons of time to kill watching our kids in the same events, and we started comparing notes on politics. I found that Mr. hyper-Catholic is a low-key gay-rights booster, and it’s a serious area of friction he and his uber-conservative wife have with their extended families.
Their “radicalizing” experience: Another of our classmates, a close friend of theirs, came out to them in the late ’90s. Mr. Catholic had no clue, and he said he was left speechless and fumbling to react. “I gotta hand it to my wife. She gave him a big hug and said, ‘Do you have someone special? Tell us all about him!'”
On one hand, hers seems a corny reaction, like something Grandma would say. But mostly it’s charming that she could suppress all her religious worry-wartism in a blink and flash him what I think of as the universal old-biddy code for demonstrating acceptance of gay people: “Dish the gossip on your romantic life, on the double.”
This is, I remind you, one of the most conservative corners of one of the most conservative states in the union. As I said a while back on another website: It’s over. The skirmishes will continue, but the war is over.
But the skirmishes will likely continue for pretty much ever. Societal acceptance will help. The passage of time will help. But there will always be gay people who feel their attraction to people of the same sex is wrong, somehow, and want to change it. That’s the part of the pray-the-gay-away movement that interests me — the people who seek it out, for whatever reason.
We like to think that those people are self-loathing, and no doubt many of them are. But what about those who aren’t? What about people whose sexuality falls somewhere in the middle of the continuum, who want to push it closer to the other side? Do they have anything interesting to say in this? Consider that classmate in Wells County. The traditional path for a young gay person in such a community would be to head to Indianapolis or Chicago after high school or college, somewhere with old houses to fix up and community theater and softball leagues and Teva sandals and other stereotypically gay things, and settle in among the critical mass a smaller community can’t produce.
But what about the guy — let’s assume a guy, for this argument — who may be same-sex attracted, but actually wants a female wife and children and whatever else goes along with it? Is he going to Chicago? What if he likes small-town Wells County life? What if he wants five acres on the edge of town and a Rotary Club membership? Is he ever going to be completely comfortable in his skin? I don’t know. Probably not. My guess is, he’ll head to Chicago a few weekends a year, on business, and cruise the parks. I think the closet will always be with us. I think all we can do is make it smaller.
OK, then. I front-load my week: Monday is the busiest, de-escalating until Friday, when I try to take a little me time. But lately it’s been a full-speed blowout through Thursday, and pals? It is getting on my last damn nerve. So let’s cut to the bloggage before I hop to the shower:
“Scream 4” wraps in Plymouth. I blew up that picture of Courtney Cox and was reminded of Coozledad’s description of Madonna: “A stew bird.” Man, I’ll say.
The Andrew Breitbart business yesterday leaves me nearly spluttering with rage. When I get spluttery, I turn to Roy to channel it into coherence.
Oops, almost forgot: MRIs of vegetables. Because we can.
Me, I’m off.