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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Straight People: Thanks From the LGBT Community

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When I was growing up in the middle of the last century homosexuals were the lowest of the low.  The clergy said they were sinners destined for the hottest spot in hell, the lawyers said they were criminals whose most private of sexual acts constituted a felony that could put them in prison for twenty years or more, and the doctors deemed them mentally ill but possibly treatable with procedures such as electric shock or mind-altering drugs.
Last week the states of Maine, Maryland, and Washington, by vote of their citizens, allowed gay people to get married!  More than half of the people in the United States tell pollsters that they approve of gay marriage, and it’s now clear that the barriers to the treatment of LGBT people as ordinary citizens with ordinary rights are falling fast, one by one.  Gays can—at last—serve in the military, marry, adopt children, and the list goes on.  There are still battles to be fought: the elimination of the Defense of Marriage Act (which denies federal recognition to gay marriages, and which the Supreme Court will take up in this current term), the expansion of civil rights for gays so that, for example, it a gay person’s lifelong partner dies the taxing authorities don’t pitch the survivor from his/her home, etc., but these skirmishes will all have a predicable happy ending, if not tomorrow then the day after, or the day after that.
Mary Jo Kilroy
By its very definition a “minority” cannot run things.  Gay people have fought impressively for decades to gain the right to equal treatment, but it cannot come about until the majority adopts the same goal.  That’s what’s just happened in Maine, Maryland, and Washington (and in Minnesota, where the voters turned down an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned gay marriage), and, frankly, it amazes me that these good people have taken such a bold stand.  From the very beginning of the battle for gay rights there have been valiant and brave straight people who have stood up and declared that basic human decency requires that gays be treated like everyone else.  From my gay rights days in Columbus, Ohio, Mary Jo Kilroy is a shining example of this.  In a day when it was dangerous to do so, and politically suicide, she ran for office after office (eventually becoming a member of Congress) and declared her strong support for gay rights.  There are thousands of similar examples of straights leading the charge, and I have mentioned a few of them in these blog posts.
Recently the straight drumbeat has gotten louder.  In June there was an incredible “Letter to the Editor” in the Columbus Dispatch by a woman named Lee Taylor in which she defended “Funky Winkerbean” by Tom Batuik which had been attacked in a previous letter by a man who was offended when Batuik’s plot line did not permit discrimination against gays at a high school prom.  Ms. Taylor commented:
[The letter writer] used the word “normalization” three times. I don't know how “normal” homosexuality is, but I do know that it's not only been written about from the beginning of literature, it's found to some degree in almost every species on Earth. If the only criteria for normal is what the majority are or do, everyone from redheads to Star Trek fans are abnormal. . . .
Sexual orientation is not a choice. It is as intrinsic as the color of a person's eyes.
Does [the letter writer] seriously believe that a child willingly elects a life that's sometimes so full of despair that a 10-year-old would hang himself? I am, by the way, a heterosexual mother of four, grandmother of six.
LEE TAYLOR
Reynoldsburg
I had never met Ms. Taylor, but I called her up and congratulated her on her letter, at which point she  said she’s written a number of similar letters in the past, and that anti-gay discrimination disturbed her greatly.  She is one of my heroes.
Joe Blundo
The Columbus Dispatch has a columnist named Joe Blundo who usually writes entertainingly on various local matters, but every once in awhile he gets serious about something that bothers him.  In July his column marveled at how little stir newsman Anderson Cooper caused when he came out of the closet.  Blundo commented:
If there really were a “homosexual agenda,” you’d have to assume that Cooper, Rachel Maddow, Rosie O’Donnell, Suze Orman, Jim Parsons, Neil Patrick Harris and George Takei are all part of the conspiracy. Now, really, does that sound like a cabal that wants to take over the world or just the guest list for an Emmy Awards after-party?
Homophobia — the ugly, personal kind — still exists, of course, but it seems to have a bleak future in the public arena. . . . When bigotry moves from the abstract to the personal, it becomes harder to defend.
Well, the entire nation is moving from the abstract to the personal.
We all know gay people. They’re our neighbors, our relatives, our co-workers and — yes — our celebrities. So we live in this strange situation in which it is still permissible to oppose full rights for gay people — but don’t you dare say mean things about my cousin, my friend or Lance Bass. . . . Attacking them isn’t just politics anymore. Now, it’s personal.
Add Joe Blundo to that list of my personal heroes. 
Your own city has many similar examples if you look for them: straight people who are annoyed by homophobia and when they see it they speak up, thus helping silence it.  As this happens by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the millions, a wonderful societal change occurs: gays cease to be sinners, criminals, and/or mental defectives.  Instead—as wonderful shows like “Modern Family” illustrate—they are just people like everyone else.
And last week, at the ballot box, straights illustrated this in a very convincing way.
I think I can safely speak for the entire LGBT community when I say to all you straights out there who are doing these tremendous things: Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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Related Posts:
"The Aging Gay Rights Activist," March 24, 2010
"Frightening the Horses," April 4, 2010
“Homosexuality: The Iceberg Theory,” April 25, 2010
“How I Lost a Gay Marriage Debate,” April 29, 2010
“Straight Talk,” May 10, 2010
“Marijuana and Me,” July 11, 2010


“How To Tell if You’re Gay,” August 31, 2010
“The Thunderbolt,”September 3, 2010
“How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010
"How Many Homosexuals Are There in the World?" November 8, 2010
"Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight," January 25, 2011
"The Homosexual Agenda To Conquer the World," February 8, 2011
"Seducing Straight Men," March 3, 2011
"Coming Out: How To Tell People You're Gay," March 27, 2011
"Jumping the Broom: How 'Married' are Married Gay Couples?" July 17, 2011
"The Legacy of Homophobia," August 2, 2011
"Going Undercover at an Ex-Gay Meeting," September 19, 2011
"The Presumption of Heterosexuality and the Invisible Homosexual," October 2, 2011
"Gay Bashers, Homophobes, and Me," January 27, 2012
"On Being a Gay Sports Fan," March 9, 2012
"Sexual Labels: Straight, Gay, Bi," April 15, 2012
"The History of Gay Rights in Columbus, Ohio," June 4, 2012
“I Support the Right of the Boy Scouts To Ban Gays,” July 24, 2012

“Gay Marriage, DOMA, Proposition 8 and the Mysterious Supreme Court,” January 15, 2013
"Gay Marriage, the Supreme Court, and the Future," June 26, 2013

“A Gay Hoosier Lawyer Looks at Indiana’s RFRA: The Religious Bigot Protection Act,” March 30, 2015; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-gay-hoosier-lawyer-looks-at-indianas.html
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

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