Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gay, Straight - Who Cares?

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on September 20, 2008.

This newspaper's recent series on how young people in the area perceive and react to gays has stirred a predictable pot of controversy.

Gay activists have applauded it. Conservative traditionalists have condemned it. And the overwhelming majority of folks simply yawned and went on with their lives.

They have done so not because the series wasn't interesting or well written, because it was indeed both. Instead, their reaction to the story merely reflects the reality of the situation both here and across Massachusetts.

Gay people are just no big deal anymore.

They are your neighbors, your friends, your family members. They have jobs like you do, pay taxes like you, and have problems similar to yours. They have their successes, their failures, and in most cases their lives are just as screwed up.They are no more or less interesting than the rest of us.

At long last, they have earned the right to be just as anonymous and ignored as their straight majority counterparts. Congratulations to them - I think.

Over the last four years homosexual marriage has been legal here in Massachusetts. Thousands of gay couples have entered into legal marriages or made their unions official in the eyes of the law. They have availed themselves to the rights and privileges previously given only to their heterosexual counterparts.

They have also been welcomed into the world of divorce, child custody battles, and the other less glamorous aspects of marriage we straight folks have kept to ourselves for so long. There is no taking the good without the bad.

But not everyone wants gay folks to become simply an accepted part of our social landscape. Some insist on trying to single out gays, to point out how different they are from the rest of us.

These good people with their "traditional values" insist homosexuals are seeking rights beyond what "normal folks" are accorded. They accuse them of seeking not equality but rather special treatment. They charge this newspaper and the "liberal media" with seeking to promote the "homosexual agenda".

Agenda? Wow - I didn't even know they had meetings.

I need to make a full disclosure here. According to the apparent rules of the prevailing political atmosphere, I am a Liberal. And even worse - I'm not embarrassed by it in the slightest.

I'm not sure which is considered worse today, being gay or being a Liberal. But it is now clear one of them is an actual choice, while the other is arguably not.

We all choose our politics, choose who and what we stand for. We choose our religions, our beliefs. And thank God we have the freedom in this country to do just that.

But choosing our sexuality? That hardly seems within our power. You can choose to perform heterosexual acts, but that does not make you a heterosexual. It is not what you do that defines your sexuality. Rather, it is who you are.

Homosexuality is not a crime - at least not in this state. Neither is it a disease for which a cure is available. It is not a political party, at least no more than conservative religious groups are.

The danger with our youth today is not that they will become too accepting of homosexuals, but that they will learn to hate and distrust people simply because they are different from themselves in ways kids cannot possibly fully understand yet.

We rightfully protest when other countries deny basic rights to women based upon nothing but their gender. Yet here at home we seek to deny rights to people we deal with every day for no reason other than their sexual identity. Is one really any worse than the other?

Does preaching acceptance make us weaker as a society? Does teaching discrimination and distrust make us stronger?

I was wondering - have I been guilty of promoting the Heterosexual Agenda all these years? Did I miss those meetings too?

What The Sun Chronicle series pointed out to me was the strides gays have made towards simply becoming ignored like the rest of us average Americans.

Sometimes you have to stand up for the right to be unnoticed.

BILL GOUVEIA is a local columnist. His writings appears here every Saturday, and he can be reached at aninsidelook@aol.com.

2 comments:

Cape Cod Gal said...

I don't understand what the big deal is. My best friend from high school is gay and so is my aunt. People should mind their own fucking business and find something else to bitch about. Things that actually hurt people. Little things like global warming, war, terroists, hunger and homelessness.

You love, who you love...that's all there is too it.

Bill Gouveia said...

I could not agree more! There are so many more important things to bitch about - and I will eventually get to all of them! :)