Friday, September 14, 2012

You Have No Need to Fear

Isn't it interesting how we are brought kicking and screaming, one tiny step at a time, into the modern world.  How slow we are to shed the prejudices of yesteryear and extend full human rights to all the citizens of our so-called modern democracies.

In America, we were entertained recently by blowhard Timothy Dolan at not just the Republican Party Convention but the Democratic Party Convention as well, pretending to be addressing God but leaving no doubt it was actually the President of the United States he was speaking to when he asked God to make him - Obama - understand he should not limit his - Dolan's - right to put limits on a woman's right to control her own body.  Not Dolan's words, of course.  Dolan phrased it in terms of "freedom of religion," by which he meant the freedom of the old boys' network to speak for the entire body of believers, 80% of whom often see things differently.  They're already there, the body of believers.  The old boys in medieval silks and satins are still catching up.

On a very different front, German chancellor Angela Merkel just issued one of those convoluted public statements political leaders make from time to time where you wonder if she isn't being paid by the word.  You know, one of those "It is not necessarily the case that..." statements.  It took me a minute to realize what she was up to.

Turns out she was addressing a closeted gay man.

First, some background:

The Bundesliga - the German federal football league, the association of eighteen football (i.e., soccer) teams which make up the world's largest sports federation - normally makes a bunch of money by carrying advertising on their jerseys when they play.  But this weekend, they have decided to forego the millions of euros they usually earn and wear jerseys with the slogan, "Geh deinen Weg (Go your (own) way!)"  The same slogan will be on the footballs they play with, as well.

The German Foundation for Integration has decided it's time to use these intensely popular macho men to carry a message touting integration and opposing discrimination.

Initially, this was to be a public service message for the usual suspects.  You know, the ones referred to when we speak of equality "without regard to race, creed or ethnicity."  Or, with a German order of priorities, "heritage, religion, or the color of someone's skin."  You've got a Turkish name or a Caribbean accent and you play for Germany?  That hasn't been a problem for some time now.  Welcome.  You are us.

But suddenly there comes this little voice in the crowd asking, "What about me? ... I'm gay."

"Well, you too, of course," comes the answer.  From Uli Hoeness, the Bayern Munich Club president.  "I cannot imagine that a gay player would have any problems with our fans. FC Bayern is ready. Society as a whole is further along on this issue than the media suggests."

Hoeness's remarks were matched and upped one by an even more positive statement from the president of the DFB, the German football association, Wolfgang Niersbach.  According to Niersbach, his organization would be "delighted to support any openly homosexual player, whatever league they might play in." 

And, in case you still had any doubts left, Mr. Too Shy to Come Out Gay Person, Angela Merkel is here to put your fears to rest.

Here's her wordy (but lovely) response.  She addresses not just that one guy who continues to want to remain anonymous.  She uses the plural pronoun, familiar, for “you.”
Ich möchte dazu nur sagen, dass ich der Meinung bin,  jeder, der die Kraft aufbringt, den Mut hat...wir haben auch in der Politik ja einen längeren Prozess hinter uns, sollte wissen, dass er in einem Land lebt, wo er sich eigentlich davor nicht fürchten sollte, und das ist zumindest meine politische Botschaft, dass dann immer noch Ängste bestehen, was das konkrete Lebensumfeld anbelangt, das müssen wir zur Kenntnis nehmen, und wir können einfach immer nur das Signal geben, Ihr müsst keine Angst haben.
Or, in the englisch tongue:
I would just like to add that I am of the opinion that everyone who finds the strength, who has the courage...we have been through a long process on this  politically...should know that he lives in a land where he should have no fear of such things, and that is, at least, my political message, that fears still exist in regard to the concrete living environment, that we should take into consideration, and we can only signal once again, "You have no need to fear."
You can hear her mellifluous tones here.   Give a listen.

OK, with the sound turned down, you might think she is reporting that a gas leak has been discovered and repaired.  Don't miss the real message, a message that has been picked up by the international press, if these reports from Italy,  Turkey, and France are any indication.  The Italian and French reports rush past the integration bit and go directly to the gay bit, while the Turkish report leaves out the gay bit entirely, but Constantinople wasn't built in a day.

This lady represents the right-of-center Christian Democrats of her country.  We should be so lucky.

Two football club managers and a conservative politician.

That ain't bad.

Now come out, come out, Mr. Gay Footballer, whoever you are.

And let's move this show along.

Photo credit: picture-alliance/dpa

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