Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Testing the Waters

There are a lot of people claiming the battle for gay rights in the U.S. is essentially won.  A large majority of people are in favor of same-sex marriage and an even larger percentage of Americans insist there is no justification for discrimination against LGBT people, period.  For many Americans who don’t have gay friends and family, it’s time to take the topic off the front burner and recognize it only directly affects a tiny percentage of the population.  My response to that is that percentage is about the same as the percentage of Jews in the U.S., and given the historical injustice done to both gays and Jews in our history, I’d say OK, take it off the front burner – but don’t turn off the heat. 

The gay liberation struggle is no longer my central focus in life.  That would probably be trying to stay awake after meals and making sure my canine daughters get outside at regular intervals, so I don’t have to pick up accidents off the bathroom rug.  But sometimes the struggle still calls out for attention and I find myself dipping into the pool and checking the water temperature.  Gay liberation still runs hot and cold.

When you look outside the limits of the pockets of progressivism in Europe and North America, it’s clear the battle is still raging hot and heavy.  The Catholic Church in Mexico, for example, is working hard this week to prevent the current government from extending same-sex marriage rights from the capital and nine of Mexico’s thirty-one states to the rest of Mexico.  Protest marches have been organized around the country by the National Front for the Family  showing the power of the church in Mexico is still considerable.  Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo of Cancún has been grandstanding, declaring he’d be happy to go to jail to defend the family.  (Oh, sit down, Pedro, you’re embarrassing yourself.)  Meanwhile, LGBT people are marching on archbishop Norberto Rivera’s digs in Mexico City, and demanding the pope bounce him out of his job.

La lucha continua.  The struggle continues, in other words, in this culture war now extended to the entirety of Western civilization over the roles men and women are expected to play, and whether those roles may be expanded or otherwise modified. The same tired old arguments.  Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara is upset the government is not allowing (sic) parents to pass on their faith to their children, assuming the right to raise your own kids catholic, which remains unchanged, includes the right to prevent other people from living by non-catholic rules and conventions.  Same old, same old.

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, in Peru, incidentally, seems cut from the same cloth.  “Gay marriage and the so-called (sic) ‘day after pill’ are things people are not interested in.”  That’s according to a report in the Catholic publication Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse.  

Gotta love it.  The people are “not interested in the day after pill.” 

I know.  I asked the people and they told me they were not interested. 

Sure you did.

You go over there, Juan Luis, and sit next to Pedro Pablo and see if you two can make your church look even sillier.

Homophobia is unacceptable.  Fear of change is another story.  I don’t think everybody uncomfortable with outspoken women or men holding hands is a monster.  I think they need time to recognize that the world will not fall apart if the continuing struggle for human rights takes its natural course and the artificial barriers set up on the basis of sex and race and sexual preference are gradually taken down.  But I think there can be no let-up in the struggle.

It’s always hard to watch members of the Catholic hierarchy in their silks and satins spread the doctrine that one should not use condoms, do stem-cell research, allow women to have executive authority over men or any of us to touch ourselves down there unless we’re making babies.  One wishes they’d get the hell out of the Middle Ages.

Gay Pride in Harrison, Arkansas
But they’re not quite as frightening, somehow, as some of the evangelicals we have in this country whose “old ways” are closer to lynching and the celebration of slavery.  I came across a news story in Harrison, Arkansas the other day, the home of the Ku Klux Klan.  Apparently a group of folk had managed to organize themselves a gay pride event.  How about that, I thought, as the newscaster interviewed the event’s organizers.  I noted they had dropped the word “gay” and were using just “pride” – but hell, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Across the street from Gay Pride in Harrison, Arkansas
But then the video continued and suddenly we were looking at the face of one R. G. Miller, head of the Arkansas League of the South.  Have a look at the video.    It’s chilling.   “Our duty is primarily to God,” says Miller.  “To stand for his word, to stand for his truth, and to stand for his law.  And his law condemns this.  It says that it is evil.  And we don’t want our children to be growing up in a city where homosexuals can parade around the town square.”  The “city” he’s talking about has a population of 12,943 people according to the latest census.  

And that includes the out-and-proud, whom you have to admire for wanting to stay and stand up to the R. G. Millers and the Ku Klux Klan.  I would beat it out of town like the road runner.  But they grew up there, and they call it home.  Of course they want to make it better, safer, saner, and closer to the ideas expressed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Time to recognize how good I have it.  At breakfast this morning, I found an article by Kevin Fisher-Paulson, who is a sheriff in San Francisco who, when he isn't sheriffing, writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle.  It’s titled, “Yo ho ho: He’s me lawful wedded mate” and I got to bask in the luxury of living in another part of the country, one where the KKK never held sway and the issue of same-sex marriage is now settled.  Read the entire article if you can.  It may be limited to subscribers, and I’m afraid to reproduce the whole thing here for copyright reasons, but here’s a taste.  Fisher-Paulson writes about his husband and their two adopted kids, Zane and Aidan, and their habit of talking like pirates.   Also, read the story of how they had adopted three kids once before and had them taken away from them because "the love of two men can never replace the love of a woman."

The Fisher-Paulsons and their boys
When Zane and Aidan’s two daddies, Fisher and Paulson, were finally able to get married, they suddenly realized they didn’t have a best man.

The morning of the wedding, at the kitchen table, I asked Zane about this best-man business.  He said, “Daddy, you’re the best man.” And Aidan said, “Papa too!” In that crazy kindergarten logic, it worked. Brian was my best man, as well as my bride.

For a quarter of a century, he’d been the guy who bought me old comic books, raised my children and ate my experimental chili. Through the years of working in video stores, our Christmas tree committing suicide, losing the triplets, losing Tim, adoption ceremonies, baptisms, raising 21 rescue dogs, dance awards, newspaper columns and medals of honor, we’ve shared every one of those 11,315 days and nights with each other. It doesn’t get any more best-man than that.

What we got for a wedding party were two middle-aged white queens, their hyperactive adopted black 5-year-old son, their hyperactive adopted mixed-race 3-year-old son and three Pekingeses. Kind of like “We Are the World” meets “Here Comes the Bride.” The ceremony was short, and, thanks to Brian’s wisdom, we were not dressed as pirates.

…Eight years later, Brian is still my best man. As well as me hearty.

We’re going to be all right.

Photo credits:

lipstick and mustache = me source

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