Monday, November 17, 2008
Gay Is the New Black
Every Sunday, as I’m hanging out with the New York Times – and after I’ve perused the magazines, Arts & Leisure and the Book Review, in that order – I turn to the gloriously unnecessary Style section. Specifically, I turn to the back, where they put the engagement announcements.
Yes, I admit it! I’m counting how many same-sex couples choose to announce their betrothals or their nuptials in this conspicuous way. The Times, to its credit, start posting “gay marriages” soon after Massachusetts legalized such unions. So the wedding column went from irrelevant to compelling for me almost overnight.
For a while we averaged 2-3 male couples. Only rarely was there female pair, a fact that I ascribed to the male penchant for display. And O, any Sunday with neither persuasion to show for itself discouraged me.
There was a time there when I was discouraged for a month o’Sundays. Fewer and fewer same-sex weddings, and I couldn’t help but notice that the netherward number followed the hateful legislations happening in more and more states, including Oregon.
But the something happened. People are ornery, and the more they’re told they have no rights because they’re not worthy of them, the more contrary they’re going to get. And the uglier the evildoers got (by which I mean those seeking to withhold others’ rights), the more previously disinterested people found their outrage.
I’m one of those – the reluctantly outraged.
Used to be, I didn’t get it about marriage, and its supposedly awesome sanctity. Let the hets have it, I thought, with its medieval trappings and its kitschy oaths. And I listened with dubious interest here in Oregon, a few years ago, when Measure 36 was on the ballot. There was all manner of cant about how marriage had to be protected, though no one was never able to articulate how exactly it was being threatened.
Over and over again, the evildoers’ standard statement was: “I have nothing against those people personally; let them have their civil unions or whatever, but let us preserve the traditional definition of marriage.” But the very next year, those same people were in high dudgeon when the State attempted to go ahead and codify legal unions. “It’s marriage by another name!” they shrieked. And thus gave the lie to all they’d said before.
They stoutly maintained it wasn’t about prejudice and hate. But it was. And it is. They could come up with no other reason, apart from vague references to the destruction of civilization. But it all range hollow, because at the end of the day, all they wanted is to keep an entire strata of Americans – 10% PLUS of them, for pete’s sake – in a stigmatized, disadvantaged state.
How can they not see this? Or are these presumptive Christians just behind caring?
So now that Proposition 8 has passed, once again I’m appalled at the large number of human beings willing to stand up and say, Yes, I support upholding the traditions of bigotry, cruelty and unfairness. Yes, I wish to continue interfering with other people’s right to happiness, and yes, I mean to maintain the current level of hatred and intolerance.
Congratulations! Because thanks to you, I’ve come to see it’s not enough to hope that people will do the right thing. It’s like the lunch counters of Alabama all over again. when in the 60s. Black folk came back to those eatiers again and again, and got knocked down again and again, until the bigots were too ashamed to continue their oppression.
So now I’m going to get married, and challenge today’s bigots to tell me that means nothing. Thanks for radicalizing me.
Okay, it’s a stretch to call me radical. I mean I’m no Wanda Sykes. But still! Even passive resistance can carry the day. Maybe it’s the only thing that does, finally.
Posted by Mead at 11/17/2008 05:47:00 PM