My blog being called "The Questioners Blog," there is a question I have been asking for many years, and not one person has been willing or able to help me understand the answer: If homosexuality is a choice, who would choose it? Who would choose a life in which he/she will spend adolescence feeling outcast, a life in which one is ridiculed by some groups, feared by some groups, and condemned to both hell and misery by others? There is a "Christian Minister" who travels around the US with some people he calls his "followers," but I've read that they are really just a few people he's related to, holding protests at the funerals of our soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. This charlatan claims that our soldiers are dying because Americans are tolerant of homosexuality. There are people who believe it is ok to rant, discriminate in housing and jobs, wear clothing with anti-gay slurs, and the list goes on.
Some background; I planned growing up to be an actor, so I hung out with lots of "arty" types, of whom there were gays. I have also worked in some other businesses which traditionally have a large gay presence. Many of my coworkers became friends, though I myself am unrepentantly straight.
There was a young man with whom I worked at a bookstore in the mid-1990s, Patrick. Everyone knew that Patrick was gay, but he had not come out. Patrick was probably in his mid-20s. He finally did come out, and one evening we were talking about his decision to make it "official." I asked him when he realized that he was gay. He said he "knew" when he was seven years old, and had a crush on Leif Garrett, the pop star.
Now, being a southerner, I have lots of baptist friends, relatives and acquaintances. The are unapologetically anti-gay rights. One of them posted a rhyme the day of President Obama's speech to the Human Rights Commission that ended with a line about Obama says you can "ask and tell" and you won't go to hell.
I kept my visceral reaction to myself until I took out my laptop today, though it has been in my thoughts all day. On the one hand it is interesting that President Obama would be assigned the power and/or authority to decide who goes to hell. Especially since my friends on the right have lived the last nine months in terror that anything the president does will thrust our country on the path to certain destruction. Now he gets to make big decisions like heaven and hell? These same friends scorned the president's Nobel Peace Prize because they claimed he has done nothing. But those are questions for another day. The question for today is whether heaven and hell are even the issue in the United States of America, circa 2009, regarding the push for equal rights for gays, lesbians and transgender Americans. I think not. I think the question is much simpler. Were the framers of our Declaration of Independence telling the truth when they wrote that "All men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
in⋅al⋅ien⋅a⋅ble /ɪnˈeɪlyənəbəl, -ˈeɪliə-/ –adjective not alienable; not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated: inalienable rights.
If the Declaration of Independence is a true document that is relevant to Americans today, then there should be no question about whether all American citizens should be given the same rights as everyone else. Questions of righteous reward or unholy retribution are not for us, and not for now. Most of the people I know who are so certain that allowing gays equal rights will destroy their worlds either do not know any gays, or are not in contact with any on a regular basis. They will likely never have to see any boys kissing, and will certainly not lose jobs to gays because the access to employment and housing becomes equal. In fact, I will bet the farm that there will be fewer boys kissing on TV news once the playing field is levelled and it is no longer news. As far as movies and television are concerned, I'm guessing none of these folks ever saw "The Crying Game," "Angels Among Us" or "The Birdcage."
So it's time to reframe this debate in an honest way, not with bitterness, but with our eyes open to the reality of what our Declaration of Independence should mean to every person born or naturalized into this wonderful country that we all love.