Where are the individuals who do something not because it is popular and shows good numbers in the polls, or because it is financially sound, or because to do so would hurt their enemies, but they do something because it is the right thing to do? Are their no truly noble people in America who will stand up and say, “this is wrong” to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the religious right and all those who believe homosexuals are second-class or somehow inferior, or not deserving of equal respect to heterosexuals?
I’m not talking about equal rights, although they go hand in hand, but respect of individuals. I’m talking about taking away the feeling of oppression, and fear of violence, by a simple act of respect for individuality. It’s not as impossible as it sounds. A simple act of respect for an individual can make a world of difference for all individuals involved.
Herein lies the problem. Those opposed to homosexuality for moral and/or religious reasons cannot or will not respect the homosexual, seeing us as different and therefore not equal. These people see respect and acceptance as something to be bestowed upon us, as if they are better than the homosexual because they are heterosexual. We aren’t really looking at anything more than an attitude problem, and that is something we are told that can be adjusted.
When I say we, I mean the homosexual. You see, we are being told we can adjust our attitude and desire for legal equality downward and accept a status as less than equal to the heterosexual. We are told what I believe us to be by birth, through the make up of our DNA, can be changed through “conversion therapy” or prayer, and even through electro-shock and chemical adjustment.
The homosexual community has won a great deal of acceptance and tolerance from the heterosexual community during the latter part of the last century, but it isn’t enough. And now when “activist judges,” as the President of the United States calls them, take steps that would grant homosexuals equal financial rights in the eyes of the law, the President of the United States is willing to take steps to amend the United States Constitution, if necessary, to limit, although he calls it “protect,” the sanctity of marriage by only recognizing a marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
This act, we are told, is to protect the family structure as well as the sanctity of marriage. Since heterosexuals are the only ones legally allowed to marry in America, and they have already redefined the family structure to include multiple parental figures in the form of stepparents and step-grandparents the face of the family unit has already been altered. Through all these changes, the “family” in one form or another has survived and thrived.
Now that the legalization of same-sex marriage looms on the horizon, the homosexual community is considered a threat to all that is morally or spiritually right and descent, according to many of the religious right and the politicians they support.
Through all of this anti-gay or, as the religious right and those they support like to put a positive spin on things, pro-family activity where are the people who have the courage to stand up and say it is wrong to single out one segment of society as lesser in value than another because it dehumanizes that segment of society?
Where are the people who are heterosexual and accepting of the differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality to stand up and defend us as equal? Apparently there are some, but there just aren’t enough or they aren’t in powerful enough positions to be heard. Perhaps this is a good thing, because it shows the homosexual community who they can truly trust, and it tells the homosexual community it is time to stand up and fight for our selves.
Homosexuals did this once before through acts of civil disobedience in a move that because known as “the Stonewall Riots.” These acts of civil disobedience occurred in 1969, and were the result of a lack of respect for the individual. What we need to again do is to remind the heterosexual community, and obviously some in the homosexual community who are either fearful or complacent, that being homosexual doesn’t make us less than human.
All I am talking about is the simple right of respect for individuals. We all, homosexual and heterosexual alike, have been taught to respect the religious beliefs of others even when our own beliefs greatly differ. We have been taught to respect racial differences, and cultural differences. We have been taught to respect the opposite sexes as equals, and yet we still have trouble respecting an expression of love between two people of the same-sex.
While those who do speak up for the homosexual are only barely being recognized, those speaking up from positions of power to attempt to relegate homosexuality and rein in our rights as individuals have the national forum of a State Of The Union Address to establish a mindset of hate. By the statement George W. Bush made in that address he is creating an atmosphere of division between heterosexuality and homosexuality.
Yes we can have all our rights, all the rights associated with heterosexuality, should we just change who we are by birth to suit those in control of the country, but as the ex-ex-gay leaders who have tried to pray their way through conversion therapy and electro-shock and chemical adjustment and still have gone back to their DNA coded behavior show us, a homosexual is a homosexual. We can no more change what we are, and many of us don’t want to, than a leopard can change its spots.
So who will speak for the homosexuals? We, the homosexuals, will speak for ourselves. We are not inferior, or second-class simply because our DNA differs from that of the heterosexual population. We are part of every race, every culture, every religion, and as I see it we are the one uniting factor for the human race. As human beings we have the right to speak for ourselves, and deserve the right to be heard.
The question remains as to whether our voices will be heard, but we will speak up and demand our birthright be acknowledge and accepted, just as the birthright of every heterosexual is acknowledged and accepted. That birthright is respect.
Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.
ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS
more about robert a. melos
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
1.25.04 @ 2:22p
When homosexuality is, in fact, proven to be genetic in its origins, I believe that the final wall will have been smashed.
When it is found to be no more one's fault to be gay than it is to be Italian or African-American, there will hopefully not be any more "excuses" to discriminate.
1.25.04 @ 4:24p
With all due respect, David, that's BS. We live in a country where it is not official policy to discriminate - but that doesn't stop it from happening. Even if homosexuals are able to secure the basic rights that the rest of us take for granted, there will always be discrimination against them, or any other group perceived as "different".
1.25.04 @ 4:30p
I'm not saying it will all be a cakewalk, I'm just saying it'll take away the basic premise of the religious right's core argument that homosexuals are "choosing" this behavior.
1.25.04 @ 5:21p
David I agree that it is only a matter of time before there is more definitive proof of homosexuality being part of genetic make up, but Juli is also right in the fact that even if such proof were offered up the religious right, and many others, would ignore it and continue to discriminate. Let's face it, you can currently buy a book at the Grand Canyon gift shop that tells the creation of the canyon from the Creationist Theory. Aparently nothing existed much before 2000 years ago.
I don't pretend to have hope of a Utopian society of love, harmony and acceptance. I think the most realistic view of our world is one of greed and mayhem. The rich will continue to get rich, the poor will struggle to survive, and maybe, if we are lucky, some alien race of giant grasshoppers won't come along and decide to nosh on the planet.
My biggest question to men like George W. Bush and those opposed to homosexuality is, do they think by amending The Constitution to bar same-sex marriage homosexuality will suddenly go away, or go back into a closet so they don't have to see it?
I don't think they realize love, sex and money don't always go hand in hand. By telling me I can't marry another man it isn't suddenly going to make me want to be straight and marry Paris Hilton.
1.26.04 @ 7:29a
My biggest question to men like George W. Bush and those opposed to homosexuality is, do they think by amending The Constitution to bar same-sex marriage homosexuality will suddenly go away, or go back into a closet so they don't have to see it? Of course this is what they think. They have an almost identical position on a woman's right to choice.
1.26.04 @ 12:00p
And teaching abstinence in schools. If abstinence is all you teach, of COURSE kids will practice it. Right?
1.26.04 @ 12:16p
David, I actually disagree for two reasons: 1) just because something has a genetic cause doesn't mean they can't be discriminated against (see: black people); 2) There are plenty of religious zealots who don't believe what science tells them if it goes against the bible. In a country where the school board of Kansas can still consider teaching Creationism over Evolution, I don't trust the fringe elements to accept homosexuals just because science says it's "not their fault."
1.26.04 @ 1:40p
Even if someone stood up to Bush and Cheney - they wouldn't care. They didn't care when they world stood up and said "No war in Iraq." They have continued to ignore people who ask them to explain the lies that have come to the surface to date. And pretty much, if anyone stands up against them, they're bullied, slandered and run out of town. Or they'll reveal that your wife is a CIA agent.
They'll do whatever they need to to make themselves and their cronies rich or powerful. Bush will campaign so strongly for smaller government and less intervention in people's lives...until it goes against his own religious stance. Then suddenly, we need the U.S. Government to make a constitutional amendment about our personal lives.
Of course, as human beings we all have a right to speak and be heard. But good old George won't be listening. That's why I'm scared to death he'll win reelection. You think he pulls a lot of shit now? Just wait until he has 4 more years without anyone to answer to at the end of it. He's going to destroy anything and everyone who doesn't fit into his agenda. And the environment, the poor, schools, other countries, Democrats and homosexuals most certainly do not.
1.26.04 @ 2:52p
While a lot of what you say is correct here, Matt, you're starting to sound shrill and mildly hysterical about Bush in general. You know I love you, but dude, chill.
1.26.04 @ 3:24p
But see Juli, that's what pisses me off. People "just chilling." It amazes me that people just sit back and say, "Ah, Bush is such an asshole...but we won't make a big fuss about it or lift a single finger to see that he's accountable for what he's doing."
Personally, I'm furious at what he's doing to my country. And as you know, I'm not really one to just sit back and do nothing about it.
I would accept "shrill and mildly hysterical" if I wasn't bringing up many valid points that not a singe person has been able to rebut. (And I know there are several people on IM who voted for Bush.)
I rant about Bush. You rant about schools and education. I don't remember telling you to chill out the last time you went on and on about how fucked up your local school board is.
1.26.04 @ 3:50p
Brass tacks, Matt: what's the upshot? I, too, am completely infuriated by Bush and everything he stands for. I, along with a lot of other people, absolutely agree with you as to the wrongheadedness and hypocrisy of his administration. So what's the action you're proposing? My last attempt was to back Dean, but that doesn't seem to be going so well. Aaaaaaaaaeeeeeehhhhh!
1.26.04 @ 4:13p
Well, the upshot is, if you get enough people demanding the same thing - that's how change takes place.
Take 200 San Franciscans, march them down Market Street demanding a bill allowing same-sex marriages and no one in Washington, D.C. could care less. Get 20 million people in 100 cities doing the same thing, I guarantee you someone will listen.
So if it's just Robert yelling with this column, Bush will never hear him. But if his column gets 10 people to go act, and they each get another 10 and so on, then we've really got something.
And it's slightly off topic, but backing Dean - good! What I think too many people in this country believe is that they're supposed to vote for the winner. Wrong. They're supposed to vote for who they believe in most. It doesn't mean you're doing any less if you end up voting for someone who doesn't win. You're still doing something and that's more than most Americans can say.
1.26.04 @ 4:59p
I'm surprised at the press jumping on Dean the way they did over his "rant" as they have labeled it. When someone shows a passion for what they believe it is now labeled as a "rant". Personally that made me like Dean more, because he is willing to allow himself be seen as real instead of the plastic politicians the public seems to be craving.
I do agree with Matt in that I fear what destruction Bush/Cheney will do if re-elected. While my main concern is gay rights, I am concerned as well about the environment, truly protecting America from further terrorism, and education for future generations.
My fears on the destruction of gay rights stem from the fact, a simple statement by a world leader such as the statement made in the SOUA opens up an entire segment of society to potential violence because some lunatic fringe element will interpret the word "protect" to mean take violent action against those who would change the face of marriage.
The environmental fears are already evident in changing regulations to benefit corporate cronies by allowing higher levels of pollutants into our ecosystem.
On education I have heard the No Child Left Behind program isn't working as it was supposed to. I'm least informed on that one, since my friends and relatives with school aged children all sent their kids to private schools.
As for terrorism, I believe if a terrorist group really wanted to attack the US on our soil again, there is very little we will be able to do to stop them. I don't feel any more secure since the creation of the Office Of Homeland Security. Right now I don't think America is being realistic in their view of things, and I believe the terrorists are allowing that view. Face it, if the Israeli Army, one of the best trained in terror prevention, cannot prevent suicide bombings, ask yourself why America has not started suffering from such bombings? It's not because our forces are just that good.
1.26.04 @ 5:36p
Don't get me wrong, Matt - I am as anti-Bush as they come and have been for a good long time. I apologize for picking on you, but your voice carries where Bush is concerned. Perhaps if your general tone were more like that of your response to Jael above - which is to say, thoughtful and well-reasoned, and providing an alternative - it would not be so tempting to dismiss your viewpoint.
Be assured that I am not "just" bitching when it comes to my local school board - or for that matter, the city council, the local elections, the Governor of Illinois, George Bush OR the issue of gay rights (that last, in particular and in spades, as I've been an activist in that arena for more than 20 years now.)
1.26.04 @ 5:42p
A-a-a-and...back on topic, and incorporating Matt's observations as well: it is difficult to understand why, when the majority of the people in our nation are in favor of civil rights for all, this kind of anti-ANYBODY garbage gets tossed on the table in the first place.
1.26.04 @ 8:47p
There is an irony I seem to keep coming across in most of the Bush and Cheney speeches as of late. They are arguing that we must continue to fight for the freedom of the people of Iraq to live their lives as they choose, yet they support telling homosexuals how to live their lives.
A great deal of the "anti" sentiments come from the religious sector. Not only what we refer to as the religious right, but the Pope has condemned homosexuality on many occasions. I know the Pope carries a lot of weight with many people.
My fear, if you can call it that, is if it comes down to amending The Constitution, it will give those anti-gay activists the foothold they need to start reversing all the civil rights homosexuals have, not to mention reversing civil unions already in existence, and child custody cases that favored homosexual parents. Adoptions could be reversed, and families would be torn apart because some people think two mothers or two fathers aren't a good example for a child.
I once wrote a piece for one of my web sites urging the gay community to stop burying their heads in theme parties and closets because I don't want to be the guy standing in an Ashcroft detention camp in the middle of Nebraska next to three drag queens saying "I told you so."
I don't have much faith in my fellow man because I talk to women who still think men should handle politics and will vote for whomever their husbands tell them to. I don't understand how, when a girl gets a man, she suddenly has to get his opinion on everything. "Honey, what do you think I should do? Buy Vogue or vote Republican?"
1.26.04 @ 10:14p
Not always the case, Bobby. John came home from the last Presidential vote looking haunted. When I asked him why, he admitted that he had gone against his upbringing and voted Democrat, because he has a daughter and because he has gay friends. Change is coming, it's just coming in small chunks.
1.27.04 @ 12:13a
Unfortunately we are in need of change in great numbers this year. According to a current AOL poll, Bush has the fear of terrorism factor in his favor. People will line up behind him because he did such a good, in their opinion. I don't say he did a bad job immediately following 9/11, but I do say, what other choice did we have at that point? He was already in office, he was the President, it wasn't like we could just go off and pick a new one at that moment. He held things together with competence. It's everything he's done prior to and after 9/11, with a few good weeks from 9/11 through 10/1/01 that I disapprove of.
If we want to talk about living on your laurels, Bush is certainly toting out events of three years ago to his favor. So he was in office yet when Saddam was captured. Big deal. I heard the Kurds got him first and gave credit to the Americans so Bush could look good.
2.2.04 @ 11:11p
I believe most of the bigotry people feel against a particular group is mainly out of ignorance.
"Duh," you say.
Seriously, though, it's a mob mentality, when, by contrast, if someone who claims to be against homosexual unions actually gets to know two people in love and committed who also happen to be homosexual, that person's attitude changes for the better.
One on one, one person at at time, would make an impact. But most people in America don't dare to step out of their social circle, however it was formed.
Even bigger than the problem of denying legal homosexual unions is the continued forced alchemy of church and state. As a "spiritualist" (what I label myself to appease everyone else's need for labels), I grow increasing tired of various Christians in government positions forcing their select doctrine down my throat. I don't denounce anyone's religious beliefs, as long as they don't hurt/brainwash/sacrifice anyone else. But if I recall, it's this country's right to have separation of church and state.
And that's not happening at the moment.
2.3.04 @ 10:53p
Tracey, very true. When it comes to one on one education, in all matters, the world is sorely lacking. Yet we have people like Dick Cheney and Dick Gephardt who are not standing by their homosexual children. What's worse is, the kids are accepting their parents without standing up for themselves.
As for the religious aspect of American government, I am very unhappy. If I wanted to vote for God, I would've written him in. Yet I now read about the state of Georgia playing semantics over the word "evolution." It doesn't give me much hope for the human race.
2.3.04 @ 11:31p
I keep going back to that "we need change in bigger numbers" thing - I agree, we do, but how do you get change in bigger numbers? You start with one person. I hate to be the cliche-tosser here, but Gandhi said, "You must BE the change you wish to see in the world" and he was right. We must lead by example - which is why I harp on everybody to vote, for one thing. My goodness, we have so much POWER in that privilege, why on earth wouldn't everyone want to exercise it?
You know, I boycotted the Cracker Barrel restaurants for years because of their anti-gay discriminatory hiring policies. One of my friends, a gay man in fact, shook his head and said, "Honey, personal boycotts don't work." I said, "That's OK - I can live with myself if I know they aren't using any of MY money to perpetuate that policy, and that's enough for me." But you know what? They changed the policy. Did they change it because I personally boycotted? YES! I believe they did - they caved because I and others just like me stood up to say "NO. You can't do that, we won't allow it." We made positive change happen.
2.4.04 @ 3:12a
You're right Juli. Each one of us can make a change. I think that's why, on my own sites, and even on QBliss, and once-in-a-while here I'll make a point of writing a gay oriented article and usually I "bash" gays, metaphorically speaking, over the head with a wake up call to let the rest of "my people" know that there is more to life than theme parties, fabulous non-stop sex, Liza/Judy/Barbra/etc.
I don't really do too much gay oriented stuff here because folks here don't really need the smack upside their heads. They are intelligent, informed, and capable of juciy debate without losing it. I like to do fiction here because there is less of it here.
On the other hand, preaching progay stuff on gay sites is pretty much a preaching to the choir. I think there is a lot of good organization among the gay community, but we still need so much more in the way of support groups for those who are still closeted, still living in fear of violence, and still in denial. While homosexuality may be in our DNA, the ramifications of being something that portions of society hate enough to propose a constitutional amendment to prevent you from simple courtesies of respect can have a very detrimental effect on a psyche.
Change has come, and more is needed. If everyone were as open and accepting as you, and many here, it would be the perfect world.