I'm not gay.
I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but if you saw how I dress, you'd probably be more likely to roll with the premise.
I mention this because when it comes to gay rights, most legislative outcomes theoretically don't affect me that much. I state this as a caveat, mainly so you'll know I have no personal agenda here, beyond simply stating what I think is right.
And, collaterally, to alert any members of the short female fashion model contingent of my readership who may have thought otherwise that no, we can totally date.
So here's my pitch: homophobia is bad.
I know. Radical point of view to take in this day and age. "While you're out on that limb, there, Adam, why not also speak out against anti-Semitism, traffic accidents, and squirrel-flavored ice cream?"
But here's the thing -- homophobia is bad for all human beings.
Again, duh. But let me try to make myself clear: I think that gay people should have the same rights and protections as everyone else, including the right to legally be in a miserable marriage.
But I'm not talking about what's good for gay people. I'm talking about those things that rampant homophobia leads to.
I'll give an example: just today (at the time of this writing) the Vatican was hit with allegations about a Vatican choir member who apparently procured men for a married high member of the Church. Procured men. Because the gentleman in question couldn't simultaneously be out and still keep his position.
And people will argue the hypocrisy of the thing. But it's not hypocritical; the Church has a very well-defined view of homosexuality. It's just unfortunate that many gay men have to hide it for fear of excommunication (I think). We're talking about someone who was a good enough Catholic to have carried the coffin of Pope John-Paul II when he was buried in 2005.
And I know that there's a whole biblical reason behind the Church's condemnation of homosexuality. But the Bible says a number of things that have conveniently been forgotten by Catholics. "Don't eat pork" comes to mind.
The Church, of course, also refuses to allow that there are gay priests. Let's see ... you're a Catholic teenager, you have feelings for other men, you know it's wrong, what do you do? Oh, right. You choose a vocation that forbids you from carnal relations with anyone. That'll solve the problem.
Look, I don't mean to rail against the Church, specifically. It just seems to me that a lot of the problems reflected in today's current issues would go away if the Pope were to just say, "Maybe being gay's not all that bad." Or something along those lines. I'm not gonna hold my breath.
Which doesn't mean that homophobia doesn't lead to rampant hypocrisy. Again, a headline from this week: "Anti-Gay Lawmaker Reportedly at Gay Club Before DUI Arrest." This is a man who voted against every single gay rights measure put in front of the California state legislature. And there was another, unidentified, man in the car with him.
And for those of you who think this is just liberal muckraking, I pulled that headline from the Fox News Web site. So there.
Obviously, this isn't the first time something along these lines has happened. I don't have any numbers, but prominent psychologists will tell you that among the top reasons for virulent homophobia is fear of one's own homosexuality. This includes the repression of it, of course, which extends to the repression of it externally, as well. Those same psychologists also agree that the most effective cure is slapping these men across the face and yelling, "Don't you get it? You're gay, dude."
I could be wrong about that last part.
One final example: Wheatland, Wyoming. For those of you not familiar with the story, it's pretty simple. As part of a national Anti-Defamation League program aimed at school bullying, a banner reading "No Place for Hate" was placed in Wheatland public schools. Seems simple, right? A decent slogan.
Until some people noticed that the banner also carried the logo of the Gay and Lesbian Fund of Colorado, one of the sponsors of the program. The school board then voted to force the removal of the banner. Apparently, Wheatland, Wyoming is, in fact, a fantastic place for hate.
According to an online column at the DenverPost.com, one board member who voted to remove the banner told a reporter, "The gay and lesbian community is promoting gay marriage. Wheatland does not promote gay marriage." What's worse is that the issue was revisited at the next school board meeting, and again the banner was voted to remain down.
What this really means is that a majority of the school board members (the vote, admittedly was 4-3) believe that an anti-bullying campaign is less important for the students to learn than sending the message that it's okay to hate homosexuals. This is appalling.
And these are just three recent examples of the collateral ills of homophobia. When a friend of mine, who lives in Denver, suggested that I write about gay rights for this column, I wanted an angle other than "gay people should have equal rights," which, truthfully, gets written about a lot. I have nothing new to add to that debate. I wanted to make an argument based on the harms that come from hate.
And so there were really two messages I hoped to send with this column. I hoped I could talk to those readers who maybe generally couldn't care one way or the other about gay rights. "I'm not gay; let them fight their own battles." In my own style, I'm trying to open their eyes a bit -- look, this is important. One day, it could wind up being your problem, too.
And the other clear message I wanted to get out there was that if you're one of those people who was considering making the move to Wheatland, Wyoming, don't do it. Their public schools now tolerate bullies.
A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.
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3.10.10 @ 8:00a
Gay rights is plainly and simply civil rights. If some of us can do, be, or have something, then all of us should be able to do, be, or have the same thing.
3.10.10 @ 10:52a
Sandra, while I agree with you, that's not really true. There are a lot of people out there who feel that homosexuality is a sin against God and homosexuals should be treated as sinners, much the same way you'd treat child molesters. Admittedly, I believe these same people are grossly misguided (the bigots, not the gays), but within their very narrow view, it's valid. Wrong, but valid.
3.10.10 @ 11:06p
I'd be willing to bet there are more people committing adultery than there are homosexuals.
Yet when someone commits adultery, identified as one of the 10 Commandments, they are not forced out of the church/forced to leave their marriage/have their children taken away or are unable to adopt children/beaten up/murdered.
How is it that two or three paragraphs in the Bible stands as law for some religous people, but a Commandment doesn't? The hypocrisy is so glaringly blatant, it's disgusting.
3.11.10 @ 10:18a
Actually, to be fair, the Old Testament contains 613 commandments. The Ten we're familiar with just happen to be the first ten, and therefore assumed to be the most important.
I agree with you on the hypocrisy, if only because the New Testament is assumed to replace the Old (as Paul taught), except in those rules from the old that various factions of Christianity feel like enforcing.
As I said in the column, I have yet to have it explained satisfactorily why homosexuality is bad, but eating ham on Easter is good (this an especially appropriate comparison, as the Torah refers to both homosexuality and breaking the laws of keeping kosher with the same word - abomination). Hypocrisy at its finest.