There’s enough hate, discrimination, injustice and bigotry (HDIB) generated against Americans of all stripes, that no one group can ever begin to absorb all of it. No need to covet another’s HDIB. There’s plenty to go ‘round. A bountiful amount available to all.
Some groups have suffered different, longer or more than others, but all experience the crushing weight of HDIB. That’s why it’s so amazing for all of us to be part of this moment in history when one group of Americans, which has had more than it’s share of HDIB, has been able to gain a historic political breakthrough – the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. A victory of which all of us can be proud.
The gay and lesbian community suffers HDIB. We are, perhaps, late arrivals, bringing up the rear, so to speak, in a sad parade of HDIB targets. Throughout history, gay men and lesbians have been mostly invisible. It took World War II, with the shift of population from all over America to the coastal cities, to expose us all to a more diverse society. In 1948, television, society’s newest mass medium, swept into American homes and President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 desegregating America’s military.
Coinciding with these events, homosexuals began to peek out from behind the veil of invisibility. I’m going to select 1950 – less than 60 years ago – as when the public first awoke to the homosexual persona. We crept out of the shadows and began advancing into the public arena. And, we certainly weren’t called gay men and lesbians. We were called: queer, faggot, fag, fairy, dyke, queen, diesel dyke, fruit, fey, limp-wristed, puffter, drag, pervert, deviant, lesbo, auntie, sissy, swish, pansy, prissy, homo.
Imagine, only 60 years of visibly directed gay/lesbian HDIB. Not 400 years, as with black slaves or Native Americans. Not centuries, as with women and religious folk.
I remember years ago when some thought that there were no gay/lesbian people over the age of 30. I can personally attest to being called an “Elder of the Community” in a tribute speech by Rich Jennings, then the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), during an event where my partner and I were being honored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Younger gay men were the public face and currency of homosexuality. We were the ripe old age of 50!
But surely, there were gay men and lesbians before 60 years ago. The village weirdo? The Greek General or Roman Emperor? Lesbos on an Isle or the witches of Salem? The strange cousin, lonely old spinster or unmarried uncle? The nun, priest or Pope? Writers, actors, musicians? Yes, but history didn’t record that – exactly. Gay men and lesbians, officially, didn’t exist. We were invisible.
In today’s world, we’ve learned that gay men and lesbians are found in every culture, every race, at all socio/economic levels, in every profession and at every calendar age. We are your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles – every family member. Homosexuality exists in the world alongside heterosexuality. For gay men and lesbians, our sexuality is as natural as being straight is for the other 90% of the world.
There is an insidious evil with invisibility: self-hate and denial. You can never be yourself. Who would want to be you? Never be able to express, freely and outwardly, the one common intimacy that every human possesses and desires – sexuality coupled with love.
To help heteros understand, pretend that heterosexual intercourse is outlawed.
For a moment, imagine how you would react, as a heterosexual, if your sexuality was deemed illegal and that you would be arrested and shot for having sex. Impossible, you say? We must have heterosexual sex to guarantee the future of humanity. But, wait, what if, at some point in the future, we elect a President who needs to protect us by getting rid of everyone who doesn’t fit his definition of a “real” American. Like Nazi Germany, he wants only pure, loyal, patriotic Americans around.
Meanwhile, cloning has progressed to where human clones are viable. Leaders, even religious ones, decide that the best way to insure that America stays “real,” would be to clone themselves. Imagine the same President – going on and on forever. Only people who had registered, passed tests, and paid their fees would be allowed access to cloning. Wombs would be deactivated. Politically correct wombs would be fertilized with enhanced eggs so new and improved strains of human DNA could be introduced into the clones. Having babies the old-fashioned way would be illegal. Anyone having heterosexual intercourse would be arrested and shot.
Only homosexual sex acts would be legal, approved by the government and accepted by the church.
Bizarre? Yes. Within the realm of human imagination and reach? Also, yes.
In today’s world, if your family finds out that you are homosexual, you might be sent to an asylum, convent, or attic. (Fortunately, shock treatments and mental hospitals are a thing of the past.) At the least, you may be thrown out of your family. If your church finds you are homosexual – you may be excommunicated. You will be told that God Himself, has condemned you to a life filled with HDIB. And, you will burn in Hell, forever. Maybe it was better to stay invisible. After all, what’s so bad about gay sex acts being illegal? Being thrown out of your family and all of society’s institutions? Being beat-up or even killed? What does it matter if gay men are equated with pedophiles? Homosexuals deserve it, don’t they?
And, how crazy is it, if your family throws you out for being God-given gay? Well, how crazy would it be if a white couple threw out their own child because the child they created was white? Nonsense? Yet parents, who have no choice over their child’s sexuality, do just that to their gay children. Unbelievable, huh? Further, what if a black church threw out parishioners because they were, well, black? Ridiculous? Yet gay men and lesbians of all colors are regularly thrown out of their churches because the sexuality God created and gave to them is not understood.
All of us know that God creates, He doesn’t grant choices.
The way to stop hate, discrimination, injustice and bigotry, is to stop practicing them.
Articles by Carl Matthes: