Friday, October 26, 2012

Yes, I Do Take It Personally

I recently had a conversation with a co-worker about the election.  She’s a Republican and she is supporting Mr. Romney.  She also knows that I am gay, and we’ve joked about it; she has some friends she wants me to meet and do a little match-making.  In the course of the conversation — which was friendly at all times — I said, “You know that you’re voting for a man who would like to enshrine gay-bashing into the United States Constitution.”

She said, “Well, I disagree with him on that.”

“And yet you’re going to vote for him anyway.”

She said there are more important things at stake, like the economy and stuff.

“More important than my basic rights as a citizen?”

She replied, “Please don’t take it personally.”  And then we both went back to work.

But how can I not take it personally?  We’re not talking about the trade imbalance with China or unemployment numbers.  We’re talking about lives — my life, to be exact — and the simple fact that I and people like me do not have the same rights as a citizen of the state of Florida and the United States as those who are straight or live a straight life.  And there is a candidate for president who would like to keep it that way.

Every time I’m confronted with this mindset, my response is “What is it about me and the gay community that makes you hate us so much that you would actively work to change the founding document of this nation to permanently make me a second class citizen?  What is it that terrifies you so much?”  And the response is pretty much what my co-worker said: “It’s not about you.”

Yes, it is.  Because I’m a person.  I’m a citizen.  When the Constitution talks about “We The People,” I’m one of those people.  I didn’t give up the rights enumerated in that document because I happen to be gay any more than I gave them up because I have brown eyes as opposed to blue.  Lumping me into a demographic, along with being white and from a Protestant upbringing, doesn’t remove my basic core of being a person who has all of the same expectations of rights and responsibilities as the family that lives next door who happen to be heterosexual with the requisite proof playing in the back yard.

So when a candidate for president talks about preserving the “sanctity of traditional marriage” and “preserving family values,” the dog whistle becomes a blaring siren: Gay people, or those who do not conform to their measures of right and wrong to their exact specifications as defined by a book of myths, fables, and superstition do not belong among us.  And people who support those candidates are just as much a part of that dehumanization, even if they do want to introduce me to their cute friend.

I have no choice but to take it personally.  I’m a person.


It turns out that other people have had this kind of conversation recently, most notably playwright Doug Wright:

I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.” It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you “disagree” with your candidate on these issues.

What about you?

9 barks and woofs on “Yes, I Do Take It Personally

  1. Amen, brother. The lovely yet talented Mrs618 and I are with you all the way.

    D’you suppose the reason the tightie-righties are so uncomfortable is that they fear gay couples may not have the same marital problems hetero/conservative/Teabaggin couples so often experience? Like suddenly discovering they’re gay (or straight) after years of gay- (or straight-) bashing? The fact that well-adjusted, confident, self-aware (dare I say “happy”?) gays might not be as self-loathing as some of the wingnuts probably drives the aforementioned wingnuts crazier than having a niCLANG! in the White House.

  2. I must confess that eight years ago (or whenever I first met you at Shakespeare’s Sister), I was able to justify “civil unions”, but wasn’t convinced about marriage equality. Thank you for opening my eyes, my head, and my heart. I was wrong and I am sorry.

    And, yes, I’ve taken that lesson to heart. My fifteen year old daughter’s main reason for supporting Obama is that he openly proclaims for gay rights. And she’s quite vocal about it. Proud of her.

  3. I think part of it comes from the dissociation that the GOTea manages with others it knows. Your friend probably doesn’t consider you one of “those people:” she knows you as a person, and the labels she would use for most LGBT folks (the butch lesbian, the leatherman, the drag queen, etc) don’t apply. That those labels (as the sum of an identity) don’t really apply to any LGBT person doesn’t really occur to her.

    In a twisted way, the fact that she doesn’t think this is significant for you is a sort of compliment: you’re not, to her, one of those icky hom’secksuls who want to separate her from her husband so they can gay-marry him, or molest her kids, or take Gawd out of civil society just to be nassssty to good Xtianvolk. You’re a real person, and she gets that.

    What she really, really doesn’t get is that you’re far less unusual than she thinks – and that the “LGBT community” isn’t a bunch of sick twisted kinks.

  4. I too had a problem with gay marriage in the beginning. Thanks to MB, I have grown to be ok with the idea. However, after having actually been married for 16yrs. and two kids later, marriage is really hard. It is easy to get married and hard to go through divorce! Russ and I have been together for 26yrs. and we argue just like any other couple; but we will never marry. He has had surgery 6 times in the last 20 months and the looks I get at the hospital are really wierd when I am the responding person and contact for him. So I say, why not let citizens marry who they want and the devil and the Jesus Freaks be damned!

  5. Since my cardinal principle is that all people have value, denying rights to any group of people is the ultimate in immorality.

  6. I find the lack of prioritization galling. How can their alleged economic issues trump basic human rights? It is such selfishness that will be the end of America…..such inability to see beyond one’s own nose.

    I’d like to administer healthy mental enemas of Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperitive to these twits….lying to themselves and everyone else about why they support a party of racist, homophobic, misogynistic plutocrats.

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