I have a confession to make: I am a fag hag. If you are not familiar with the phrase, it means that I, as a heterosexual[i], have a disproportionate amount of homosexual friends in my inner social circle. For a while I was collecting lesbians and gays like barnacles. It wasn’t like they were a clique that I became part of, most of them were from completely different parts of my life and only knew each other through me. Two of them were grooms-people in my wedding. One was my Best Lesbian instead of a Best Man, a title she found singularly embarrassing (like this would ever stop me from using it). My pet theory is that I exude a pheromone that puts homosexuals at ease around me and they just kind of latch on.
But really, it’s less bizarre than that. You know how most people tiptoe around the subject of homosexuality? I don’t do that. I stomp on their toes and tease them about it constantly. That’s the kind of person I am. I’m forever joking with people about one thing or another. Are you short? I make terrible size puns. Are you Hispanic? I make deportation jokes. Are you gay? I make jokes that are completely unsuitable to be repeated here. The first time someone called me “El Diablo Blanco”, I thought it was the funniest I had ever heard and referred to myself as such for years. I still do, on occasion.
No one ever takes offense at this because if they’ve known me for more than five minutes they know none of it means anything to me. Sexual orientation means about as much to me as race, skin color, height, musical taste or any other aspect of a person does. I could care less if you sleep with a man, woman or blow up doll. It’s all the same to me and has been since I was old enough to know better. Ok, the blow up doll thing might be a bit too much for me, but I don’t judge (much).
I suppose that utter indifference can be very appealing to someone who has struggled with the burden of being gay in America. If you don’t think it’s a burden, you don’t understand what being gay in America entails. It means you are despised by a good deal of the country for something that is outside of your control. You are bombarded, at every turn, with the message that you are not the norm and, hence, not normal. Think of being Jewish after Bill O’Reilly wins his imaginary War on Christmas. Everywhere you look, nativity scenes, Santa Claus and only “Merry Christmas” is allowed as a greeting. Lighting a Menorah is frowned upon as deviant. Now imagine that all year round.
Billboards for men’s products display half-naked women, perfume ads show women seducing men and every single advertisement having to do with marriage shows a man and a woman. Same sex marriage is not only demonized by conservative politicians and pundits, it’s simply not legal in two-thirds of the country. That’s right; your love for your partner is legally prohibited from being expressed formally.
THAT’S what it’s like to be gay in America.
And the right thinks being gay is a choice? Who the hell would choose that?
Keep in mind, not only is same-sex marriage illegal in some countries but being gay itself is illegal and the penalty is death. Not THAT’S incentive! Think about the hypothetical thought process required to be “voluntarily” gay in such a place: “Hmmmm… My entire life I’ve been taught that being gay is evil and sick and will condemn me to hell for all eternity. Also, if I’m caught, I’ll be killed. That sounds AWESOME! Sign me up!”
Is it any wonder that I often consider conservative positions to be the result of brain damage?
Also, please consider the early days of HIV. After the first official diagnosis in 1981, President Reagan did what any good conservative President would have done; Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. Because of the initial target population, male homosexuals and, a little later, intravenous drug users, there was a hostile indifference to what was obviously an epidemic in the making. “Fags and druggies were getting their just desserts so let them die” was the prevailing attitude. This was, arguably, a greater crime than anything George W. Bush did while in office. By the time Reagan and his self-righteous Moral Majority co-conspirators realized that HIV doesn’t care who it infects and finally addressed it directly in 1987, it was too late[ii]. HIV had gone global. As of the end of 2009, approximately 33.3 million people worldwide currently have HIV[iii] and an estimated 25 million have died from it.[iv]
This disturbing, and disturbed, attitude is still prominently on display in conservative thought. The Conservapedia page on AIDS and HIV takes great care to link the spread of the infection with homosexuality. The entire opening of the article is dedicated to it. I forced myself to wade through the muck so you wouldn’t have to. If you’re strong enough, though, I recommend dropping by to see what hate disguised as knowledge looks like.
But what is it about gay sex that bothers conservatives so much? I believe the answer is not as complicated as one might think. Religion certainly plays a part in it, as it so often does in conservative politics. At least this time they are working from something factual. Not that I, personally, believe the Bible to be factual but that is neither here nor there: the Bible does, indeed, condemn homosexuality.
Leviticus 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.”
Pretty unambiguous. Abomination is a very strong word. So if you’re a true believer then obviously you have to hate homosexuality.
Except that isn’t the reality of it. No one in America, or the world for that matter, follows every command in the Bible. Not even the Amish and their pretty hardcore about their religion. I’m fairly sure the Pope hasn’t recently stoned anyone to death recently, either. So, no, because the Bible prohibits it does not seem to fully justify, or even explain, the extreme rage on display by the Religious Right (What? “Rage” too strong a word? Tell it to Matthew Shepard’s parents. See how that goes). Put it this way: if they really believed that homosexuality was evil because it says so in the Bible, why don’t they spend the same amount of energy fighting Red Lobster? Shellfish is also an abomination (Leviticus 11:9-12, Deuteronomy 14:9-10). I see Red Lobsters all over the place but never a picket in sight. Arguably, since shellfish is denounced in Leviticus before homosexuality, one might infer that it was more of an abomination. It’s all open to interpretation and that’s really the whole point.
There’s a great slogan among atheists that applies here:
“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott
Another way to put it is this: If your politics inform your religious beliefs, your beliefs are not well-informed. Even as an atheist, this seems blatantly obvious to me. Yet, we find time and again that conservatives pick apart the Bible to find the pieces that support their political views. If I were a religious person, I would find this sickening. Still, using religion to camouflage your bigotry is just sad. At least be honest enough to admit your sad prejudices of your own accord.
A major aspect of this intolerance is the “belief” that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”. This one is pretty easy to parse. If the Bible says that homosexuality is sin and people are born gay then the all-loving, benevolent God literally created people who are damned to Hell from birth. This makes no sense in a mythology whose central premise is repentance and forgiveness. How can one be expected to be forgiven for being what God made you? Conservatives are masters at cognitive dissonance but this is, apparently, one step too far.
Setting aside religion, we also have the standard conservative fear of the “other”. Homosexuals are just different! And as any good conservative knows, different is B.A.D. Always fear the other because the other represents change. Pure anathema to a conservative.
Conservative politicians, of course, know this and exploit it ruthlessly. Their reasons for opposing gay marriage are as numerous as they are ridiculous. And that is the subject of my next homo loving liberal tirade: Culture Wars: Episode Two – Attack of the Homosexuals! Or “How to pick apart conservative talking points.”
[i] I’m totally gay for Brad Pitt in Fight Club, but seriously, who isn’t?
[ii] http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-06-08/opinion/17428849_1_aids-in-san-francisco-aids-research-education-cases/2 For a more in-depth analysis of Reagan’s failure as President and as a human being.
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