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Politics

NO BIG DEAL

If you’re gay, you’re not automatically fascinating. Sorry, gay brothers and sisters, but you’re not courageous or unique for simply being born. It wasn’t your idea to be gay, just the cards you were dealt. Being gay, Black, Asian, left-handed, freckle-faced or tall isn’t any reason for others to make a fuss over you like you invented something. That would require an engaging personality, some unique ability or an exceptional character. While there’s plenty of you that are plenty fascinating and engaging, it’s by no means universal, just like any other subset of humanity. And of course you all deserve equal rights, again just like anybody else; the outstanding, the mediocre, the barely tolerable and the annoying. By this time in human history it should be No Big Deal, but somehow it still is. 

By all means, fight for your right for everything that others take for granted; marriage, divorce, pain-in-the-ass kids, alimony, getting killed in combat, the whole nine. It’s not all peaches and cream being equal. Just don’t get insulted if some of us consider your sexual orientation to be No Big Deal. Maybe you should wish more people, like the nation’s voters and grandstanding politicians, also thought it was No Big Deal. As for those of us who want you to settle for some lame “civil union” or a confusing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, well, ask them how they’d like that treatment, along with the implied shame about the way they were born and encouragement to be “in the closet” about who they really are. 

How did all those Jim Crow laws work out for America’s Black citizens for the hundred years between the Civil War that set them free from slavery and the Civil Rights legislation that confirmed their equality? In short, not so good. Just like being gay, being Black is not contagious and is generally No Big Deal, that is, until laws are passed making you, if not exactly a criminal, a second class citizen. Unlike being black, though, being gay is a crime in many parts of this nation and in almost every state gays are legally prohibited from marriage. The odd thing, though, is that even today Black people are jailed at the highest rate of all our citizens, the direct result of their perceived inequality and the very real lack of opportunity. It’s difficult to be in the closet about your skin color.

Sure, we’ve got our first Black President, but too many Black Americans are still locked in a cycle of inequality that leaves too many of them in poverty, ignorance and life on the margins of society. It’s a true and shameful fact that is far too slow in changing. When the Civil Rights laws were enacted, no one insisted that bigots or active oppressors give up any of their rights as the cost of acting rotten for so long. How long will gays be persecuted? While gays don’t suffer from excessive incarceration, they are being denied equal civil rights in the poster boy nation for civil rights, the United States of America, and that is a sort of prison in and of itself. That’s like being the only kid at the party who doesn’t get any ice cream. Try not to resent that

Gay people’s struggle for equal rights, like Blacks before them, is not asking for anything not guaranteed to every American in our Constitution. America was started with the statement “all men are created equal” in our letter of intent, the Declaration of Independence. In none of the provisions of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is there a qualification that reads: “Except for homosexuals.” The fact that many people obsess over homosexuals says more about themselves than it does about homosexuals. What the hell do they care? No one’s forcing them to participate, or even pay attention, so what’s really behind their obsession?

Do gay people need to be ashamed of themselves to make others more comfortable? Ashamed of what? Being the way they were born? And how will their shame help anybody? If you don’t like them or you fear them or are repelled by them, keep on walking, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t think you can discriminate against them. That’s not up to you. There may be people who dislike, fear and are repelled by you. Which of your civil rights will you be willing to give up because of that? 

How ashamed will you be compelled to feel about yourself? How pleasant will you be when you are told you are less of a human being than others? Or would you insist that you too are one of God’s children, worthy of the same consideration and enjoying the same rights and privileges as any other person and allowed to live your live as you see fit as long as you are not harming anyone else? Odds are you would do just that. Do no less for your brothers and sisters, no matter how you feel about musical theater or women in plaid shirts and work boots. In America, human rights are supposed to be universal and No Big Deal. The Big Deal is when they are denied to anyone for any reason.

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