Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Love is the Only Equation That Matters Here

Today someone I know posted something mocking everyone who posted a pink equal sign to show solidarity for marriage equality.   The person suggested that it was less than genuine, simply a way of showing your cool.   

Here's the thing, dude.   It wasn't.  

I grew up in a time when queer, fag, gay, and homo were playground insults.   The only gay people you knew of were the flamboyant people on TV like Paul Lynde and Liberace, who were more comedic characters than "real" people.     Indeed, for many of us, homosexuality was something that made you laugh or made you uncomfortable.    For awhile, AIDS made it worse, as it helped further ostracize gay men.      Jokes were made about the victims of the disease and the disease itself.   Eddie Murphy built a whole routine around it that seemed really hysterical back in the mid 80's and simply horrific now.   

But luckily, times change, and so have most of us, including me.

For me, that time was college.   I cannot tell you the "a-ha" moment.   I came to Boston University from a small town in Kentucky where a large chunk of the people are very religious in the most devout fundamentalist ways.     I'd started to become a bit more liberal in my thinking in high school, but Boston opened up my eyes to a whole new set of cultures from around the US and around the globe.    There was an active gay presence on campus, and I started to meet a few of those people, who were nothing like the stereotypes I pictured.    But that didn't fundamentally change me.  

I still remember the stacks of free newspapers in the student union and picking up one of the free newspapers to read the articles.  It was only when I got to the inside when a friend said "like that paper" and laughed that I realized it was a periodical aimed at the gay community.    I literally dropped it and ran away.    Did anyone else see me?  The horror!      

Eventually I started working at a restaurant.   At the restaurant there were several gay students working.   They were out and proud, and funny as hell.    And they were human.  They had relationships, talked about music, and life, and politics, and what was going on around campus, and were a blast to talk to.   

But mentally, the tipping point had to be seeing the Names Project, the AIDS quilt that was touring different parts of the country.   I went for the unveiling and watched as the panels were revealed inside the auditorium. 

If you'd been there, you'd have heard a place as silent as a church, filled with the spirits of dozens of victims of the disease and the love of the people they left behind.    The quilts were full of pictures, mementos, and beautiful words for these people.   The faces in the pictures and the words of the people on these panels were not the faces and sentiments of people who were deviant, wrong, or evil.   They were of people who loved just like all of us want to and were hurting just like all of us would be.   If God wasn't in that room, then he wasn't anywhere.

Some twenty years later, I've had my eyes opened so much more.    I've watched one of my own relatives struggle with her own sexuality in the confines of a religion that seemed intent on telling her that homosexuality was a mortal sin and fear of what might happen if she came out.    My wife and I have developed several lasting friendships with men and women I work with, many of whom had their own struggles coming out, and most of whom are in devoted long term relationships with a partner.    We've also witnessed a friend's passing and the sorrow of the partner he left behind and were left wondering how awful it must be that you're not granted the same rights as a grieving heterosexual husband or wife would be in the same circumstances. 

None of these people leads a "deviant" lifestyle.  All of them are the type of people who would give you the shirt off your back.   They are decent, moral, loving, kind, caring, and they desire to be happy with the person they've chosen to spend the rest of their life with. 

So honestly, the idea that two adults who love each other cannot marry each other is simply ridiculous to me.    The Jesus I grew up hearing about taught us to love one another, be kind, and to look after the people who need our love the most.    

So if you don't like my equal sign, too bad.    If you don't want to marry a person of the same sex, don't do it.   But don't deny someone else their happiness with the person they love because your version of your faith finds their relationship wrong.   This country was founded on the ability to practice your faith as you see fit, not to force it on others.   The times are changing my friend, and if you oppose gay marriage, you're going to be on the wrong side of history.

So for Celia, Taylor, Paul, Bill, Jake, Greg, Steve, Kelly, Charlotte, David, our dearly departed friend Andrew, and anyone else I've left out, I posted my equal sign, and will stand behind my friends as they seek their right to enjoy the legal bond to the people they love.    It's the least I can do as a friend.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dummies for Dummies

After long ignoring the admonition from Mark Twain to "never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience", I decided to step back for awhile simply study the behavior of the dummies among us.   Here are some things I noticed. 

  1. Dummies believe everything they read that supports their worldview.   
  2. Dummies have zero desire to poke holes in their own beliefs or the articles, blog posts, Bazooka Joe wrappers that support their beliefs.    
  3. Dummies don't actually read anything beyond the title and first few sentences of any article that either you or they post online.     In fact, they may not even read that.   
  4. Dummies believe that everything on the internet must be true, except the extensively documented and sourced article you posted to contradict what they said.  That article is simply "what the media wants you to believe." 
  5. In the dummy's world, The Onion is CNN.   
  6. In Dummytown, a dummy's own personal "common sense" trumps expert opinion backed by enough scientific data and evidence to choke a planet full of sunburned dinosaurs.   
  7. Dummies believe that skepticism on its own is a virtue.  As long as you question something, it doesn't matter what the answers are.   
  8. Dummies never lose arguments or concede defeat.    They simply change the subject.   
  9. Dummies always win because....... HITLER!
  10. Dummies are like zombies.   They outnumber us and they eat our brains if we don't avoid them.