A personal blog by a graying (mostly Anglo with light African-American roots) gay leftist leaning liberal progressive fit married college-educated former Baha'i NPR-listening Professor Emeritus now following the Dharma from California to Minas Gerais, Brasil.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Via the Advocate: Op-ed: All Gay People Are Screwed Up and It's OK
We all face a deficit for growing up LGBT in a straight world. Admitting
it is the first step in making sure the next generation gets a better
My boyfriend was sent to conversion camp. An ex was beaten by his
gay-hating father and brothers on a regular basis. My father wouldn’t
let me take bubble baths because they were too “gay.”
These experiences are not life affirming. So, during a recent
conversation regarding the disquieting behavior of some LGBT peers, it
seemed entirely innocuous to note that, “All gay people are damaged.” A
fellow editor agreed, but mentioned many folks would take offense to
that. That blew my mind.
Who could argue with that? How could we not be emotionally harmed by a
society that tells us we’re screwed up at every turn? I don’t know one
gay guy who never had “Fag” hurled at them, or many lesbians never told
they could switch teams if they wanted to. That’s a cakewalk compared to
the beatings and killings
we’re still subjected to on the streets or the fear most of us have
walking hand-in-hand with our partners and spouses, even in big cities.
Most disturbing is that our experiences, as Americans, are much less
frightening than those experienced by LGBT people in most of the world.
Glorifying victimhood is rarely helpful, but denying it exists is
ignorant and dangerous. All of this hatred we experience, whether it be
overt or covert, is internalized and exerts itself in different ways —
some succumb to drugs, promiscuous sex, or self-hate. But most of us
deal with it and prosper. I wonder if some gays would equate the
“damaged” label with weakness; that to be affected by an intolerant
society is a reflection on your own strength or perseverance. For me,
being aware of the injustices is part of being an active part of
society. Keeping your eyes open and reveling in tragedy are different.
It sometimes takes a harsh circumstance to remind us how different our lives are. In The Case Against 8,
HBO's powerful documentary on the defeat of California's antigay ballot
initiative, lead plaintiff Kristin Perry had an "a-ha moment" while
testifying in front of a federal judge. Defense attorney Ted Olson asked
Perry if she thought granting marriage equality to gays and lesbians
would have an effect on other forms of LGBT discrimination. Perry said
her whole life would have been different, and better, if the biggest
choice she made in it — marriage — was given the same weight and respect
as everyone else's: "So, if Prop. 8 were undone and kids like me,
growing up in Bakersfield right now, can never know what this felt like,
then I assume their entire lives would be on a higher arc, they would
live with a higher sense of themselves that would improve the quality of
their entire life."
Reflecting on that moment later, she said, "It was powerful to
connect the dots spontaneously on the stand and realize you’ve been
living under this blanket of hate everywhere you turn. People tell you,
'Tough shit, you don’t get to have that. You don’t get to feel protected
at work, you don’t get to feel your kids are like other people’s kids,
you don't get to feel like your relationship is like other people’s
relationships. You have to come out every single day everywhere you go,
and good luck with that... This isn’t just about me being a strong
enough person, this is what the whole lesbian and gay community is
dealing with and, frankly, any minority group."