Monday, October 24, 2011

A River Runs Through It

Last week, one of America's anti-same-sex marriage pundits (you know the guy...his name has become synonymous with "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex") said he'd "die to stop same-sex marriage."  My first first reaction? Great, let's kill him. My second reaction? Asking myself how people can be so stupid that they refuse to see when they are fighting a losing battle.

People who waste time and energry opposing same sex marriage are a lot of things: close-minded, ignorant, selfish, self-rightous, intolerant, bigotted. They're also just stupid. That's what I've finally come to see as the plain truth. People who fight the inevitable are stupid. If you were to jump into a raging river, the kind of river where white water rafting is popular, and stand there, hoping against hope to stop the water from getting past you...if you were to do this, I'd tell you that you were stupid. If you were to place a penny on train tracks, in the hopes that it would stop the 5:15 dead, I'd tell you that you were stupid. If you were to hand out bible tracts, believing you could talk hormone-raging teens from wanting to have sex, I'd tell you that you were stupid. If you think you can stop same-sex couples from loving one another, building lives together, forming families and, yes, getting married? You are fucking stupid. Because the movement for equal rights isn't a trickle. It's a roaring rapid. It's an express train without breaks. It's a horny 16 year old boy who'll fuck a jagged hole in the wall, if only he can get close enough. Maybe you can cause a ripple in the flow of water, or get a train to slow down for a second, or force a couple of teenaged lovers to find a more clandestine place to secretly have sex, but you won't stop these things. You can't. And you really, truly are stupid if you think otherwise.

This is what it's like in America, today, when it comes to same-sex couples. While you (yeah, stupid, I'm talking to you) rant and rave about how same-sex marriage will destroy family values, gay couples all over America are getting together, setting up lives, and even getting married. In short, they're quietly proving just how stupid you are. And they're not doing it less than they did before you started acting like a dog with a bone about this issue. They're doing it more often, and more publicly. Even if they're not getting legally married, they're buying homes together, starting businesses together, raising children together.  The minute one state allowed same-sex marriages, the flood gates were opened. And you cannot stop a flood. (There's a joke there, about a dyke, but I'm not going to be the one to make it.) YOU CANNOT. And you're stupid to try.

Last week, my good friend, Thom, married a man named Adam in a quiet, dignified ceremony in New York. Thom and Adam have been together for 20 years. They own two homes together. They collect art. They travel. They support a dozen charities. They throw intimate dinner parties. I've thought of them as a married couple for years. For all intents and purposes, they have been. Now, it's even recognized by law. They win. You lose, stupid. It's a done deal. It's over. The river is picking up momentum, and you're about to be toppled over and drowned. You can go home and lick your wounds, now. Or you can die fighting a losing battle. Be my fucking guest.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It Keeps Getting Worse

I won't post a link to the video, and I won't even mention the young man's name, but you know who I'm talking about: the teenager who, months after having posted his own video as part of the It Gets Better campaign, recently killed himself. His suicide, it is believed, was the end result of his having been bullied for being gay. This death, as heartbreaking as it is, points to the very reasons I've never cared for the It Gets Better campaign, and think it's a pointless feel-good exercise which makes it possible for people to spend ten minutes in front of a video camera, and then pat themselves on the back for all they've done in the name of gay rights.

The biggest problem I have with the campaign is that, well...its premise is a lie. For many homosexuals it never gets better. Living in a small town can suck, but living in a big city is no solution. Advising gay teens in Kansas to move to SF or NYC is ridiculous and illustrates an ignorance about what such a move would mean, financially, for most people. For most people in America, such a move would be impossible. And, even if they could make such a move, the truth is that hate crimes targeting homosexuals happen in SF and NYC, too. I've witnessed some really ugly homophobia in SF, and I've met people here who have been the victims of extreme anti-gay violence.

The fact is, for a lot of people, it just doesn't get better. A campaign that consists of people talking about how holding on and waiting until the future, because "it gets better" doesn't do a damned thing to address why it sucks to be young and gay, in the first place. It sucks because other people can be shitty. Not just other young people, but adults: teachers, clergy, neighbors, the parents of the kids who do all the bullying. Even the parents of the the young person who is gay. And, guess what? They don't care about any dumb campaign. They're not watching. They don't care that the gay kid from Glee has had his three minutes of talking about how it gets better. They can't stand that little fag any more than they can stand the little fag in their homeroom class, the little fag who lives next door, the little fag who is their own son.

The It Gets Better campaign is the Just Say No of the 21st century. Remember that? A bunch of anti-drug people talking about how saying no to drugs was AWESOME! You know who paid attention? People who were anti-drug. Do you believe, for even a minute, that some heroin addict not only watched as Nancy Reagan and Mr. T talked about how a drug-free life would be neat-o, but ran out to rehab to clean up his act? No? Me neither. Because it didn't happen. And, guess what? That asshole who gets in his pickup truck on friday nights, cruising around town, looking for fags to bash? Not only is he not having an epiphany about how awful it is to terrorize someone on account of who he or she is and how he or she loves...he's not getting on Youtube to find out what Judith Light or Liza Minelli has to say. Like Honey Badger, that asshole with his pickup truck really doesn't give a shit.

This poor kid, who ended his life...he made his own It Gets Better video. Like everyone who's made such a video, he meant well. In it, he talked about how terrifically awesome his friends were when he decided to come out as gay (he'd previously identified as bi.) At the risk of seeming crass and insensitive, this needs to be said: They were his friends. They were SUPPOSED to be terrifically awesome. That's a friend's job. It wasn't ever going to be his friends who were going to make life hell for him. His sad, hopeful It Gets Better video is a cautionary tale, and here are the Cliff's Notes: If you're a young gay person, don't go thinking things will get better just because someone says so in a video. Moving to SF or NYC is not a panacea. Your getting older won't make people suddenly treat you with common decency. The world is often a cold, hard place. Toughen up. Get some emotional armor. Learn to fight. Sharpen your mind and learn to cut others down with wit and logic. Read about the drag queens of Stonewall. Find quality people, and surround yourself with them. Remember what George Herman said: Living well is the best revenge. It won't just get better. You have to make it better, in your own small way, within your own, small life.

© 2012 Lana M. Nieves
Limited Licensing: I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution license, granting distribution of my copyrighted work without making changes, with mandatory attribution to Lana M. Nieves and for non-commercial purposes only. - Lana M. Nieves