Sunday, February 14, 2016

Who Am I to Judge?

When same sex marriage became legal in the USA, less than a year ago, it woke up feelings I'd had about being gay which I'd long ago tucked away, because there really wasn't anything I could do about them, except get on with life as well as I could, on my own terms.

The death of Antonin Scalia has done something similar. For all those who think the public jubilation over his death is inappropriate, I have one message: this was a man who worked really hard, for a very long time, to create a world where people like me would be considered less than human. This was a man who not only considered homosexuality a crime, but compared it to murder. A man who believed that banning homosexuality was no different than banning child pornography. A man who argued that all faggots and dykes should do was stop having sex with people of the same gender, if they wanted to be treated as human beings with rights.

No one was born in 1967 hoping to be homosexual, or trying to be homosexual. Why would any of us? But a hell of a lot of us in 2016 embrace who we are, have no shame about who or how we love, and make no apologies for the way nature made us.

I think it's safe to say that every homosexual is well acquainted with fear - a kind of fear that heterosexuals will never know, can never know. The kind of fear which leads us to pretend our partner is actually our cousin, while traveling in less-than-safe places to be gay. The kind of fear that keeps us from even mentioning we have a partner, because it could cost us a job or an apartment. The kind of fear that leads us to allow others to set us up on blind dates with people of the opposite sex, just to be on the safe side, and not raise suspicions. The kind of fear that makes us lie to and hide the truth from family members, friends, neighbors, doctors, employers, clergy, bank loan officers, the police, store clerks, and maybe even the mailman. The kind of fear that makes people choose their clothing carefully, and not get that haircut,  or buy that shirt, because they might be dead give-aways - give-aways of a truth that is not safe to live out in the open with.

This isn't hyperbole. It's all real. These are all examples of reactions to the fear that has come with being a homosexual in America that I have either experienced, myself, or had close friends experience. One woman I know locked herself out of her car and, instead of calling the local sheriff to slim-jim his way in, so she could get her keys in a matter of minutes, opted to wait a full week, until the friend who had a spare set arrived in town. Her reason? There was a copy of a lesbian novel on her passenger seat, and she couldn't risk having local law enforcement notice it and figure out she was gay. It would have made her life in that town unsafe. She lived in fear.  To a certain extent, I know this fear. For the most part, I've managed to ignore it, but it's always been there - dormant, but not dead. Scalia's death has woken up not the fear, itself, but the sensory memory of what that fear feels like - what it feels like to travel in America with another woman and ask for a room with two beds, just for show. Just to be on the safe side. Just to make sure nobody would figure out the truth and make us pay for it. That's a horrible feeling.  It's not just fear, but humiliation.

Antonin Scalia liked that homosexuals lived in fear and humiliation, and fought to make sure things stayed this way, or maybe even got worse. I don't care that he was a human being who was alive and is now dead, or that he left a widow and children and grandchildren: he was a bad person. He was the enemy.

In fact, I'm really glad he's dead. I hope he realized he was about to die, and that it scared the hell out of him. I hope he knew, for even just a moment or two, what true fear really felt like. I won't even pretend to wish that he rests in peace. I hope that overwhelming fear was the very thing which surrounded him during his last moments. That would be true justice.