National Commentary

Johnny’s World: The Debate

besenmugThis week is a historic one. The Supreme Court heard the cases of the California gay marriage ban, or Proposition 8, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As a gay man, I am used to arguments about my way of life and my apparent “choice” to become gay but to be honest, I pay very little attention to negativity surrounding my lifestyle as I don’t want it to hinder the life I’m actually living. When LGBT stories are in the news, though, I pay attention to get a feel for what the opposition is using as grounds for argument and how it is still possible to have widely accepted discrimination in this great country. I want to know why they think they can treat me and others like me as second-class citizens.

As a small-town kid, with stereotypically normal family members who pay taxes, go to work every day and raise their families as best they can manage, I am aware that different lifestyles, cultures and colors of skin can seem daunting, not because there is actual fear, but fear from not understanding how it feels to be different. My father can’t understand what it means to be a gay man, even though he tries very hard for me. In the same way, I don’t understand what it feels like to be a woman of color, even thought I try very hard for Whitney. Many people try to understand what it means to live differently but, shockingly, many more respond to face values and what they learn through TV programming and the newspaper.

Despite our proud nation being built upon personal freedom and equality, we have never really seemed to walk the walk. Slavery was abolished in 1863, women got the right to vote less than 100 years ago, and it was only in 1964, when my parents were 7 years old, that the Civil Rights Act was passed. The United States was founded in 1776. The fight continues for all, but what is taking so long? As long as there were humans in this country, I can guarantee there were a few gay reps among them. I find that the average person thinks of gays either as fabulous, clever and well-dressed best friends, or pedophiles, club and drug addicts and/or the carriers of AIDS. That is quite a wide berth.

There are stereotypes attributed to every creed and color, but they only come into play when needed to protect the accuser. When it comes to gay marriage, I hear a lot of church speak and child welfare questions. Apparently, the stereotypical gay couple can’t let the gay rub off on their children, adopted or surrogate, because they’ll be a burden on society later, and it will apparently agitate Jesus. If there is any question of gay parents’ abilities to raise a child, I refer you to Zach Wahls (if you are unfamiliar, look him up). As far as Jesus is concerned, I’ll let you know what He says when I talk to Him tonight. “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

Being gay was not my choice. It is a gift that God bestowed upon me. I am the same in my differences. I am the same in my inability to choose my way of life. I am the same in my strength. I am the same in my weakness. I am the same in my ability to fall in love when I least expect it. I am the same in my inability to choose who I love; it comes from the soul. The people in charge of my community’s destiny and our rights have the right to choose what’s right for us but they think they have no similarity to us, that we are too different. Little do they understand, we are the same, and we deserve nothing less or more than the same.