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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gay Today?

If you watch TV or follow the news at all these day’s gay marriage and gay rights are often front and center. Being gay has become more main stream. The gay community has a lot of support from younger people, people on the left politically, and a number of straight women who have gay friends. There are also a lot of straight men like myself who think everyone should have equal rights without any qualifying requirements.
The opposition against gay equality comes mostly from right wing Christians and to a certain extent a number of black males. Some of the viewpoints from right wingers seem to change when they discover one of their own children is gay. (Dick Cheney?)
A reasonable estimate would be that 5-8% of the population of any country is probably gay. Any way you slice it that is a lot of people. In Canada that would be 1.7-2.7 million gay people. In the US that would be 16.5-26.6 million gay people. Together they have a common cause and a lot of political clout, particularly in more liberal US states.
To not understand that people are born gay and that it is not a learned trait is simply ignorance. The idea of de-gaying people is equally as stupid. Right wing US politician Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus operates a business that claims to be able to change gays into straights. If that isn’t weird enough Marcus appears to be gay himself.
Same sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005. It was reaffirmed in 2006 in a vote in the House of Commons 175-123. Most of those voting against same sex marriage were Conservatives. In the US same-sex marriage is legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Several more states may legalize gay marriage but there is still a long way to go for that to happen in the deep south.
There isn’t much question that people who consider themselves liberal are often more empathetic to all types of minorities including the LBGT community. It wouldn’t be a big stretch to claim that most of the television shows we watch or movies we see are written from a left of center point of view. Most creative people in all of the arts lean to the left. Consequently over the last number of years we have seen more and more gay characters in dramas and situation comedies on TV making being gay far more acceptable than it used to be.
Gone mostly are the days when Rock Hudson, Tony Perkins, Raymond Burr, Tab Hunter, Richard Chamberlain, and even Liberace were in the closet. Today we have politicians, news readers, political pundits, famous actors and actresses, singers, and comedians who are openly gay. The world hasn’t spun off of its axis.
The Amazing Race and Survivor usually have one or two gay participants. Ellen Degeneres is loved by millions of daytime TV viewers. Dancing With The Stars has at least one gay judge. Clay Aiken became famous on American Idol. Even daytime soaps now have gay characters. Cable TV stations bring us a wide variety of home décor, fashion and cooking shows often hosted by gay people. TV can’t get much gayer than Glee. To me there isn’t a clearer head on TV when it comes to US politics than Rachel Maddow.
A good part of western society has become far more inclusive when it comes to gay people. We still see new stories from time to time about gay people being beaten up or even killed. Perhaps a bit less than we used to. We still hear some right wing politicians from time to time doing a rant on the evils and unnaturalness of homosexuality using their belief in god to justify themselves often forgetting what their bibles say about treating others with dignity. We also know that being openly gay in some countries in the world can be punishable by death.
When it comes to gay marriage I have to admit that I have myself evolved on the subject. I used to think that civil unions were the answer. I could see where many religious types could be offended if gay marriage was OK’d. I changed my mind for a number of reasons. The first reason was because I realized that gay people getting married posed no threat to anyone. My second reason was why should I really care if religious types are offended? They have no problem offending those without the same beliefs. If they don’t respect me why should I respect them? The third reason I had was that only through gay marriage could gay couples have the same rights as the rest of us under the laws.
One thing that has often disturbed me is people trying to rewrite history. I am also not that fussy about political correctness when it is used to obscure the truth. I never really liked the idea of some subjects being taboo. I realize that there is a time and a place for some discussions but there should be that time and place at some point.
I am not writing the following as a scold but more to offer some opinions that all isn’t what it sometimes seems. I fully expect to get bashed for some of my opinions. I can take it. Although my leanings are almost exclusively to the left I have a problem with some other lefties who sometimes look at issues in far too simple terms. To some, if you criticize anything to do with the gay lifestyle you are immediately labelled homophobic. One might also be accused of being a closet gay and another common response is “Thou dost protest too much.” I hate to break it to these folks but I have never had a homosexual thought in my life and I am not alone.
The Stonewall Riots
The Stonewall Riots were a landmark in gay history. The Stonewall Inn was a seedy hotel owned by the Mafia in New York City. The hotel didn’t even have running water behind the bar, there were no fire exits, and the toilets regularly overflowed. Almost all of the clientele were gay men or tranvestites. In June of 1969 the hotel was raided by the NYC police and many of the patrons were arrested. A crowd started to form outside of the hotel and a riot ensued. There were a number of reasons for the riot including police brutality. People in the crowd which was becoming bigger and bigger, realized that they had the numbers to fight back. The event is looked upon as a landmark also because gay people realized that if they organized as a group they could be effective and shortly after the riot a number of new gay organizations came about.
What isn’t often noted is around the same time gay men would often meet in dark rented tractor trailers in New York and have anonymous sex with complete strangers, not exactly what one might call a healthy lifestyle.
How HIV/AIDS evolved is too complex to write about here. The fact is that anyone who was infected was doomed to die a number of years ago. Today it is possible to still live a long life if one is infected because of newer medicines. A number of gay men due to their sexual urges infected other gay men and wouldn’t use a condom. That they did this to their friends or even strangers is not a pleasant chapter in the history of the LBGT community.
Pedophilia Verses Homosexuality
If you look up the word “pedaphilia” in the dictionary it alludes to sex between an adult and a prepubertal child. We have all heard about Catholic priests molesting young boys and girls. It seems to me to be disingenuous to simply label a priest who has sex with a 15 or 16 year old boy as a “pedaphile” when in actual fact he is committing a homosexual act. It also seems to get a bit fuzzy as to what constitutes being a boy. Is he still a boy if he is 20 years old? Like it or not sex between two people of the same sex is a homosexual act.
Straight Women And Gay Men
It should be no secret that some of biggest supporters of gay men are straight women. Some say it is because often they think alike in some cases there is some truth to that. The obvious fact is that gay men are no threat to straight women sexually which immediately breaks down some barriers. What isn’t mentioned very often is that a number of women have had bad experiences in dealing with men. Often gay men offer them an empathetic ear to their tales of woe. More than a few women like the idea of pay back and if straight men are uncomfortable around their gay friends some may savour the moments. Because there is no sexual threat from gay men, straight women often give gay men a lot more latitude than they would a straight guy.
Being Artistic And Creative
If you’ve watched TV at all in the past 10 years you would think that if you are male you would pretty well have to be gay to have a valued opinion on interior design or fashion style. News flash! Many men are quite capable of making their own decisions when it comes to these things. A lot of people are quite content just wearing an old pair of jeans and a tee shirt in their leisure time.
For The Record….Some Things Most Straight Men Are Just Not That Interested In
Gay Pride parades may be a requirement for politicians to attend these days but lots of men are not that comfortable seeing other men dressed in drag. Many of us don’t find it hilarious. Some of us are also not that fussy about some gay people simulating sex acts on a float, something a lot of parents don’t want their kids to see. If we did that we could very well be arrested. The ballet and Oscar parties are a few other things many hetero men have little interest in. Judy Garland was OK in The Wizard of Oz when we were kids but a lot of us don’t have a fondness for her. We aren’t evil if we aren’t partial to these things. We have other interests.
Being The Center Of Attention
I know to some this might sound a bit like stereotyping but I have been to a number of parties in my life where a gay person has demanded attention by talking loudly and making statements that are somewhat shocking. It is like they are showing off their gayness like it is some gift that they have received. Sometimes it as if they are playing the part of a diva. Sometimes they take little verbal shots at those that don’t seem amused knowing full well they are in an environment that would make you feel silly if you called them out for their childish behavior. In straight circles a person like this would sometimes be called a boor. Being gay doesn’t automatically make you funny either.
Pettiness And Meanness
It isn’t exclusive to the gay community but there are a number of gay people on TV who comment on celebrities, politicians and other people often ripping them apart. Big deal if some woman chooses a dress that they don’t like! What particularly ticks me off is when someone is attacked who is going through marriage difficulties or has a drug problem. You would think these gay critics would have a bit more empathy for other people and their coping problems. They should know that their victims also often have children who watch TV.
Predatory Sex
I am not going to say that there are no heterosexual predators that have taken advantage of younger girls sexually. They are out there. Teenage years and early twenties can be confusing times whether one is from a good home or not. Every year there are confused young people with little in the way of money to survive on that turn up in larger cities. Often they come from families where abuse was common. They are at a point in their lives where they are just trying to survive and are often very vulnerable. It isn’t a rarity for an older gay person to provide them with food and shelter in exchange for sex. Taking advantage of a young person when they are at weakened state is simply despicable as far as I am concerned. I think the same thing about those that use religion or a cult to take advantage of these kids too.
My Own History With Gay Men
Just for the record. None of the following experiences left me scarred.
Whether you want to believe it or not I have never had a fantasy about having sex with another male. By far, most men and boys are strictly interested in women or girls.
On a few occasions, when I was a kid, older boys exposed themselves to me. I never thought of them as being gay but more like creeps.
Looking back, in grade school there was one boy who I later thought was gay. He was kind of like the teacher’s pet and ratted me out a few times to her. Other than this one kid I can’t recall any other kids being gay in grade school or high school. My guess is I probably couldn’t identify a gay kid because it wasn’t something I ever really thought about much. There were 2-3 high school teachers who were definitely gay. Word got around.
As a kid there wasn’t much talk about gay people. There certainly was a lot of chatter about girl’s bodies and the sexual possibilities. Anyone who got a hold of a bare naked picture of a woman was sure to find plenty of other guys who wanted to share it.
It wasn’t until I was about 14 that I became more aware of homosexuals. I lived at a boy’s school for 2 years and there were rumours of a few boys being involved with sexual acts together. Only once in that time did I actually witness briefly two boys engaging in sex when I accidentally walked in on two guys in the middle of a sex act.
I was kind of young looking for my age and up until my late teens I ran into situations infrequently that involved gay men. Once I was groped on a crowded bus. I was followed several times by pervs in slow moving cars while I was walking at night. I got propositioned a few times while hitchhiking but always managed to extricate myself from the situation. One truck driver had a hard time accepting no when I declined to go off the road and pick berries with him. I knew what a shallow grave is.
One day when I was about 17 I was sitting at the counter in an A & W in downtown Montreal. A couple of American sailors dressed in their whites were sitting next to me. They asked me where St. Joseph’s Oratory was located. The oratory was on my way home and they offered me a lift in the back seat of their Volkswagen. Call me dumb but I had no suspicions. When the car started moving the guy in the passenger seat reached over and grabbed my crotch. I screamed bloody murder and they let me out. It was a lesson learned.
A year or two later I was hitchhiking in Northern Ontario and got stuck in Thunder Bay with no place to stay. A Zellers store manager picked me up and learning that I had no place to crash for the night he told me I could stay at his place. He had a great record collection and let me pick out whatever I wanted to listen to. During the course of the evening he offered me a number of beers which I drank. I was little more savvy at this point in my life. I think his plan was to get me pissed. Eventually he told me that there was room for the two of us in his bed. I declined. He didn’t seem like a happy camper the next morning.
In my early twenties I worked in a number of restaurants in different places in Canada. One of them was a rooftop restaurant in Vancouver. I got used to working with a few gay waiters. One evening before the rush, I was hanging out at the service bar in the lounge area and an older gay waiter got me into a conversation about homosexuality. It wasn’t something I was that curious about. I made it quite clear to him that I was straight. He then asked me how I would know about gay sex if I hadn’t tried it. I told him I had never eaten shit before but  knew that it didn’t taste good. It might have not been the nicest response but I thought it to be fair because he was starting to try and play mind games with me.
In my late twenties I was in a few gay bars late at night. I was single and chasing women and sometimes they wanted to keep on dancing and we’d end up at a gay club. The music was usually pretty high octane and I was probably a little on the drunk side. I never felt threatened or a target. On the other hand I never would have been in one of those places by myself.
My ex-wife worked with a gay guy. He was about a 10-15 years younger than his partner and could be very funny at times. At Christmas office parties they would dance with one another including slow waltzes. Nobody seemed to mind and that was over 20 years ago.
Over the years I have been to a number of parties where there were one or two gay people. As with everyone else some were nice enough to talk to while others could be a bit of a pain. For most of my life I haven’t had that much contact with gay folks. There never was any intrigue for me as far as their lifestyles go.
When I was in my 50s and once again solo I did a lot of internet dating. Every now and then I would read a profile of some gal who was interested in me and it would include something like her best friend(s) were gay and if that was a problem they weren’t about to give up their friends. I always took a pass but wondered how they would respond if I said my best friend and I like to go see strippers a couple of times a week.
As an adult I have never been inclined to be part of group, large or small. I’m kind of a one man, one woman type of person. It isn’t that I am anti-social. I am far from that. (I’ve been a salesman for most of my life.) Nowadays I hardly ever run into a gay person other than at a Starbuck’s. The whole deal about the gay lifestyle is usually pretty remote from mine.
To each their own as they say. Gays are just like the rest of us in that some are more pleasant to be around than others. Just because I don’t hang around with a group type doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that they should not have the same rights as others.


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