Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hello World: Gay Pride Versus The Closet


Here, we are in the year 2013, in modern-day America.Over 32 years after Neil Armstrong took that small step for a man which might still be the largest step humanity has ever taken. Over 233 years since the forefathers declared this magnificent land an independent nation. Yet we still have a problem figuring out how gay people should be treated in the military. Many homosexuals still believe they are forced to hide their true nature for fear of ridicule, of losing their job or of being treated unfairly. Perhaps it’s time we took another giant step in the history of mankind. Perhaps it’s time we put the issue of gay rights to rest, once and for all.

What is all the fuss about, anyway? How a person chooses to live? Where do we as a nation draw the line over what we regulate in private people’s lives? How is it one person can find something offensive, or a small group of people, and they get to decide what everyone else can or cannot do? I, for one, loathe liver and onions. I know many who feel the same way. Perhaps we should start a coalition to ban the sale of beef liver. The stuff stinks. I mean, it smells really bad and I don’t like it so, though it might be good for someone else and though it doesn’t hurt me, it needs to be stopped.

Yes, yes, yes. I’ll go on talk shows and talk about how bad it is for the cows. I’ll work to have beef liver removed from restaurants and supermarkets. Some will complain. Probably a lot of middle-aged and elderly people, I doubt many youngsters will complain (though the pro liver and onions society will find a token youth to claim they like liver and onions, but I’m sure I can find enough liver hating youngsters to berate the nerd and make his life miserable so he has to hide his disgusting yearnings). Yes indeed, I can see it now. In the end, I won’t be able to eliminate the disgusting, stomach turning entree, but I can harass enough people and cause enough fuss to make people hide when they indulge in the mud colored beef product. We’ll end up settling on the matter, probably through an arbitrator. They can eat their grubby looking, foul-smelling dish in secret but not in public so I don’t have to smell it or think that it even exists.

Sounds quite silly doesn’t it? How did we get here? Why is America still treating the issue of gay rights like it’s the red-headed step child of culture? How, in this day and age, an era more diverse than ever before, is bias and bigotry still so alive and well when it comes to the gay community? If we go back about a hundred years and trace the history of gay rights and the gay movement to find equality, perhaps we will find some answers so that we can figure this problem out once and for all, for the culture of gays forming “societies” so they could relax, away from public ridicule and scorn, really first came about on a wide scale in the early 20th century.

“By 1915, one participant in this new gay world was referring to it as “a community distinctly organized.” For the most part hidden from view because of social hostility, an urban gay subculture had come into existence by the 1920s and 1930s.”

It stayed like that for awhile, communities forming, until shortly after World War II when many homosexuals tired of hiding and began to publicly come out of the closet. Many gays remained in their home towns rather than moving to find these sub cultures, deciding to start one of their own whether their friends and family lived nearby or not. Across the nation in the 1940’s, many cities saw the first gay bars pop up. Of course, there were ramifications, bigots, threats, violence, many gays were ostracized, Known homosexuals began getting fired from government jobs by the mid ‘50’s. Eisenhower, the President, had to issue an executive order to stop homosexuals from being fired from government jobs, though the bigotry continued, and many were forced to hide their true identities. While it might be “illegal” to fire them, the FBI began running surveillance on known homosexuals.’

By the 1960’s, as with the rest of society, many oppressed people began to fight back, and in 1969 in Greenwich Village, what became known as the Stonewall Riot became a rallying cry for many homosexuals, as narrow-minded police were harassing a number of known gay bars. Here is an account from the New York Times.

“HUNDREDS OF YOUNG MEN WENT ON A RAMPAGE IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, shortly after 3 A.M. yesterday after a force of plain-clothes men raided a bar that the police said was well-known for its homo-sexual clientele.Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured.”

It was a travesty and many homosexuals were tired of being pushed around. They decided to unite in many cases and fight for the rights America owed them. By 1973, over 70 gay and lesbian organizations existed in the United States, organizing to fight for common rights they deserved but were not afforded, today these unions number by the thousands..

Since that time in the early ‘70’s, all states have decriminalized homosexual behavior, and Federal agency and local police harassment has been largely held in check. But here we sit wrestling with the question of gay rights still, 100 years removed from the turn of the twentieth century, many homosexuals forced to stay in the closet, to hide their identity to avoid public ridicule and humiliation, rejection from family and friends. They can still lose their jobs for silly reasons, reasons a heterosexual would not be dismissed for. They still get bashed, beaten up and tormented in many instances.

Most don’t want to stay in the closet, they just don’t know how to come out, and the longer they hide their true nature, the harder it is to come out. Even family members turn on homosexuals. Oh, most family members just put up with it, like they have a diseased or deranged child, but they don’t truly want to believe it or accept it. I can only imagine the despair homosexuals must feel when revealing themselves to their parents. Like they’ve let their family down for simply being who they are or for falling in love. It’s appalling.

As President Grover Cleveland once famously said: “There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honor, beneath which are shielded and defended a people’s safety and greatness.”

We must maintain our greatness and truthfully accept and respect everyone equally. A country founded on “Freedom and justice for all” nearly 250 years ago must finally grow up, face itself, and aspire to the greatness the forefathers once intended for us. Gay. Gray. Black. Green. White. It doesn’t matter.

We’re all people.

And we all should be treated that way. The thing is, as advanced as humanity is, as free and democratic and evolved as America has become, we shouldn’t be having arguments over or still be trying to figure out how to treat gay rights. Because whether a person is a gay man or a lesbian or whatever, they’re a human being, and they, like anyone else, should simply be afforded human rights.

It’s high time we put bias and bigotry in the closet, and allowed every one to simply be who they are, allow them to live as they choose, so long as they do not hurt, harm or violate another human being’s rights.

That, is the real American Way, so that is the way that we as Americans need to act. Otherwise, this isn’t the land of the free and the home of the brave, it’s the land of what’s acceptable to some, and the home that persecutes the brave for standing up for the rights they so naturally deserve, and somehow, I don’t think that’s what the forefathers had in mind when they declared freedom for all of us and later framed the Constitution to protect those freedoms.

Personally, I want to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and in that America, nobody should be forced to live in a closet. It’s just, so… Un-American!

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