By: Dani Langevin – February, 2014
The gay community is just as diverse and varied as our heterosexual counter community. I would also venture to say that we are probably a bit more unique and colorful. I am painfully aware that those who are not part of the gay community have never had a ‘close encounter’ with a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered person, or maybe they have a bitter taste in their mouths and don’t like it. However, it still amazes me to what anti-gay heterosexuals will compare us to. A woman named Melissa commented on my January column saying, “It is still shocking to me to see the level of ignorance in our society.” Quite frankly, it doesn’t shock me. People are ignorant because they choose to be. Even highly educated people keep themselves in a tightly wound community, never to venture out and see what is on the outside of their bubble. This is selective ignorance.
One of the most astounding things about being with a person when they first discover that I’m gay is the sheer stupidity of their comments when they are trying to be supportive and accepting. I’ve gotten, “I’m cool with that.” OH! Thank God. I was so afraid of you not being cool with that. What a relief. By the way, I’m cool with you being straight, too. Then there’s the people who try to tell you that a really good friend of theirs is gay or someone they work with or worked with is gay, “Maybe you know him. His name is Tom. He lives in Hoboken.” Yes, Tom from Hoboken. We go way back. Apparently every single gay person in the world knows every person who is gay in the world. I particularly like it when they try to set you up with the only other gay person they know thinking that just because two people are gay they’ll automatically be attracted to each other. Classic.
Those are not shocking examples of ignorance; they’re simply head shaking humorous ones. The shocking part, as previously mentioned, is what we are compared to and accused of. Ralph Zappala compared being homosexual to alcoholics and pedophiles. Heterosexuality is not a disease that can be managed or a violent, mental illness that causes adults to prey on the innocent. To place emotionally healthy homosexuals in the same categories as a disease and mental illness is beyond ignorance. It’s sheer stupidity.
Jackson also commented on my column last month. He wrote, “Maybe you outta (Jackson’s word not mine) talk to the gay community and tell them to tone it down.” He mentions gay pride parades and gay bars and the level of sexuality displayed at these venues. I’m wondering what Jackson knows about these places and what he’s not telling his friends and family. Seriously, calling the gay community out on how a small number of them act in a parade or in a bar is like saying Americans are loud, obnoxious, gaudy show boaters after watching a Macy’s parade or saying that all single heterosexuals are over sexed perverts because of how they act in a straight bar every weekend. Come on Jackson. He (She? Can’t tell) also said that, “Heterosexuals don’t go around announcing what they are all the time.” Really? Have you been to a wedding? Why do straight women have to be given doorknob-sized diamonds as an engagement ring? They want to announce, “HEY! I’M STRAIGHT AND GETTING MARRIED.” Heterosexuals have pictures of their spouses and/or children at their places of work. They put silly little stick figure stickers of their family on the back of their mini-van and if driving a mini-van doesn’t announce with a bullhorn that there are heterosexuals inside, I don’t know what does.
I have no problem with heterosexuals. My parents were two of the best I’ve ever known. Even if I did have a problem with heterosexuality I wouldn’t compare them to a disease, mental or physical, I wouldn’t tell them to shut up about their lifestyle and stop shoving it in my face and I wouldn’t reduce them to their reproductive sexual acts. And if you think this is what this column did, then you missed the point.
It comes down to basic human decency. Like Melissa said, “We are all human beings. Focusing on one’s sexual orientation takes the focus from the things that are really important.”