We didn’t discuss homosexuality in my house growing up. In fact, the first time I even heard the term was because of Jodie Dallas, a gay character played by Billy Crystal on the TV show “Soap.” And although he seemed normal enough, he liked intercourse with men rather than women – and, well, that was kind of gross. So yeah, I understood why we didn’t talk about homosexuality in our house. Besides, there weren’t any gay people in our neighborhood.
When I joined the Air Force at 18, I had a fear of being in the shower with a gay man during basic training. After all, everyone knew that gay people couldn’t control themselves and had to have sex whenever other nude people of the same sex were present. Let’s just say I never dropped the soap. As it turned out, my fears were for naught – as I later learned that there were no gay people in the military.
Years later, I finally encountered a gay man. He was a friend, actually. A really nice guy. Good looking. Great dresser. And I had no idea he was gay. But one night, after we’d hit a few (straight) clubs, we were at his apartment drinking beer when he told me that he was extremely attracted to me and really wanted to have sex. He then began to cry because he knew that I was straight and that there was no way I was coming over to his side. And there wasn’t. In fact, I was so freaked out by the whole scene that I left his apartment and never talked to him again. And despite my ignorance for another person’s feelings, I learned something valuable that night – that gay people weren’t monsters.
And so things began to change for me after that experience, as acceptance started to replace fear.
Today, my wife and I joke that we have more gay friends than straight. Our daughters have classmates raised by gay couples. To us, gay people are no different than we are other than they fall in love with people of the same sex. They’re subject to the same fallibilities and emotions as every other human on the planet. Things like cancer and alcoholism, fear and love. Universals like these don’t discriminate because of sexual orientation.
Which brings me to a new campaign supporting the legalization of gay marriage, Let Love Reign.
Last year my friend Crystal Dempsey introduced me to Catalina Kulczar-Marin, a talented photographer gifted in capturing the emotion of her subjects that live just below the surface. It turned out that Catalina was fed up with the inequities of the law concerning gay marriage, and facilitated a photoshoot featuring gay couples in various forms of normal, loving interaction. She asked if I’d be willing to help create a campaign supporting the legalization of gay marriage. I immediately agreed. After many months, and the help of many people, today the campaign officially kicked off with the launch of LetLoveReign.org.
I don’t know if gay marriage will ever be legalized in America. But I do know from personal experience that enlightenment goes a long way in overcoming fear. I encourage you to visit LetLoveReign.org to learn more about the campaign, to take action for the legalization of gay marriage and for a better understanding of what it must be like to be completely in love with another person, but forbidden to marry them.
Love is love. It doesn’t discriminate.
8 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Sep 15, 2010
Good post. I was riffing over at Bill Green’s blog Make the Logo Bigger once that perhaps the reason it’s so hard for society to progress and accept women, Jews, Catholics, blacks (sorry that was a while ago), Muslims and gays (OK, we’re caught up with today) is that we really are a human organism with two impulses. Progressives want to push ahead, open up society, change the world, accept new people. Conservatives want to hold back, protect society, maintain tradition, uphold the old people. Both impulses are good — grow and protect, change and be stable, leap ahead and stay soundly behind. If society is one organization, the push and pull need to balance each other at the macro level. This is why we fight on cable news, because the two forces are both required and yet are diametrically opposed. So some don’t want gay marriage, others say what’s the big deal. I won’t bore you by ending with the declaration that I’m gay or not, because that misses the point. Society is missing the point because it has to fight with itself as it grows, until eventually we’ll all wake up, and as you suggest, will no longer care.
Sep 15, 2010
What you’re describing is the centerpiece of School of Athens. This kind of balance is a repeating theme in art, culture, government, social networks, and yes, as you point out, even our own souls. I respect the need for balance, but in this case it’s more than protection vs. growth. It’s logic vs. fear. When Catalina asked me to help create a campaign name and develop a logical argument around her images, I went right for the middle. It’s not left. It’s not right. It’s human to respect such a simple, and good thing. What’s malicious about this? Immoral? Love is love. It’s that simple.
At least that’s the way I’m spinning it.
Sep 21, 2010
Excellent post and enjoyed it immensely. Recently on Twitter I and a few dads have started a hashtag (#DadsView) to help support other dads, men who are working hard to be a moving force in the lives of children. The world these days does not shed a favoring light on fathers and we are determined to make a change for good. We blog as a network, http://theramsnetwork.ning.com/ and do whatever we can to support fathers. I am a father of 8 and right now I am fighting cancer and Im confined to the hospital. I refuse to give up and from this hospital bed I am doing what I can to help dads and children. We need help. I know you are busy and often bombarded with asking for help. All we ask is for a “shoutout” on Twitter and FB to #DadsView for any father who may need support.
Sep 21, 2010
Hi Shawn. Thanks. One thing I think is important to remember, that you clearly point out, is that we all have our battles to fight in life. The best we can do sometimes is just that – give our best. I’ll be sure to tweet that hashtag soon. Good luck with your battle, and endeavor.
Dave Van de Walle
Sep 26, 2011
Hey, this is a pretty cool thing you’re doing. Nice story – probably not too dissimilar to what most people who grew up in the 70s and 80s lived through. Maybe even 90s.
May 5, 2012
Gay marriage will be legalized in the US, just like slavery was abolished and women got the right to vote and we elected a truly African-American president. Social progress is an unstoppable force.
But yeah, just like a lot of people wish that black people and other “minorities” would “go home” (in spite of the fact that they ARE home) or “learn their place,” in spite of the fact that many men still believe that women cannot be as effective, smart and ale as men – and therefore don’t deserve the same consideration for top jobs or even salaries equal to their male peers, some people will never support gay marriage or think of gay people as their equals either. That’s the common denominator in every type of discrimination: the hater’s notion that he or she is “better” than the person or stereotype being discriminated against. “Better” as in different, first or all. As in dissimilar. Imagine the mentality of someone who can look at another human bein and be so distracted by the one thing that makes them different than the 500 other things that make them similar… And lives their entire life without ever moving past that.
But here’s the thing, Jim… We grew up in a time and in a society that stereotyped homosexuality, that actively encouraged us to at the very least ridicule it, if not outright be hostile to it. The token gay guy in a movie or tv show tended to be the over-the-top comic relief. The overbearing message of stranger-danger warnings also blurred the line between pedophiles and homosexuals. Alot of kids grew up thinking homosexuals were at best “sissy boys” and at worst, pedophiles. It isn’t as bad today. At least not across as much of the world as it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. I think we’re making progress. But yes, as long as we don’t legalize gay marriage, we don’t acknowledge it’s validity. And if it isn’t legal, it is illegal. The only way we change society’s perceptions and attitudes is by legalizing the thing we want to normalize.
Thanks for writing that.
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