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Not Special, Just Equal

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This morning a comment was directed towards me at HuffPo on yesterday's article about the NY gay marriage failing, New York State Senate Votes Down Gay Marriage.  I had left a number of comments on the article; commenting on others' comments, agreeing wholeheartedly with some and arguing the finer points of marriage with others (few know its actual history...that's a forthcoming blog post).

A comment, by user mg moore, in particular, bothered me.

Originally he had said:

Maybe now NY can get on to something useful.

I, and others, disagreed with this sentiment.  I stated:

Such as? I think this is a pretty important issue - as do most people.

mg moore disagreed, naturally, that the issue was important at all.  Apparently human rights are of no concern to him, and living in a hypocritical country - promising equality for all but denying rights to some - fails to stir him.  He responded with the comment that irked me enough to bring this debate to my blog:

If most people thought it was important it would have been reflected in the voting of the legislators. The outcome reflected the relevance. Gays should quit pretending they are as special as Faberge' eggs and simply stop whining. Their lifestyle choices put them outside the mainstream. Deal with the consequences.

I don't understand people that think this way.  I am trying to, but it's hard.  Can anyone help me out?  Is there anyone that agrees with this man's assertion that can offer me some insight into your mindset?  I won't judge you or condemn you; I am genuinely seeking answers here.

Part of my responses to mg moore were as follows  (I left two):

1) Gay people don't they think are "special" - that is the entire point of this whole thing! They wanted to be treated exactly the same as everyone - equality is the issue here, not "special". If you don't see that, you are missing the entire point of all of this, as are the people that voted down this legislation.

This whole idea that gay people are asking for some kind of "special treatment" when all they are asking for is "equal rights" infuriates me.  How is it "special treatment" to, simply, be afforded the same rights and benefits as the rest of society?  How is it "special treatment" to ask that Americans stay true to what this country stands for - freedom and equality for ALL?

Homosexuals are people - they are no different than you or I, except that they prefer the same sex as opposed to the opposite sex.  Homosexuality is natural - it exists in nature - and normal.  Fear and ignorance keep people from treating our gay brethren with respect and amity; fear of the unknown and ignorance of the truth that gay people are no different than straight people.  And they deserve the same rights.

Indeed, there is no good or logical argument for denying them these rights - all fall flat and resort back to simple bigotry, ignorance, and condemnation; usually based on religious morals and ideals.  Where in your Bible does God or Jesus preach to treat others as inferior?

2) And if you honestly and truly believe that gay people choose to live a life of condemnation and ridicule, then you are far too ignorant for my impassioned plea to reach your ears.  I am sure you are a very intelligent person, but on this issue itself you remain ignorant; I can assure you - it is not a choice.

If it were, then choose to be gay for a day and have sex with someone of the same sex - just do it, it's just a choice.

I'm sure you find the idea repulsive and ridiculous - just as someone who is gay generally finds the idea of being with someone of the opposite sex! It doesn't appeal to them because that just isn't who they are or how they are made! It is NOT a choice!

Ah, the age-old "choice" debate.  This one never gets old.  I fail to see how being gay is a choice; why would anyone in their right mind choose a life in which they will be judged, condemned, and ridiculed?  Who would prefer a life that very well - and often does - ostracize them from family, community, and the religion they were raised with?  How could they, willingly, accept a lifestyle that takes away their rights, and would not allow them to see their mate of decades as they lay dying in the hospital or make any decisions about their care?  Trust me when I say to you that no one would choose this.

People are born gay.  It's that simple.  I know gay people and I know people that have been gay since childhood (when I also knew them).  As the realization came to them, they - like so many others - fought a great and virulent internal battle.  They tried to be straight.  They chose to be straight.  Some married and had children.  But in the end, the "choice" to live a false life could no longer be upheld; eventually they had to be true to themselves.

Understand this - that is the only choice in it - the choice to be who they were born to be.  Every gay person I know suffered through the I-can't-be-gay battle during puberty.  Some embraced it, many others denied it and tried to be someone and something else.

It is our society that teaches them to hate what they are, to question it and fear it.  Some, as you know, commit suicide.  Why?  Because it isn't a choice, and if it was - many of them - at least in the beginning, would choose not to be gay.

Why?  Because society condemns them for being so, and they know they have a hard life and treacherous path before them.  They may lose family, friends, jobs, community, and their religion.

And, yet, you think they choose this?  You think they flaunt all conventions and decide to just "have lots of gay sex" and, therefore, have no right to demand equal rights?  People like mg moore do think this way, and that is a sad state of affairs.

What bothers me, too, is that in all the hubbub and din, all the people decrying "gay sex" as deviant and gay people as aberrant for engaging in - just for larks, of course - is the idea of Love.  Being gay isn't just about - isn't really at all about - who you have sex with or want to have sex with.  It's about who you can and will Love.  Yes, homosexuals are sexually attracted to the same sex.  But do not forget, that attraction - just like with straight people - can and does lead to more than just meaningless sex.  It becomes relationships, it becomes lasting partnerships, and long-term affairs.  It becomes Love.

And that is what this battle is really about.  No one can choose who they fall in love with - not straight people, gay persons, bi individuals, or anything in between.  And, therefore, it is not a choice for the lesbian who falls in love with the woman who becomes her partner of 20 years or the gay man who falls head over heels for the person he knows is his soulmate, no more than it is a choice for the woman who marries her high school sweetheart or the man who rekindles a romance with the woman he never got over from college.  We don't choose who we love...love has it's own agenda.

The most beautiful thing about this is that Love always wins.  It will prevail; it always does.  And gay people will win their rights.  I guarantee it.

In the meantime, to all the naysayers, I say think long and hard about the reasons you are against homosexuals or gay rights/marriage.  Remember what this country stands for, and take some time to re-read the teachings of the man you base your religion on.  You have a "choice", now - and the choice is to choose acceptance, understanding, and compassion over denial, ignorance, and hatred.  You like to ask, "What would Jesus do?" and so I posit that to you now - what, indeed?

The Rule of Three and More

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Though there are a number of things I wanted to discuss today, I would be certainly remiss if I did not share my thoughts on the spate of shocking and untimely deaths that have rocked not only the entertainment industry, but the entire world.

Without fail, bad things tend to happen in threes.  Whether you are superstitious or not, it is hard to deny a hard and fast rule that proves itself over and over again.  This rule applies especially, it seems, to death and even more specifically to death in the world of celebrity and known public figures.  It would seem that yet again the "Rule of Three" has come into play as in the last week, we have experienced the deaths of three cultural icons and stars:  Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and perhaps most shockingly, Michael Jackson.

Ed McMahon, beloved sidekick of Johnny Carson and the face of Publisher's Clearinghouse, went quietly after suffering through a number of health problems - including bone caner - at the age of 86 in a Los Angeles hospital.  Though he was an icon and his death a sad one, it is not a terrible shock nor does it come with the "too soon" laments of the other stars to have lose their lives recently.  Ed lived a long and fulfilled life and was on this Earth for eighty-six years.  He will be greatly missed and absolutely mourned, but none of us were surprised to heave learned of his passing.

Then, yesterday morning, Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with anal cancer.  Then, appallingly, a few hours later we learned that Michael Jackson had died.  While Farrah's untimely death was tragic - 62 is too young to lose your life to a wasting illness - we were, sadly, expecting it.  The true shocker was Michael Jackson's sudden death at the age of 50.  He was an enormous cultural icon, despite all his quirks and possible downfalls, no one can deny that he changed the face of music, broke down barriers, and was the true "King of Pop" the world over.

Farrah Fawcett had been fighting her cancer since 2006.  At the time, she enlisted the help of her former longtime companion and lover, Ryan O'Neal.  Initially, chemo and surgery had removed the cancer, but in May of 2007 a malignant polyp was found in the originally affected area.  She fought hard and courageously and even filmed some of her struggles – no scripts, bare reality – for a television documentary for others suffering through the same fate (she even shaved off of her signature mane of blonde hair on camera before the chemo could cause it to fall out).  She believed she could beat the cancer, saying, "I do not want to die from this disease."

She and Ryan rekindled their love affair and he was quoted as being amazed with her strength and resilience and told reporters once, "She is so strong and amazing.  I love her.  I'm in love with her all over again."  They had previously been together since 1982 (had a son together in 1985) but had never married.  Though they were always "on and off", they always seemed to get back together.  In June he asked her to marry him and she said 'yes'; they planned to be wed as soon as she was strong enough…yet it never happened.  He was quoted around that time in People magazine as saying, "It's a love story.  I just don't know how to play this one.  I won't know this world without her.  Cancer is an insidious enemy."  I feel genuine sadness for this man - a cancer survivor himself - who is mourning the death of the woman who was the love of his life.  A comprehensive and touching commentary on the legacy left by Farrah Fawcett and the final battle she ultimately lost can be read over on ABC News"Farrah Fawcett's Journey:   Golden Girl's Iconic Career" .

Michael Jackson is truly, a shocker.  The world appears to be in mourning right now; it is dominating the news as fans pay tribute, camp out at his star in Hollywood, and call in to radio stations (which are spinning his hits non-stop).  Though he was only 50 years-old, it has been noted that he has been ill in the last few years.  The much-publicized 1993 court case where he was accused of child molestation financially (and somewhat professionally) ruined him; it was also when his health began to decline, friends and family say.  I cannot ever say if I fully believed he did it or not; I suppose no one will ever really know except him and the boy, Jordan Chandler, (or boys) he supposedly molested.  He seemed, in interviews, a child himself – sort of sad and lonely, broken, and wanting to live out the childhood that had been denied him as a child by his abusive father.

Regardless, none can deny that he gave unflinchingly to many charitable organizations for children and helped millions of children around the world either directly or indirectly.  The news media has stated that his death is from cardiac arrest; that he was found – unconscious – at his rental home in Los Angeles and rushed to the hospital.  Whether there are mitigating factors will remain in question until the toxicology reports come back, of course.  Despite his troubled personal life, one cannot deny that Michael Jackson was the true "King of Pop"; a cutural icon who was known the world over, broke barriers, influenced countless of present-day celebrities, and contributed immensely to changing the face of music with his considerable talent and artistic genius.  I ask that you take a moment to read this beautiful and poignant tribute to this engimatic man by his close friend - and a personal favorite person of mine - Deepak Chopra over at Huffington Post "A Tribute to My Friend, Michael Jackson" .

Deviating from the "three" rule (or adding to it if you discount McMahon as simply coming, gently and non-controversially, to the end of his time here on Earth), is actor David Carradine.  David Carradine died the same week as my grandfather earlier this month.  His death was first believed to be a suicide but I called it right when telling my family the news:  he perished due to auto-erotic asphyxiation; accidental death labeled as "autoerotic fatality".  He might have been 72, but apparently he still enjoyed an active sexual life; at least solitarily.

He was found hanging in a closet in the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel Bangkok, Thailand where he was to soon begin filming a new movie; the most telling evidence of his accidental self-demise was a shoelace around his neck and, going down, that bound his penis.  Such circumstances seemed to ruled out suicide or homicide, the coroners agreed, however, his lawyer – Mark Geragos – believes that he could have been murdered (he actually said this on Larry King Live) by a secret sect of kung fu assassins.  Absorb that one for a moment.  Geragos claimed that it was recently revealed that Carradine was attempting to blow the lid on some underworld martial-arts groups.  Two of his five previous ex-wives, though, stated Carradine was into self-bondage and "deviant sex acts" that could be "potentially lethal".  Feel free to draw your own conclusions.  A fitting tribute - one of the few not focusing on his bizarre death but rather his provocative life - was written by David Edelstein in his The Projectionist piece over on the New York Movies website: "David Carradine:  Ode to an Existential Hero".

Death seems to be our constant companion these days, as we also can not forget the less-mentioned and often unknown Iranians who have perished at the hands of a murderous, fascist regime.  This was brought to our attention with the gruesome and unnecessary murder of young, beautiful Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot - in the heart - for peacefully protesting the ills of a corrupt government in Tehran.  That poor Neda had to die so violently and publicly was necessary, it seems, to bring the plight of our Iranian brethren to light and force it into directly into our faces.  We must pray for them as they fight for the basic freedoms that we take for granted every single day.  Neda is only one of many who have - and will - face brutal death as they cry out for their basic human rights.  A deeper look into Neda's tragic death and cut-short life is on guardian.co.uk"How Neda Soltani became the face of Iran's struggle".

Whether we are fans of any of the above, whether we care about their lives or are interested in their deaths, and regardless of whether or not we believe they made a impact on society - and our world - we must not fail to honor and remember them; for as it is said, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls...it tolls for thee."