We’re not literally all gay, of course, because if we were, there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that we’re all different. Or is it?
Homosexuality has gone from unspeakable crime, to merely unspeakable, to downright speakable. The more familiar we grow with it, the harder it is to see gays as monsters. This is causing much concern in some quarters.
Ironically, Aids*, which kills people, had a lot to do with turning gays into people, for those who hadn’t noticed before. Aids was ignored in the early days, except among the “Christian” Taleban, who hoped it would become God’s Final Solution for perverts. Instead, Aids showed gays to be people who die, like us. People who grieve, like us. People who care for those they love, like us, and who want to be with them in their final hours, so very much like us.
Aids turned out to be, indeed, God’s Final Solution, in that it made us recognize our common humanity and begin the long process of learning to live together in peace.
However, that was one bridge too far for some people. We had, in recent memory, accepted Jews, which worked out surprisingly well. Except for a decided improvement in the quality of sandwich meats, there was no discernible difference to society. So that was all right. Then came the concept of treating blacks as equals. We swallowed hard, and figured out other ways of keeping our distance, but at least we could talk the talk on that one.
Then things started to get messy. Women began claiming they belonged to the same species. That hits us right where we live, in our love lives and in our families. Even talking the talk proved to be too much, but human beings are very adaptable. We got around the problem by saying it had been dealt with years ago, and it wasn’t an issue any more. Surprisingly enough, in a world where rape is barely worth a mention in the back section of the paper, and where women are still considered partial people when it comes to pay, this worked.
The frozen limit, however, has now been reached. Homosexuals are saying they have rights, and not just a few small rights, but the same ones as everyone else. This can’t be allowed. Where will it all end, if the natural order of things is so completely ignored? People will start marrying dogs, and civilization will crumble.
The world is now divided into those who find that point of view laughable (of whom I’m obviously one), and those who cannot understand how anyone can be blind to the opening of the floodgates of evil. There is no one in the middle. You either see it, or you don’t, like the drawing which can be either a vase or two profiles, but which it is impossible to see as both at once.
Leaving for another screed the concept that gays are evil, the question is whether exclusion can work at all. The general idea is that exclusion will solve something. Things will be better with the undesirables removed. The idea behind excluding gays is that they are “unnatural,” with the subtext that the person making the judgment is, of course, “natural.” In other words, it’s an us versus them argument, in which “we” are better than “them,” who are excluded.
Let’s grant for the moment that excluding gays makes the remaining group better. It will soon become evident that it is not yet perfect. It could be even better. If the problem is “them” preventing “us” from achieving a smoothly functioning group, then we have to exclude the new troublemakers. Let’s say this new set are people who vote conservative, and obviously cause all the trouble in the world. There are some minor problems due to antiquated customs involving secret ballots, but with an improved Patriot Act, we manage to identify the blighters and get rid of them. The relief is immense. But it’s soon obvious that there is still room for improvement. Problematic relationships continue to crop up. The new troublemakers are those who are taller than average and have a snooty way of looking over the tops of our heads. They are cast into outer darkness. And so it goes until the group is homogeneous enough to exchange organs without tissue typing. Then the people wearing black socks start looking askance at the misfits wearing white socks.
I cannot think of one single historical example where exclusion of “troublemakers” did not follow that pattern. The undesirables might be anything: female, Jewish, black, Asian, witches, or people from outside a gated community. Usually sooner rather than later, the ingroup finds that some of its members are more equal than others. No group that I ever heard of managed to exclude enough people to feel satisfied.
Exclusion fails on a personal level as well as the social one. Whichever difference is grounds for exclusion, it must also be stamped out, or at least hidden, within ourselves. No human being is purely one thing or another. We all have many facets, and any one of them may turn out to be less than “cool.” Life under the hope that exclusion can solve any problems becomes a matter of constantly looking over one’s shoulder, waiting to be “found out” … and hoping that the Final Solution will lead at last to peace. Unfortunately, reapplication of a failed solution has never resulted in success.
The problem isn’t differences; it’s the way they’re handled. The problem isn’t living our way; it’s letting other people live their way.
Inclusive societies have their own problems. You have to put up with people with purple hair, or people holding hands, or whatever. For that, though, other people have to put up with you. You get to live your life without looking over your shoulder. Oddly enough, the peace that is imagined to lie on the other side of the Final Solution turns out to be right here, without the tedious necessity of doing all that housecleaning first.
So it may be worth remembering what the argument is really about, while controversies swirl around gay rights. Or anyone else’s rights, for that matter, right down to poor thirteen year-olds who are wards of the State. These things don’t merely affect gays, or any other subgroup of the month. They affect how we feel about each other and about ourselves. They affect the feel of our whole society and whether we choose to live in fear or in acceptance. It’s not somebody else’s problem when someone else’s rights are denied. It’s yours and mine. We must either all be accepted, or nobody will be.
[*I’m going with the British convention for common acronyms. I’m tired of all those capital letters screaming at me.]
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