Sunday, May 31, 2009
I'm about as gay as I am left-handed. Which is to say that I can write with my left hand if I make myself do it. It isn't pretty and it never feels right.
I was thinking up this whole analogy about how left-handed folks were once shamed and chided into behaving in a right-handed way and how that was similar to the way that gay folks are often shamed and chided into behaving straight. If you believe that sexual orientation is as biologically ingrained as handed-ness then it shouldn't be too hard to understand.
In my research, I found one person who said basically what I was thinking but from the gay/left-handed perspective. Go there to find my basic conclusion, but from an insider. I'm not suggesting that left-handed people are gay or vice versa. If you believe that gayness is genetically programmed ("Oh, my girl takes after her aunt Susie") then it makes sense. Though they were once expected to change their ways, being a left-handed is now more-or-less considered natural and not sinister, pun intended.
Some have argued that being gay requires a behavior, that men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to other women don't need to act on those impulses. The sin of gayness, as described above, is a sin of acting the way that one's heart tells them to do rather than squelching those feelings. It makes sense to me that teachers and parents tried to purge the left-handedness out of children. Would it have to do with making kids more "normal?"
This is to me what the whole mess is about: encouraging normalness. As a strange person, I have to take offense. Don't get me started on "tradition."
I imagine that being a leftie and learning to write with one's right hand would be similar to being gay and marry a person of the "appropriate" gender. This appears to be, after all, what opponents of gay marriage would encourage. However, marrying the wrong person would seem to be much more horrific to me.
Why is it said that the existence of same-sex marrieds threatens the existence of marriage as an institution? It seems irrational to me. Put in this same point of view, it seems as if folks were complaining that left-handed kids threaten to infect a whole school with the Southpaw flu.
I once tried signing my name with my left hand. I'm still all right.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This I Believe was a radio program conceived by Edward R. Murrow in which prominent people and normal folks could share 600 words about their system of thought. It was launched in 1949. Decades later, the show was relaunched as a series on National Public Radio. In the time since then many of the articles have been collected in a series of books, also called This I Believe.
In the 1952 edition of This I Believe Jackie Robinson, the famous first African-American baseball player wrote a passage that puts me in mind of the current events of today:
... I can tell [my children] too, that they will never face some of these prejudices because other people have gone before them. And to myself I can say that, because progress is unalterable, many of today's dogmas will have vanished by the time they grow into adults. I can say to my children: There is a chance for you. No guarantee, but a chance. And this chance has come to be, because there is nothing static with free people. There is no middle ages logic so strong that it can stop the human tide from flowing forward. I do not believe that every person, in every walk of life, can succeed in spite of any handicap. That would be perfection. But I do believe - and with every fiber in me - that what I was able to attain came to be because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past to discover the truth of today; and perhaps find the truth of tomorrow.
I believe in the human race.
I believe in the warm heart.
I believe in man's integrity.
I believe in the goodness of a free society.