Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Voice Of Our Youth

This past Tuesday, an ABC News report highlighted the testy exchange between Senator John McCain and William Sleaster, a Concord, New Hampshire high school student. The sixteen year old Sleaster, much to everyone's surprise, brought McCain to task over his steadfast belief in the "sanctity of marriage."

From one side of his mouth, McCain claimed that "discrimination in any form is unacceptable." Yet, in his reply to Sleaster over whether he supported civil unions or gay marriage, he stated, "I do not. I think that they impinge on the status and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman."

"So you believe in taking away someone's rights because you believe it's wrong?"

"I wouldn't put that interpretation on my position, but I do understand yours," McCain said.

This whole confrontation, as most anyone already knows, drew heated response from both sides of the ongoing struggle for equality. The greater majority of Americans, based on the comments I've been reading, seem to favor the stand young Sleaster took against the Senator. Others, who by no small coincidence embrace the conservative right, believe his "disrespectful" line of query stemmed from over-exposure to the "pro-homosexual agenda" supplied by the mass media. Casting aside that laughably immature presumption, I am at a sheer loss to see what is so disrespectful in questioning the beliefs and issues of a man running for President. We all, as living people, possess the right to inquire and the fact that such valid points of discussion were raised by a high schooler is totally irrelevant. As an American citizen who happens to represent the next generation of voters, Mr. Sleaster is no less deserving of an opinion than anyone else.

What I take specific issue with are those who, for entirely bogus reasons, vehemently disagree with that assessment. These are individuals who endorse the preposterous notion that granting equal rights to all somehow promotes anarchy, and that it is the "Utopian Socialist Hippies" like me who are corrupting this country and molding it into one big Do-What-You-Want Woodstock. This insane commentary actually comprised the opinion of somebody who posted his own take on this story when it initially unfolded. He went on to say that "homosexuality, like prostitution, drug abuse, murder, rape and various other social cancers has and always will be with us." That biased mindset there, my friends, specifically demonstrates why this nation is so embarrassingly behind in direct relation to civil rights. If a sixteen year old high school student can see this, why can't McCain or any other double-speaking politician? Discrimination is discrimination. There really is no two ways about it. William Sleaster called McCain out on that truth and, for that sole reason, he should be commended.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Confronting The Core Of Human Stupidity

Throughout my life, I have always endeavored to look past the shortcomings in others and appreciate them for the well-meaning individuals they generally strive to be. People, for the most part, are good. Time and again, however, I find myself encountering those few whose age does not necessarily reflect their level of maturity. Many of them hold office in high levels of authority. But, more often than not, they are plain and simple average joes like you and me.

Opinions, as anybody will agree, are as diverse as all the innumerable souls that comprise modern society. Sadly, what I've been reading these last several days, in wake of the positive strides towards equal marriage, has left me wondering just how many sane men and women are actually voicing those beliefs.

"Allowing gays to marry is like calling adoption child birth."

"Why not legalize marriage between siblings, family pets and their owners, while you're at it?"

Sibling marriage. Wow. Are there really that many homophobes who harbor the desire to marry their dog or a family member? Considering the sheer number of times I've seen this sentiment voiced by heterosexual men throughout varying media outlets, there remains precious little to make me or anybody else assume otherwise. It is pathetically embarrassing statements like these that stem from the mouths of people old enough to know far better that are inadvertently aiding the gay community in their fight for equality. The collective gutter-trash mentality that provokes such laughable worldviews so commonly shared by bigots is what also leads the greater majority of them to unfairly equate homosexuality with the vile act of incest and child molestation. Gay men and women, as a direct result of this hideous belief pattern, are automatically viewed as subhuman, sexually promiscuous perverts. These zealots maintain such outdated judgment despite the fact that many current same-sex couples have shared a life of committed love spanning three or more decades. How then, one might ask, can such obvious devotion so easily be dismissed as unworthy or less deserving of equal protection under law? In all honesty, outside of the tired biblical misinterpretations and unfounded fear that has so needlessly and foolishly brainwashed vast scores of generations, there is no valid rhyme or reason. Those who cast stones would rather cling to the unsubstantiated falsehoods of myth instead of adhering to the indisputable evidence of their own eyes. It is that sad fact, alone, that specifically illustrates why their asinine claptrap should never be accepted with anything more than a grain of salt.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Preacher Who Knew Too Little

New Jersey Pastor Salvatore Roggio, representing the Cumberland County Community Church, has sparked a major controversy this week by posting a sign outside his sanctuary that reads "Help for the Homosexual." He apparently intends to conduct official sermons on this topic. The Pastor, whose 29 year old daughter recently professed that she is a lesbian, has publicly voiced that he does not believe people are born gay and can "become straight" through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Um, okay....

This, as any rational man or woman will attest, is plain and simply not possible. Human sexuality, in as much the same vein as attraction, is what it is. A gay person can no more turn straight than a straight person can turn gay. For this man, or anybody else for that matter, to maintain that I deliberately chose to embrace a desire for other men is utterly outrageous. Have you ever noticed the few who cling to this hilarity never once mention how they, themselves, applied such a foolhardy belief to their own lives? If homosexuality really is the bonafide choice these people claim it is, why haven't they ever addressed it with their significant others? On second thought, allow me to rephrase that. For any straight readers out there, I hereby issue this formal challenge. Try rolling over in bed tomorrow morning and telling your wife or your girlfriend that you feel like dating other men, and then confess to the world how simple that "choice" actually was. Chances are, if the attraction isn't already there, an equal gender switch is not going to happen.

It genuinely amazes me how select individuals, such as Pastor Roggio, seem so lost on this matter. Why would God want me to alter who he created me to be? God is perfectly fine with who I am. He knows me far better than anybody on this entire planet, thank you very much. Choice played no role in my sexual awakening and it isn't for anyone else to decide who I should or shouldn't be attracted to. I came out to my parents because I was tired of hiding who I was. I also did not savor the notion of lying to myself while marrying some woman simply because it was what society dictated. Pastor Roggio, unlike many in the gay community, grew to adulthood in a world that accepted who he was without judgment or reprisal. It is therefore easy to understand why he could not possibly fathom the inner torment that I and others like me were forced to endure throughout our respective adolescence. What he deems as proper or improper, in direct regard to my life as a homosexual male, is ultimately irrelevant. Common sense is what it all boils down to. If he possessed a single minute ounce of it, he would realize just how totally pathetic his current actions within the body of his church really are.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fixing What Is Broken...

I am often driven to wonder what motivates us, as a collective people, to be so completely cruel to each other. Varying news media outlets have managed to cast an ever-brilliant beam upon a truth many of us wish was not so evident; indifference, in all its many manifestations, has not diminished. It is still very much alive and kicking.

My first and most obvious question is, why? Why does a total stranger's skin color or sexual orientation still push people to maim and murder? More to the point, why do those committing these heinous crimes dare to presume they are enacting God's will?

We all conceal our own theories regarding bigotry and where it may stem. But, make no mistake. Hatred, contrary to what some might contend, is not something any child is simply born with. The vile prejudice that fueled the dragging death of James Byrd, a black man living in Jasper, Texas, and the vicious beating of gay college student, Matthew Shepherd represents a detestable mindset that has been deliberately passed down from generation to generation, year upon endless year. A greater portion of our society preaches hate and encourages division, while at the same time condemning me and the man I love for "corrupting" its children.

Does that not reek of the utmost hypocrisy?

This sad reflection obviously doesn't speak for every child. If it did, I think we'd all be in serious trouble! But, the fact we still have folks like Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, and "Ex-Gay" conversion groups telling our youth that homosexuality is a curable disease speaks for itself. No single individual can ever convince me that I, a gay man in a loving relationship, represent all that is negative when my accusers are exposing their own kids to so much narrow hate and petty bias. There are enough rational free thinkers out there to counter this brand of ignorance. But, until we can actively educate more people and open their eyes to the absurd level of social injustice they so blindly tolerate, true equality will never be attainable.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Marriage Protectors Strike Again!

I came out to my parents upon celebrating my twenty-first birthday. That was fifteen years ago, at a time when the idea of "equal marriage" was nowhere near the exaggerated firestorm of moral threat the religious right has so ignorantly labelled it. It was through my own mother that I chanced upon meeting my spouse, at an insurance firm that has long since relocated to New York City. Back then, certain individuals within my immediate circle were quick to write off my love for this man as a passing phase. "It won't last," some would warn, while others would toss around the false assumption that I would somehow contract the AIDS virus and die simply because I was gay. Funny thing, irony. All those who ever doomed my relationship to failure have all seen their own marriages succumb to the bitterness of divorce.

It is unfortunate people such as this who continue to thwart today's equal marriage movement. Going by their narrowed logic, marriage is now far less about love than it is about procreation. Wow! Somebody seriously needs to alert my brother to that statistic. He has been married to my sister-in-law for the last twenty-six years and they have never once had a single child between them. I suppose that means they, along with all the countless thousands of childless heterosexual couples living worldwide, ultimately have no business wearing wedding bands.

Am I the only one who finds this the least bit pathetic?

"Lock your doors! Bolt your windows! The gays are coming! Marriage is under attack!"

Uh, yeah, sure.

Friends, I can't help but laugh each and every time these armchair pundits ascend their soapboxes to preach this asinine propaganda. Paranoia seems to rule out common sense more often than not with these people. Infidelity, alcohol and spousal abuse all contribute to ninety percent of this country's current heterosexual divorce rate. But, once word spreads that somebody like me wants to legally marry the wonderful man he's built a fifteen year relationship with.....THAT, magically, is considered the sole legitimate threat to society's so-called "sanctity" of marriage. Pardon me while I double over in a puddle of my own tears and laugh. I, as a gay man, have absolutely no bearing on anybody else's life or how they decide to manage it. Nothing I or my spouse do as a couple should ever adversely affect the marriage of two total strangers. The success of any marriage is based upon what the two partners involved are willing to put into it. Those individuals who deliberately choose to disagree with that fact and base their strengths around my definition of happiness should more seriously pursue professional counseling.

Consider, if you will, the similarities between what's going on today as opposed to the battle that unfolded years ago in direct regard to interracial marriage. Fundamentalists back then were just as rabidly vocal about two people of different races marrying as many of them are currently with homosexuals. All manner of rhetoric, as many should remember, came down on those who favored these unions. False warnings of "social breakdown" and "holy retribution" rang out all over this nation at the mere mention of two races uniting in marriage. Well, I think we can all agree that humanity has not suffered as a result. We're still alive, fire and brimstone has not rained down from the heavens, and life still goes on pleasantly for everybody. Fear is the primary motivation people like this cling to in their ceaseless campaigns against equality. It is the same foolhardy attitude that will bring them insurmountable embarrassment and shame when they one day realize just how silly and pointless their current crusade really was.