Hypocrisy Alive and Well When it Comes to Our Treatment of Gays in America
Remember Constance McMillan? The teenage girl who was denied her own prom because she is gay? This case really got me thinking: bigotry obviously still exists, but to what extent? It could be argued that Mississippi is part of the Bible belt region; that southern states are so historically and actively conservative that we can expect this kind of hatred, but even so?
Whether same-sex relations are your thing or not, what is the damage in two girls dancing together? Or accompanying one another to a prom, romantic feelings aside? What is your proper version of a traditional or appropriate school dance, oh ye deep south? A drunken hoedown? A breeding party full of heterosexual orgies and procreation? As long as same-sex couples stay far from the punch bowl, it doesn’t really matter, right? Is it shocking that so much of the world perceives us as ignorant? I give McMillan kudos for even approaching school officials in the first place; to be a young, gay female living in the south is no small feat. She truly embodied what this country stands for (or used to stand for): “liberty for all.”
I’m aware that hate, homophobia, and discrimination exist all over – at grocery stores in Pittsburgh, at bars in Cheyenne, and the auto body shop in Detroit – but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Bible belt. It’s taught – preached even – that homosexuals are bad, inferior, filthy, disease-ridden trash. Self-styled Christians and homophobes sling these assumptions and accusations from pulpits and schools. Does Senator Larry Craig ring a bell? Just look to Reverend (well, not anymore) Ted Haggard to show how deep the hypocrisy exists. Minister of one of the largest Evangelical congregations in America, Haggard had been extremely vocal in his hatred and denunciation of gays. Haggard even claimed that Western Civilization could be “devastated” by same-sex marriage.
Craig, responsible for some of the most hateful anti-gay legislation in recent history – he even voted “no” on prohibiting both job discrimination and expanding hate crimes by sexual orientation - was caught seeking some man-on-man action in a men’s airport bathroom, while Haggard was outed by a male hooker that he enjoyed doing crystal meth with. Class acts! Karma is a bitch for the repressed hate-mongering closet-case, no? The everyday gay male doesn’t solicit gay sex potty houses or have to resort to a prostitute for companionship. It’s ironic (yet amusing) that two of the biggest bastions of the homophobes end up being the most disreputable. I’ve always had the opinion that if you have a problem with someone’s sexuality, must constantly denounce it, or always defend your own, something isn’t quite right. “Doth protest too much, methinks.”
Either way – the south isn’t the safest place for gays, and I feel awful for what impressionable kids are being preached. And the fact is, officials and institutions still fail to protect gays from mistreatment. Ten anti-gay bills were passed in Oklahoma’s 2004 legislation – this kind of damnation is enough to scare anyone back into the closet.
“Home is where the heart is?” In many cases, the family home for openly gay teenagers is as dangerous as living on the streets of New York; not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically. The ignorance and hate preached to parents trickles down to the children. I’ve read stories of an outed lesbian being chased by her mother with a butcher knife to the age-old “faggot” name calling in the hallways of school. The opinion and support of those that are supposed to love you unconditionally is of utmost importance. Imagine the family home being a war zone. That kind of psychological damage is incredibly scarring. Most of these kids have been fighting a battle within themselves for years; threats and non-acceptance or trying to “change” them has only destructive effects on self-esteem and the psyche.
We’ve made great strides as a nation – a few states even acknowledge that gay and lesbian couples are just as “real” as heterosexual couples (imagine that?) and that they deserve equal rights under the laws. It’s embarrassing that a small corner of the country is so set in their ways, and that their hatred and bigotry spreads its wings over our legislative system. Will these hypocrisy-ridden “Christians” ever face their God and explain the damage they’ve done? I always thought we were taught to love one another. We weren’t taught who to love. Or how to love. Just to love.