It’s taken me a long time to begin this post.
What finally sparked its genesis was Ellen DeGeneres and her impassioned speech on the death of Lawrence King. Because one male expressed his love for another at Valentine’s Day, the object of affection murdered the speaker, both eighth graders in Oxnard, California. One is now dead; the other likely bound for jail, because Larry King dared to openly acknowledge he was gay.
Most of us are aware of Ellen’s journey as she stunned the entertainment world by coming out during her very popular television show. She has staunchly supported gay and lesbian rights as long as I can remember, taking a private issue very public. The acceptance of gays as part of our culture needs to be a public issue. We need to talk about and acknowledge it. Ellen says, “It’s okay to be gay.” Others have said, “We’re here, and we’re queer.” Most gay and lesbian couples want no more than any of the rest of us take for granted: a nice home, meaningful work, an accepting church community. Benefits we earn to protect and care for our loved ones. The right to marry, or not, as we choose. Children, who may or may not grow up sharing our lifestyle.
Doesn’t sound unreasonable, does it?
For many years, this issue didn’t particularly touch me. I have always been of a liberal bent, never rigid about specific life choices. I don’t object to people who want to live communally, people who smoke pot, people who are (insert religion here), or people who are gay. Even Republicans! You know, as long as they don’t tell me what choices I can make, I give them the same courtesy. But not everyone believes the same way. There are many people in this country who believe they have to right to tell others how they must live their lives. Apparently, those who fall outside the norm not only risk discrimination and governmental harassment, they now risk death. Perhaps even at the hands of a child.
This scares me. The very real danger comes home to roost because my daughter K is a lesbian. She didn’t tell anyone for a long time. She didn’t even tell me. I had my suspicions when she and her partner lived here for the summer after K graduated from high school, and it slowly became clear that, although they were the ultimate in discretion, they slept together. K’s partner is a lovely young woman, bright, attractive, and I am happy as hell for both of them that they’ve found each other.
I don’t believe either of them has openly told their fathers, though. How sad is that after four years together. It’s a terrible stigma. If you can’t believe your own mother and father would support you, how can you possibly trust the rest of the world to accept what is a natural part of your being that you cannot change?
One of my long-time Internet buddies is a young man in Pensacola named Jordan. We talk about his life as a “gay geek,” and how he essentially uses the Internet in support of his lifestyle choices because he lives in the South in a community where he’s as likely a target as young Larry. How sad that is, too.
I’ve spent 20 years as a divorce attorney. One thing I know for sure is that there is NOT enough love to go around in this world. Anyone who finds real, meaningful love anywhere should take it to heart and run with it. I am thrilled that K found her special someone, whether he or she is white, black, purple, Jewish, Martian…I don’t care. I’m happy for her. And I’m proud that she can be who she is without hiding in the shadows. I’ll stand up anywhere with her and say, “It’s okay to be gay!”
For those wanting more information about how to support gays and lesbians you may know, see these websites: