DIVIDED WE (STILL) STAND

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Gays are scary people.

Not the gay next door who provides for his parents and carpools his nieces to day care. Or the fellow who fixes my car. Or the lady who cuts my hair.

It’s only the media-hyped homosexual that makes me cringe and withdraw. Those clusters of erotic exhibitionists captured on camera for our viewing displeasure. Scurrilous straights cause me discomfort. But vulgar gays make me ashamed.

Harvey Fierstein has expressed impatience with people like me. He once called us “leeches” sitting silent on the sidelines while proud gays pave the way to equal rights for the majority of us “slackers.”

I like Harvey a lot. I admire and respect him for his courage and integrity. I think he’s a superb actor and writer and a fine role model. He gives gays spirit.

But I don’t think he understands that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society. We don’t want to clone our ethics, or edit our emotions, or conform our lives to any corrupted concept of happily ever after.

If I could sit down with Harvey Fierstein, I’d tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same woman for 43 years. But we won’t wed, not even though we work to support those who choose to. Not even if the Supreme Court makes marriage rights a reality.

Because, for most of my generation, love is our legacy. Not marriage. We aren’t joined by dowry, arrangement, prestige, or necessity. We aren’t bound by license, law, or nuptial contract. We don’t stay together for the sake of religion, parents, children, social stigma, economics, or expediency.

We’re connected only by love. Since time began, it’s has been the code of our culture. And, since love is holy, what we have is sacred.

So, I’d assure Harvey that – even though the alleged “gay agenda” seeks to stir us into the debauchery of that marriage melting pot – wedlock isn’t the priority of our majority.

It isn’t even our dream. Our culture is just more valuable, valiant, imaginative, romantic and hopeful than that.

I’d tell Harvey we dream of the day when gay men, who have the highest rate of disposable income in America, stop wasting their resources on purchasing the promise of eternal youth and utilize it to create safe havens in the heartland instead.

We imagine gay doctors, nurses, therapists and health care officials joining forces to build medical centers. Gay lawyers combining talents to establish legal firms. Gay singers and comedians backing gay-owned-and-operated restaurants and nightclubs. Gay athletes creating gay health complexes. Gay financiers building banks. Gay actors starting theaters. Gay educators forming charter schools. Gay religious leaders developing denominations that embrace gay people by interpreting ancient text in the spirit of divine law.

Our desire is to cultivate our culture, not to abolish it.

To elevate, not to assimilate.

To create, not to copy.

To lead, not to follow.

To record our history, not to erase it.

I’d question Harvey as to the purpose of new laws, when the constitutional law of equality has not yet been upheld for all Americans – guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.

Why we insist on being accepted by those who haven’t earned our respect.

Why the blessing of love isn’t regarded as its own reward.

And why we must diminish the sanctity of ourselves by kowtowing to those who quietly curse us.

Finally, I’d extend my arms in friendship to Harvey Fierstein, asking his pardon on behalf of all (perceived) leeches marching proudly, quietly, differently, but wholeheartedly beside him.

Because I think he understands we hold these truths to be self-evident:

That cowards follow the crowd.

That courage follows the heart.

That virtue makes equality inevitable.

And, that straights are scary people – too.

# # # #

This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times nine years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2004 • 2013)

Please select REPLY to share your thoughts on love, marriage, and equality here.

I’m all eyes and heart.

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15 thoughts on “DIVIDED WE (STILL) STAND

  1. margueritequantaine Post author

    Thank you Bren. I was shunned by some in our community for first writing this, but I stand by it. Inclusion shouldn’t require blind faith. It must respect those with reservations who support equality, regardless.

    Reply
  2. Mary Anne

    Marguerite, you said “that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society.” I think what most gays want is protection under the law. There are a lot of poor and middle income gays and lesbians who want the protection that a legal marriage can give them. It may literally mean the difference between life and death for some. Love may be a great legacy but not all can afford it.

    Reply
  3. margueritequantaine Post author

    I concur, Mary Anne. I don’t dispute what you say for a minute and neither does anything I’ve written. I want protection under the law and I believe striking down DOMA and ruling in favor of gay marriage by the Supreme Court will take a huge step in accomplishing that.

    I’m also saying, equality under the law has not yet been achieved by women, blacks, Jews, gays, and numerous other minorities. That in most states those affiliations are still profiled and lack equality in housing, employment, finance, healthcare, politics, religion and membership consideration.

    The laws guaranteeing equality for all Americans are already on the books. What we need is enforcement. What we must be cautious of is a blind faith that the way to equality is to adopt the laws of a heterosexual society that uses those laws to discriminate. I think we must retain our own culture within society, and be protected because we are truly equal.

    Reply
    1. Mary Anne

      Thanks for better explaining that Marguerite. I was way off track in the meaning I took from your blog originally. Thanks for taking the time to point me in the right direction.

      Reply
  4. katyhancock

    I’m 20 years old and I truly cannot believe that my parents lived in a time when racial inequality was prevalent. And I know the time will come when my children look up at me and marvel at how I could have been present at a time when inequality due to sexual orientation was around. Change is coming; love will never allow the current circumstances to stay in place.

    I’m a straight, white, middle class girl, but I recognize the humanity in each and every individual, and I will never stop being an ally for the oppressed.

    Reply
  5. margueritequantaine Post author

    It comforts me to know the fate of this world is entrusted to those, like yourself, whose heart embraces the nature of love. Your mother raised you well. I’m certain she’s proud of you. I know I am.

    Reply
  6. Jane Devin

    “I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.” Beautifully put. The whole article but this in particular.

    Reply
  7. margueritequantaine Post author

    I hear what you’re saying, Jo, and I support you on that, wholeheartedly. Still, while (technically speaking) it doesn’t require a piece of paper to make love and devotion valid — as long as the law of any given country or state outlaws it, the legality remains questionable and subject to prosecution. With any kind of intelligence and capacity of heart, that will change in America this week when the Supreme Court hands down its decision on DOMA and same-gender marriage.

    Reply

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