Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why the Gay Parade is not only fun, but important. Still.



     On Friday, the Supreme Court recognized the right for gays to marry throughout the 50 states. Make sure you don't miss the laughable legal somersault John Roberts does in his dissent, basically saying that acknowledging this Constitutional right deprives each state the joy of crawling toward that realization on their own. Boo-fuckin' hoo. 
     Sunday is the Gay Pride Parade, and while the ruling guarantees it will be an extra joyous one, at some point someone will ask, "Hey, now that this right is finally won, do we really need to march?" 
    I'll field that one.
    Short answer, yes, as laid out in a column about the 2011 parade (which, sharp-eyed readers of my Chicago memoir, "You Were Never in Chicago," might recognize as the parade that appears at the end of the book).

     When I told a neighbor that I would be riding on a float in Chicago's 42nd Gay Pride Parade Sunday, he grinned giddily, fluttering his fingers in front of himself and trilling an effeminate "hoo-hoo!" noise that I guess was supposed to be an imitation of a gay man.
     And some wonder why there's a parade . . .
     I didn't correct him or challenge his thinking. "Gee Biff, that offends me and offends the dignity of gays, lesbians, transgendered, bisexual and non-determinate people everywhere." That isn't my style. Too timid. I even may have laughed along, shamefully, caught off guard by this sudden ugliness, and stymied by the conviction, had I argued, that rather than shift his view of gays ("Gosh Neil, thanks, I just never thought about it in those terms...") I'd just tar myself as a humorless ideologue in the thrall of the gay agenda.
     Which I'm really not. To be honest, I couldn't care less about other people's sex lives, and it also shocks me that there are those who do, passionately, feel that the Lord God Almighty is ordering them to stick their big bazoos into the personal business of others.
     Don't they know their history?
     It didn't start with gays, you know. Remember bastards? It's a general, low-level insult now, but once it was a specific legal term - a man born out of wedlock - with implications regarding his right to inherit property and marry. The rules are in the Bible.
     "A bastard shall not enter in to the congregation of the Lord," Deuteronomy 23:2 tells us, "even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord."
    Society doesn't fret about bastardy anymore. Ditto for divorcees. Things change.
     Gays are next in line to be let off the Bible-based hook, and it's been fascinating these past 20 years to see them shedding their pariah status. As with previous biases—against blacks, against women—the iron law began to melt. When I joined the paper, we wouldn't list a gay partner as a survivor in an obituary, not even if they had been together 30 years. It was policy. Kind reporters would get around that by quoting the survivor as "a longtime friend." AIDS changed that; with so many gay men dying, denying them this final shred of dignity seemed pointless and cruel. And now New York State is allowing gays to marry.
     Among the first people I talked to Sunday after I joined the throng pouring from the Belmont L station was Kelly Cassidy, state rep from the 14th District. She told me that someone had broke into the warehouse where the parade floats were stored last night and slashed the tires of 51 floats. I replied that this had to be a hate crime.
     "It's hard not to think so," she said. "After the huge victory in New York, with so much to celebrate . . . The first parade had no floats. There were no go-go dancers. We don't need floats to have a great parade."
     The vandalism discouraged no one whom I spoke with. The general opinion is that Illinois will follow New York in legalizing gay marriage.
     "It's going to be coming soon," said Jacob Meister, founder of Civil Rights Agenda, an advocacy group whose float I rode on.
     I thought of the Nazis who had gathered outside the dedication of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, unwittingly underscoring the need for such a place. Ditto for the slashers—a grim reminder that gay people don't march in the street once a year because they're exhibitionists. During the AIDS crisis, they were marching to save their lives, and now they're marching to insist that those lives and loves have as much worth as anybody else's.
      Seeing the parade from a float was pure fun. The whumping Lady Gaga music, the sea of waving, smiling, joyous people—gay and straight, young and old, every color, everyone having fun. I waved and clapped and yes, shimmied a bit. How could you not?
     Correction: not everyone had a good time.
      "Repent heathens repent!" a man yelled through a loudspeaker. "God hates all of you! Jesus Christ hates every single one of you! Homosexual sex is demonic sex! You're demons!"
     This wasn't the Westboro Baptist Church, but the Street Preachers, sort of a Westboro Wannabe. A bearded man among them asked me if I believed what the speaker was saying.
     "No," I said.
     "Why not?" he demanded.
     I paused, thinking. "It's like what Louis Armstrong said when asked to define jazz," I said. "'If you have to ask, you'll never know.'"
     That seemed to puzzle him, but I walked away and left him in his confusion. My job isn't to take every idiot by the hand and try to make him see the light. That said, the next time somebody does one of those pinky-lifting lisping bits, I'm going to assume the most steely glare I can and say, "That's not funny."
     —First published in the Sun-Times, June 27, 2011

67 comments:

  1. I hope later on you did say something to that neighbor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Some of the gays at that parade, as I hear, act or dress in ways that encourages stereotypes.That is the opinion of some non flamboyant gays, as I'm told. Also, years back, I heard of some heteros that wouldn't attend incase they got on the local news and were then thought to be gay by others who saw that.

    Don't sell yourself short, NS. For some people, some of your comments in past blogs, did get them to think-"okay I never thought about it like that."

    Also, do remember that there are some non religious who didn't care for gays either. In some traditions, that still carries a stigma. Also, extreme Christians aren't the only type of religious persons that are anti-gay.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I must be a non- sharp reader. I didn't notice that as the parade in the back of the book. And here I thought I was well educated and fairly smart.

    Anyway, I guess Louis didn't know this definition- nor did he need to



    Jazz Definition

    dictionary.search.yahoo.com



    n. noun

    1. a type of music of black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are particularly associated with jazz, although guitar and occasionally violin are also used; styles include Dixieland, swing, bebop, and free jazz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Talking about reaching for an insult. I meant "sharp-eyed." I'll fix it.

      Delete
  4. Well, best wishes to them then, nor harm intended but some still don't understand it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the great thing about our country. We don't have to understand why people do the things they do, we just have to acknowledge their liberty to do so, as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others.

      Delete
  5. Thought I would link to this here since more people might see it. Nate Silver wrote this about how fast things changed about gay marriage. You also might want to check out the Andrew Sullivan essay he linked to.
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/change-doesnt-usually-come-this-fast/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, that was fast. Too bad African Americans had to go through a lot more for a lot longer and for more serious reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  7. There's one term (fading now but quite popular a few years ago among the young people in my high school) I would like to see used as a positive rather than a negative in reference. One reason the term is fading is because young people now can have openly gay relationships. We even had a prom king and queen that were a gay couple. In the future I would like to see any overcoming of a harmful and discriminatory practice as "That's so gay!"

    ReplyDelete
  8. I remain amazed at how many passionate advocates of gay rights in the U.S. don't give a flip about about the plight of gays in other countries. There will be thousands of people at the parade Sunday who will be vacationing to countries where homoexuality is either illegal or where violent homophobia (and by violent I mean up to and including murder) is tolerated, and if you asked them to change their plans they would look at you like YOU were from the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Speaking of the W.B.C., I was shocked to discover that the infamous "Rev" Fred Phelps had received multiple awards from the NAACP - apparently in the 1950s and 1960s he was a civil rights lawyer and a pretty brave one at that. (He was later disbarred for a violation of legal ethics - I forget which). When neo-nazis tried to make common cause with the W.B.C. they were informed about this history and rebuffed. I wonder what snapped in the guy to make him so hateful, but there's a lot of cases in history where people go from one extreme to another (Eric Hoffer wrote a book about this called "The True Believer" IIRC).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The amazement is self-imposed. You have no idea where people at the parade are vacationing, or how they would react if they knew what countries like Jamaica are like. Since Africa is such a humanitarian nightmare, singling out gays for concern -- which doesn't help anything anyway -- is an exercise in focused futility. I always take it as a kind of backward praise when the thing you choose to carp about is especially tangental, such as today's harumph.

      Delete
    2. Good point,NS. I take back my comment at the bottom. Ana is not the smartest here.

      I take offense though at you saying "idiots" as if anyone who disagrees with you is stupid.

      Delete
    3. The "idiot" referred to the guy heckling the pride parade, and those like him. Choosing to extrapolate that to "anyone who disagrees" with me is your own novel interpretation. Me, I listen to the disagreement and, if it makes sense, sometimes amend my views. "God hates all of you," is idiotic. Feel free to disagree.

      Delete
    4. thanks for clarifying that

      Delete
    5. NBC says there were 1,000,000 people at last year's pride parade. Having been to some of them I have a good idea what the demographic is. I think saying that a lot of them will be vacationing to the Caribbean is about as speculative as saying a lot of them are going to have a cold sometime this summer. As for the rest, I'd be delighted to see a column to help inform these supposedly clueless people what countries like Jamaica are like and have my cynicism proved wrong: maybe you'd get a lot of mail saying "I never knew - that changes everything." My experience tells me people don't tend to be moved by politics to inconvenience until there's a "critical mass" out there. I'd also find a column where you talked to some of the human rights activists pushing for such "focused futility" and why you dismiss their work to be interesting too but I'll save ranting about that subject for the "off-topic" room.

      Delete
    6. Mr. S- I thought I read in that book that a relative of yours didn't feel like going to the parade that time, but didn't catch the end meaning you speak of, I'll have to recheck it.

      Delete
    7. Mr. S doesn't do column topics by request.

      Delete
  9. Ana, Are you speaking mostly of mid eastern Muslim and/ or traditional African nations?

    That is interesting about Phelps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well Russia is anti gay, not sure about China. Israel is more open, except for the orthodox.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately it includes nations closer to home - Jamaica is arguably the most homophobic nation on earth (officially sodomy is a crime, unofficially violence is rampant), other Caribbean nations similar.

      Delete
    3. That's because of their connection to African culture and that's a no no there.

      Delete
  10. A point on Roberts' dissent:

    What NS doesn't mention is that the gay marriage movement's leadership (and other prominent figures like Andrew Sullivan) were making the same arguments Roberts does not that long ago in order to empower the original states that passed civil unions and gay marriage and later to protect the gains in those states from things like DOMA. As time passed opinions shifted, but there was even a divide on the appeal of California's Proposition 8,

    It'd be easy for me to say "I always said gay marriage was just like Virginia v. Loving" - I did, but at the time the idea that the Supreme Court - or almost any appellate court - would agree with that was crazy and that approach would have got gays nowhere fast. To get tangible achievements, the federalism approach worked, even if these arguments were cynically disingenuous and trashed a decade later. Do the ends justify the means? It's hard to argue that they didn't in this case, but I think at the same time we can acknowledge that something IS lost when we treat the Constitution and/or rule of law in this way. The Bush v. Gore decision is the most egregious example, maybe in history. When Obamacare first came up before the Supreme Court, nearly every observer - including most legal observers - played a political guessing game with Roberts, with his jurisprudence an afterthought. The Supreme Court has always been political, but not like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gee, why don't you bring up Dred Scott and Plessy vs. Ferguson too? The Supreme Court has been wrong in the past, so that gives us all carte blanche to get pissy and disparaging whenever it rules the way we don't like?

      Delete
    2. Scribe - those are different beasts - as terrible as those decisions were, you can't call them arbitrary. The reason Bush v. Gore is different was the hypocrisy - the justices for the majority had always taken a narrow view of the equal protection clause, then they explode it to give the election to Bush, then they add a footnote saying that because the case is so unique it can't be cited as precedence in the future. Different.

      Delete
  11. How about just saying -I'd like to add- instead of saying NS didn't say this or that.

    Hmm, I suddenly feel like I'm doing homework for law school and getting a headache.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With all that study on it, I presume you must be gay, ANA-not that there's anything wrong with that.

      You belong to that Mensa brainy society, right?

      Delete
    2. I wrote that because I'm reacting to the extreme language he used to ridicule Roberts ("laughable legal summersault...boo f***** hoo"), not just the Roberts dissent. Apologies for the headache - we need to get civics out of law schools and into the grade schools!

      Delete
    3. I was just watching them Fri. eve discussing the school pensions among other things. Surprised to see skilling the weatherman on there.

      But you aren't in the McCl. group. Try to remember that.

      Glad you explained that. I thought you were just being a blowhard finding some obscure point to pick on. Now I don't feel like slapping you anymore.

      Lady

      Delete
  12. Well even in high school, U.S. government courses, they don't get that indepth on legal cases other than the big ones like Brown v. the Board and such or Plessy.

    But I see your point now or what you meant, again more diplomacy can be used.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A note I make occasionally: yes, I'm being critical here, but the tone always seems to be heard more harshly. Imagine you're watching the McLaughlin group or something when you're reading that.

      Delete
    2. perhaps because you say it in an attack mode manner

      Delete
  13. Heck, they don't get that indepth in 100 level college courses.

    I hate to admit it but you are smarter then anyone here, blog host included.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naw. But I can be glib and sometimes that's mistaken for intelligence! I think I just have too much time to read newspapers. NS can be profound when he works at it (yes, I realize the (unintended and undeserved) condescention in that, but I'm too tired to think of wording to avoid that..

      Delete
    2. I'm inclined to think that deep down we're all shallow on matters of constitutional construction. It's not one of the hard sciences. But for those interested in getting a clue about how the justices go about their job, I would recommend "An Introduction to Legal Reasoning," By Edward Levy, former Attorney General and Dean of the U. C. Law school.

      Tom Evans

      Delete
    3. I expect that deep down we're all shallow when it comes to construing the Constitution. Many currents of thought. Almost more of an art than a hard science. To those interested in getting a clue to how the judges go about their business I would recommend "The Introduction to Legal Reasoning," by Edward Levy, one-time Attorney General and also former Dean of the U. of C. Law School

      Tom Evans.

      Delete
  14. than not then


    but still a bully

    ReplyDelete
  15. I know the parade will be fun for you, you'll be on a float.
    But I certainly don't want to be in a gigantic crowd of drunks. While I'm sure that most will be happy drunks, this year's parade is definitely going to be the last in Lakeview, because I have zero doubt there will be massive trouble there.
    There will be more people than ever on streets & sidewalks that just aren't capable of handling it.
    And I have a bad feeling, some of the dead enders will show up to protest the SCOTUS ruling.
    There are going to be a lot of tired & frazzled cops there tomorrow & that's also a problem if there's trouble, either with protestors or out of control drunks..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They didn't just win the World Series or the Stanley Cup. This is a life affirming moment, a freedom given after pitiless denial. I think the tone will reflect the joy without the negatives associated with other types of celebrations. Yes, there's likely to be a couple out of control drunks, but isn't there always?

      Delete
    2. Clark St. -- I agree with you about the crowds -- nobody invited me this year, but I'm happy not to attend. It's a logistical nightmare. Last time I ended up walking a few miles to get to an 'L' station that wasn't mobbed. Do you really think it'll move out of Lakeview? That'll be sad but, perhaps, inevitable.

      Delete
    3. @WendyC: There were many problems last year with drunks at this parade. It's where the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Parade got to when they just cancelled it for a few years because it was out of control.
      The neighborhood just can't handle this anymore, it's too congested without a parade.

      Delete
  16. Enough about this worn out topic already.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Clark, could you explain to a far suburbanite, why the parade leaving Lakeview and why this would mean trouble?

    Here is a quote from Justice Roberts' dissension and he could add more groups to that list today.

    In his written dissent to the Supreme Court's decision to effectively legalize gay marriage in all 50 states in the United States, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made a conspicuous gesture to the rest of the world. He referred to the "social institution" that the majority of the court was "transforming," and anchored its legitimacy in the currents of history.


    ...the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who do we think we are? Well, I think we are a society that has progressed a long way beyond more ancient and provincial societies whose goals and understanding of human behavior were much more limited then ours. As has been pointed out before, marriage has been transformed multiple times throughout the ages. Why, women are even free to marry or not as they choose, and marry whom they choose, an idea that would have been preposterous to a majority of the human population over its history. It still is in some cultures, but those who oppose marriage equality generally don't seek to emulate those cultures in other ways.

      Delete
    2. The article that your quote is from goes on to raise some interesting points about the customs and behaviors of the cited groups:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/06/26/justice-roberts-cited-the-traditions-of-four-cultures-in-his-dissent-on-gay-marriage-heres-what-he-didnt-mention/

      Delete
    3. I find it odd in the extreme that, in a desperate attempt to shore up the status quo, Roberts cites cultures whose accepted practices would make us cringe.

      Delete
    4. yes, especially those human sacrificing Aztecs

      Delete
    5. The dissenting opinion stated who are a few lawyers(meaning sc judges) to decide
      what marriage is. I believe that was from Scalia, if I'm not mistaken.

      Delete
    6. Yet who better then the justices of the Supreme Court to determine that equal rights for all are protected under the Constitution?

      I found that angle of Scalia's dissent to be rather silly and disingenuous. Why even have a Supreme Court, if that's what he thinks? He didn't have any problem with "nine unelected lawyers" deciding that corporations are people.

      Delete
    7. You've got it backwards. The parade has outgrown Lakeview. The streets & sidewalks are just too narrow for a crowd this large. They should've moved this year's parade downtown. There were a lot of people that wanted that for this year, but some very influential people in the community want it where the largest gay community resides. A few years ago, that was fine, not anymore, it's just a logistical problem, as in no parking & the L & Metra stations are too far away.
      There were probably be a far far larger crowd this year due to Friday's court decision. Most will be happy, but many will be drunk. Happy drunks are fine, but even they will be pissing on lawns, porches, gangways & in the streets.

      Delete
  18. A/N/A- shouldn't you be more worried about kids starving or women being abused in these nations or how awful their dictator gov'ts and militia / group infighting can be? Perhaps lack of medical supplies or helpful can be considered as something more impt too.

    Ana, I'm curious to know if you ever read one of NS books.

    Have you ever been published outside of some educational institution's academic type paper or journal?

    As to Mr. S, have to agree with another poster that "boo fricken hoo" is something that seems to simplistic an explanation coming from a professional writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps. But remember, this is my hobby blog, where I write stuff every single day without fail. It is not a "professional" undertaking, that nobody pays for it. Since it's written for my own entertainment, whatever "professional" lapses I feel inspired to commit are, by definition, correct.

      Delete
    2. Very well indeed; I rather enjoy those "lapses" which aren't lapses. Please don't change your "blogcabulary".

      Delete
    3. Belated response to Anon - absolutely on both counts (I've posted about those topics frequently here - NS' response is similar) and I've read most of his books (only flipped through pranks and failures) and suggested he use one of a number of inexpensive services to turn them into ebooks (his response was there is already a glut of used copies on amazon, but I think there's a segment of the public that doesn't like older used books...)

      Delete
    4. response noted

      Delete
  19. too not to before simplistic

    ReplyDelete
  20. I would tell that group in the picture above, no apology accepted-too little too late, they are just going with the wind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. they are more worried about their image now

      Delete
  21. So that's done now and now the new push, according to the paper is gender neutral bathrooms and all rest. and businesses should have 3? I'm sure that will thrill the owners of the establishments. Where does it end?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where does what end?

      Delete
    2. The new push isn't bathrooms, it's employment - see the reaction to the Indiana "religious freedoms" bill. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/us/gay-rights-leaders-push-for-federal-civil-rights-protections.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

      Delete
    3. Incorrect, if you're referring to the proposed law in NYC.
      What's being proposed is that if a business has two or more SINGLE PERSON toilets for public or employee use, they can no longer be designated male or female. The proposed law specifically exempts single sex toilets that are for two or more people at one time, such as the huge single sex toilets at sports facilities.

      Delete
  22. Replies
    1. I'm not sure gender neutral bathrooms are that big of a deal. With one person bathrooms it makes more sense -- anyone can use any bathrooms. In Japan, you can be standing at a urinal at a public park and a family troops by. They also share public baths. Believe it or not, many of your personal hang-ups are passing fashions, not eternal truths handed down at Sinai.

      Delete
  23. Not everyone is into pronouncements from Mt. Sinai.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that was kind of Neil's point.

      Delete