Friday, July 22, 2022

Here we go again

Gov. Pat Quinn signing law allowing gay marriage in Illinois, November, 2013.

      Death was one rite of passage that could not be denied gay people. Back when they weren’t allowed to get married or adopt children, or sometimes even hold jobs, unless they concealed their true selves, they would still die, just like regular folks. Newspapers were then sometimes called upon to write their obituaries.
     Which posed a problem, back in the 1980s. Because their unofficial partners, the people who loved them and knew them best, their spouses without paperwork, while very real, could not be included in the printed summations of their lives. Newspapers had standards to maintain. We had rules, policies.
     That began to chafe, as AIDS scythed through the community. Barring their loved ones, who often cared for them while their disapproving blood relations turned their backs, seemed too cruel, even for daily journalism. Dodges were found. “He was a wonderful man,” said his “close friend,” or “longtime companion,” or “roommate.”
     The effort to catch government attention and actually fight AIDS helped break the silence — “Silence = Death,” remember? As the LGBTQ community stepped out of the shadows, it became harder to marginalize. It turned out that a significant part of the population is gay. They were brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.
     And all the reasons — haters always have reasons, they lack the courage, the honesty to admit their own bottomless fear and baseless loathing — for denying them regular rites of passage turned out to be nonsense. Allowing gays to marry did not destroy the institution for straights any more than allowing them to die undercut the solemnity of funerals. What legal same-sex marriage meant was less insecurity, more happy families, less abuse, more children with two-parent homes.

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  1. I never understood the stink over gay marriage.
    A wedding means people spending money & creating jobs: Florists, banquet halls, caterers, clothing rentals, etc.

    1. Sigh. It's plain enough. A wide range of people, uncertain of their own worth as individuals, need to have inferiors they can lord themselves over and oppress. The specifics hardly matter: gays, Jews, Blacks, immigrants, liberals. It has to be a group large enough to be handy, but not so large as to be able to push back with punishing vigor. Does that help clarify the situation?

    2. It's convenient when the "inferiors" are easily identifiable but it is part of the human condition regardless. I learned that when I lived in Italy. The northerners thought of themselves as superior to those living in the south even though they had very similar physical features and were of the same religion.

    3. You didn't have to go to Italy to find northerners who thought of themselves as superior to southerners. All you had to do was grow up in Chicago. I lived on the West Side until I was almost seven, which was long enough to clearly remember hearing about the "coloreds" and the "shvartzers" coming north by the trainload from Mississippi...and the "hillbillies" who were moving into our big apartment building. We had new neighbors from North Carolina. They were delightful...and a lot of fun to be around. First southern folks I ever met.

      My parents got us the hell out of Dodge. It was "white flight"...but nobody called it that yet. And it translated to "We're too good to have to be around those people...and they're not good enough for the likes of us." I guess I never bought into all that noise, because I later lived in an integrated town for years, loved it, and still miss it.


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