Benny's World

Friday, October 15, 2004

Closet Children

When I was a kid, I remember there were maternity homes for teens, although they were less used after Roe V. Wade made abortion legal for women. What I recall most about these "girls' homes" was that the girls that were sent there were ashamed of being pregnant, but even more so by their more well to do parents. Their pregnant girls were a problem, and they often told their friends that their children were spending the school year in France or some other place. Today, because of parental consent for abortion in many states, a young woman might be forced to go to one of these homes because her father raped her and she's afraid to ask for parental consent. That is real shame when she cannot approach her mother without being blamed and the husband doesn't tell the truth, or doesn't want to hurt her mother, especially if the mother hasn't a clue what's happening. Shame gets into protecting others at times.

It appears to me that Mrs. Cheney is angry because she has to defend a "problem" with neo-cons and evangelicals, now that Mary Cheney's sexuality has been brought to the forefront. Many of us moderates and those who have supported gay rights have known all along about Mary Cheney and applauded her work in industry. I don't think what Sen. Kerry said was totally out of line, but perhaps he could have softened it a bit as Sen Edwards did. But Mrs. Cheney needs to further embrace her daughter knowing this issue would arise, and doing so requires meaning in public and acceptance of her difference of sexual orientation. Eleanor Roosevelt was attacked many times on the campaign trail as a certain black "lover" (although the Southerners used the derogative) and for other things, but she took she tried hard not to openly attack back; instead, she wrote about the issue at hand or about hate letters she received concerning her comments on her daily "My Day" columns. The First Lady ER privately shared her dismay or disappointment with the oppositon with friends via epistles or gatherings.

I keep wondering if the Vice-President and Mrs. Cheney continue to have the opinion, "Don't Ask Don't Tell." In one respect, they are right that someone's business in the bedroom isn't our business. Mrs. Cheney may have thought she could have it both ways, but when she discovered when she couldn't, it hit a nerve with her. So she unleash her ire at Sen. Kerry on the newswires, but not on the site.

It'll be interesting to see if Mary Cheney and her partner have any public words about this. Some gays have felt a little uncomfortable with Sen. Kerry's comment, as reported this morning in the Des Moines Register, and by the
Log Cabin Republicans whereas some of the Rainbow sticker people found it laudable. If very conservative voters are in denial about gay partnerships, perhaps they should look to Ellen DeGeneres, who has a very successful show on tv and likes kids as much as the next person. We have other tv situational comedies with gays that have been successful.

President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan were in denial about the seriousness of AIDS until their friend and fellow actor Rock Hudson died. It was then that AIDS got attention and provided some federal money for research. Mrs. Cheney, your daughter will likely not have AIDS, and she has the right to inherit property without red tape if her longtime partner should die before her, and also get any benefits left to her (and vice versa for Ms. Cheney's partner). Doesn't it make one think also Mary Cheney should have the same rights as her parents...and without having to be in the closet when it's convenient during election time?

Kerry's response about the comment regarding Mary Cheney (from the Des Moines Register):

Kerry: No, I don’t. I said it in a very respectful way about their love for their daughter. I’m surprised at the reaction. I was saying it in a way that embraced their love of their daughter as an example of parents and real situations in America, that recognize people for who they are. They love their daughter. I love my daughters. We’re like any family, and all I was trying to do was point out that - that - I mean - let their daughter speak. Was it a choice, or was she born the way she was? That was the question. I was being respectful, purely respectful . . . I was trying to point out that they’ve embraced their daughter and that they don’t raise questions and that Dick Cheney himself is against a constitutional amendment. A reflection of love and, I think, recognition of who their daughter is. So I was simply trying to, in a very respectful way, honor who she is as an example - as a prominent example - of choices that families face all across our country, and it was completely meant in a constructive way in terms of their love and their affection for their daughter. No other way.

On JREG, there is a woman whom we all admire because she is conservative, and generally well-reasoned. She's in college, an older student in her mid-20's. Yesterday, she appeared to be confused about whether or not homosexuality is a choice, and it turns out, the word "preference" was the crux of the matter.

My first college experience was at a women's university. The dorm I lived in had many lesibans. I had hung out with some lesbians before in high school, but at the time I had thought a couple of them were not really lesbians, but were fed up with guys who wanted sex unaccompanied by intimacy of real friendship. So lesbians didn't bother me.

One of the gals, who was not a lesbian, I hung out with had a boyfriend we all liked as he was so friendly, handsome, and had a cool car that he hauled us around in. He was attending the co-university across town, so we saw him frequently. He attended our parties, and we thought he hung the moon. Some of us were in touch with him over the summer as he wrote really thoughtful letters.

But before we went back to our hometowns for the summer, the guy we all admired came of the closet. We were all surprised. He was not the type to dress or act effeminately, so we thought he was a heterosexual. He proved that we try to classify something that is not obvious such as the color of our eyes, skin, voice, etc as terms as race, creed etc. One would also argue that one may not know a person's religious affiliation either, which is protected under the law, and you certainly cannot tell if someone is married, which we are not allow to inquire about either. For me, what surprised me and was hurtful was that he had a difficult time explaining himself to his girlfriend, but she also didn't pick up the signals, such as he had only kissed her a few times in the 2.5 years he knew her, and not once made a sexual advance. I recall a year later, this same man took me to a "gay" bar in a large city nearby. There were men making out in one of the booths. I felt uncomfortable, and he sensed it. He asked, "do you not think this is OK when straight couples do this in bars?" I replied, "I feel uncomfortable when straight people do this in bars. Can't they go out to their cars where's a little more private?" He agreed I had a point. But deep down, I was still shocked by what I saw. I think it was because I felt I was in more competition with other women than ever, at a time when the population figures tipped the scales with more women. These men were so attractive, friendly, and I had no chance to have an intimate relationship or to have a marriage and family with any of them.

I do not think same sex attraction is a choice, unless they are taught that it is a choice which is what the conversatives have been trying to push for years. Having sex, whether one is heterosexual or homosexual is a choice, but the internal workings of physical attraction are not. I will say this and without offense to the good folks like Mary Cheney. I have thought for years there needed be a different term for men who are homosexual. Lesbian works because it's a solid term that identifies gender and sexual orientation. However, gay is a derivative of an old word that meant

mirthful, merry XIII; bright-coloured, showy XIV; dissipated XVII. — (O)F. gai,
of unkn. orig. One would think that is appropriate, but not all. Source: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology

I didn't know gay also meant:

Hence, in slang use, of a woman: Leading an immoral life, living by prostitution

Source: Oxford English Dictionary

Gay was a lovely adjective until 1935 when it was used in a vague way, but more clearly in 1951--both in American slang. Then other damning words such as "fag" (which also meant cigarette) and queer (odd) followed. These are pejoratives that I didn't think were appropriate for homosexuals.

With the many fine linguists in the world, we can have a more definitive term that is new and can stick for this millenium, if not longer. I believe it's time that the Log Cabin Republicans got their wish of getting beyond, "Don't ask, don't Tell, " as they wrote to Ed Gillespie two weeks ago. While no one's sexual habits are our business, these good men and women who are homosexual deserve to have equal footing with all of us.