Old habits die hard. For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to debates and speeches with an ear tuned to what the politicians of the day would or would not say about gay folks and our issues.
For three decades, I pricked up my ears to hear what would be said about AIDS, gays in the military, constitutional amendments to prohibit gay marriage (which is what we called it before we got wise and switched to “marriage equality”), and transgender rights. It’s been quite a ride.
So here we are in 2015, and the “gay thing” shows up at this week’s Republican debate. It seems Dr. Carson, one of the two current front-runners in the nomination sweepstakes, was on the board of gay friendly Costco. I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Carson is not gay friendly…assuming that one’s friends do not denigrate one’s relationship as inferior because one’s genitalia matches one’s partner’s. (Okay, maybe not match, but you get the point.) So, he got a question about the clear inconsistency between Costco’s corporate values and his own personal beliefs. It was a lame question, but that’s not my point.
Dr. Carson responded by saying, in part, “They shouldn’t automatically assume that because you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman that you are a homophobe.” Which got me to thinking (you KNOW that’s dangerous), maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s not afraid of the gays. Maybe he doesn’t hate the gays. Maybe we have the wrong word to define people like him who would use their religious beliefs to deny other people their rights. Maybe the right word is bigot or zealot or extremist.
But those words are kind of harsh, aren’t they? So, I’m going with “crank.” It fits the bill and has the added benefit of being rather dismissive.
Now, I fully acknowledge that some gay folks are scary. I’ve seen drag queens who could make a burly (not girly) man crawl under a table. Bianca Del Rio comes to mind. I’ve also seen big muscled guys (not the gym bunny variety…they’re about as scary as crème brulee) with the boots and the leather and the spikes and the…oh, I better stop before this thing goes over the cliff. In too many cases, however, those guys look scarier before they talk. Which may be why the ball gag was invented. But I digress.
So, I say to my husband, “Maybe homophobe is the wrong word. Gay people don’t scare straight people anymore. Look at the sweet couple on ‘Modern Family.’ We need a new word. We’re just not scary anymore.”
With his penchant for understatement, Karl replied, “You’re scary. You can be really scary.” Really? Me, little ole me? Well, maybe…so where IS that ball gag?