I am a white, straight male. I have two children and one grandchild. I’ve been married to the same woman for almost twenty-seven years now, and if we both live long enough, we will most likely celebrate our golden anniversary together. No, I am not gay. But…do I have to be gay to be concerned?
My first experience with prejudice happened when I was only about 10 years old. Describing it takes a little background. My favorite male entertainer was Sammy Davis Jr. There was something about the quality of his voice that did things to me. (I find the same effect with Ann Murry.) When he sang WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I, it sent shivers down my spine. So, when I found out that he had a Thanksgiving Day Special in 1960, of course I wanted to watch it.
My mother’s family always got together for Thanksgiving Day. (I believe that this is a tradition with most American families.) There were aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, third cousins twice removed, the entire extended family that still lived in our home town. So, as a ten year old boy, who was never interested in spectator sports, I announced that I wanted to watch the Sammy Davis Jr. special, which came on at the same time as the big football game. I was, of course, in a minority of one, and soon realized it. But…one cousin decided to use my request as a reason to make some of the most repugnant racial remarks possible. He questioned my race, my parentage, my sexuality and my citizenship, because I liked one of “them.”
No, I did not feel the full effect of racial prejudice. No, I did not suffer even half as much as a ten year old black might suffer even today. But, I certainly came out of that experience knowing what prejudice was all about.
This event occurred back in 1960, before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, before Martin Luther King Jr. became known to every house-hold in The United States, and before the Rev. Jerry Falwell felt it necessary to preach his segregationist message from the pulpit. Now, Jerry Falwell, while not a champion of racial equality, has changed his tune and admits that racial equality is the plan of God. But, he still preaches his anti-homosexual drivel.
As long as prejudice against any one person is tolerated on the basis of an innate physical characteristic of that person, our entire society suffers. (Yes, homosexuality is a physical characteristic in that it is biological.) As long as any one person, especially a pre-teen child, is allowed to suffer because he likes or admires a person who is a member of any minority, our entire society suffers. That is the reason why I am involved, That is why, this is such a big issue for me. And while we aren’t there yet concerning racial prejudice, while we aren’t there yet in terms of feminism, we are a long way from being there when it comes to our attitude towards the gay.
I am a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, straight, American male. These things are a part of me. Some of these characteristic are innate, meaning that they are a part of my genetic makeup. The others are acquired, meaning that my circumstances of birth determined that this is what I would be. I had no choice over any of these characteristics, and while I could choose to change some of them, (but not all of them,) I have seen no reason to do so. While they don’t define the totality of my character, they do help to define me. And…I am proud of each one of those characteristics. I am proud of the accomplishments of my race; yet I am knowledgeable and intelligent to be shamed by some of it’s evils. The same applies to my sex and sexual orientation, my faith and my nationality.
When we reach the point that the red, the black and the yellow can say that about him or her self and not be suspect of being anti-white; When we reach the point that the woman can say that about herself and not be accused of being a bull-dyke; When we reach the point that the gay can say that about him or herself without being accused of trying to convert the world, THEN I will rest!
For now, I am compelled to speak out against all prejudice, no matter the victim.
Since there is more to accomplish for he plight of the gay than there is for all the others, that is where I concentrate my efforts. Part of my reason for this is because I know that my efforts for the gay will be generalized to both racial minorities and women. You don’t often see a champion for the gay who is prejudice against other races or sexes, but a person prejudice against gays can be an advocate for racial or sexual rights.
I could earnestly pray that all overly bigoted people be reincarnated as gay, homeless, persons of color, but reincarnation is not a part of my belief structure, so I don’t believe that it would be effective.
Writing as “Uthur, from the Town by the Sea,” the author contributed to Whosoever while attending church in a UCC congregation in the Pacific Northwest Conference.