Loud and Proud vs Keep It Down Back There
BY ROB SALERNO - Yup, I'm still talking about the need for more out-and-proud public figures.
Kris Joseph, an "out, proud, kinky professional actor" (according to his blog) based in Ottawa posted an interesting rant on his blog about the need for gay public figures to be out. Read the whole thing, but this is the best bit:
As adults, we can all make choices about who we associate with, where we work, and how we present ourselves. We can steer clear of bigots, and play the pronoun game in our day-to-day business. What a luxury. Teenagers and kids in schools do not enjoy these freedoms. They can’t choose their school, often; can’t choose their social circles; can’t choose their work environment. A gay kid — or even a kid that is simply perceived as gay — must walk brazenly, every day, through an obstacle course of hatred, fear, and a feeling that They Don’t Fit. On a daily basis, these kids demonstrate a level of courage that some public figures — those who hide their sexuality for the sake of personal advancement — will never know...
Stop telling kids it gets better. Make it better. Hold hands in public. Put your arm around your lover on the bus. Correct people when they assume you’re going home to someone of the opposite gender. Don’t assume Ellen Degeneres and Neil Patrick Harris have the gay role model jobs sewn up.
Kris Joseph (left) in Hamlet's Cat.
Providing the counterpoint, The Irish Independent (which I've been quoting a lot lately) ran one of those "enough with the gay rights talk" columns that sounds like it comes straight out of the 1990s. You know, the ones that are headlined "Loud and proud gays want to take over the rest of society" without a trace of irony.
After opening with the acknowledged cliché "some of my best friends are gay," writer Eamon Delaney goes on to lament that "it seems as if the tables have turned and a minority community -- the gays -- want to increasingly change mainstream culture to suit them."
Then his rant goes on to lament that gays no longer think that civil partnerships are enough and that queer people parenting children can never be as good as a child's natural biological parents, missing the point on both arguments.
Gays don't deserve marriage, he says, because gay magazines are full of ads "endorsing late-night gyms, sex lines and a freewheeling sexual activity which would be dismissed as sleazy in heterosexual culture." You can only enjoy marriage or phone sex, which is why there's no such thing as heterosexual phone-sex lines.
Wait, what's that? Oh, there are? But they don't advertise, do they? Oh, they do? You mean, if I watch Batman: The Animated Series on Teletoon Retro I'll see a phone-sex ad at every commercial break? Well, that just proves my point. If you're watching Batman: TAS at midnight on Teletoon Retro, you're probably never going to date a woman anyway, am I right?
Similarly, gay parents can't ever be as good as a child's natural parents, even if the natural parents are meth-addicted child abusers. Heck, even if one of the gay parents is the child's natural parent, because gay dads can't breast-feed.
Nevermind that most foster parents can't breast-feed or that most foster children are too old to breast-feed or that lesbian birth-moms can breast-feed.
Oh, and don't even get Delaney started on bisexuals and transgender people. It's not clear what Delaney has against them, but he obviously doesn't like them, or the acronym LGBT much.
All of this, he says, is why the gay community should shut up, lest it create a backlash that erodes the significant gains the gay community has made in recent years to eliminate prejudice and discrimination.
No, Delaney, you are the backlash. Tired tirades like yours are the reason that gay people must be out and loud and proud of who they are, so that people know that gay couples exist, and they have children, and that some children are gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans, and that it's not something you need to freak out about.
On that note, Absolut Vodka is celebrating 30 years of marketing to the gay community. Back in 1981, advertising in gay magazines was considered risky for a major business, but Absolut jumped on it and has been supporting gay causes ever since. Here are two of my favourite cheeky gay Absolut ads: