Friday, August 27, 2010

A Rare Good Thing amidst Deaf Falcons

The Times reports today that even Republicans are moving away from a reflexive demonization of out gay political figures:

'Had a former chairman of the Republican National Committee announced in 2004 that he was gay, it would have been a bombshell. In that hard-fought election year, Republicans and Democrats were rushing to condemn a court for establishing the right to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

'Six years later, in a midterm election cycle that is otherwise fierce, campaigns are largely silent on the issue of same-sex marriage — even as two federal courts have issued similar decisions in recent months upholding the rights of gay people to wed. And when Ken Mehlman, who ran President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 and then became the party’s chairman, said in an interview in The Atlantic this week that he is gay and is working to support a campaign for same-sex marriage, it was met with little controversy.

'Even the commentary accusing him of hypocrisy seemed outweighed by people who wished him well, or merely shrugged.'

I credit the Republicans not a whit for their move away from uniform, rank homophobia. It's change reflecting the country, and a calculation that political gain is best sought elsewhere, rather than an active acceptance of gay rights. But they are, in fact, doing it. Fair's fair.

I remain flabbergasted by the change in the country and the culture re gay folk since my callow youth, when people were mostly closeted, ostracised, beat up or worse, shrinks viewed being gay as a disease based on defective fathering and tried to cure it with talking therapy, everyone went through a phase of homosexual dread, being called gay was a universal insult and so on. I remember the Stonewall riot, and the first gay organization, ever, at my college, how strange it seemed to us that they'd be openly gay. Obviously, all that hasn't gone away, and work needs to be done: in particular, many, especially on the right as part of their extraordinary doublespeak, view gay folk as pressing for unique rights, such as the millennia-old right of straight people to marry and the 1000-plus legal rights and perks of straight couples. But we're going the right way, and my kid tells me it's a complete non-issue even amongst high school kids in the process of defining their own sexuality.

It's nice, in these fraught times full of ever shriller, crazier rhetoric on the right and insufficiently vigorous response from the Democrats, to note a positive change in the country. Now, on to a fresh horror...

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