% IssueDate = "7/7/03" IssueCategory = "People" %>
Photography Courtesy: Badpuppy
We get distracted. The political and religious right tries its best to sidetrack us so that we're living in terms of their agenda, not ours. And they've got national think tanks to tell them how to take charge of the discussions.
Yet, there is really only one issue. Put simply in sound bite fashion: it's the right to love whomever anyone wants to love. Period.
Why is that so hard for people to get? Why is it so hard for us to stay on task and keep something as important as love in the forefront? Why is it so easy to get caught up in discussions that sap our energy instead of just saying that this is about the freedom to love?
It's not about whether it's a choice. In fact, why do we care whether we can help being LGBT or not? The issue is irrelevant to love. Come to think of it, love is best when it is a free choice.
It's not about idealizing and achieving straight-acting relationships. Straight-acting relationships are failing all around us and disappointing heterosexual couples right and left.
It's not about whether religion and tradition affirm or reject anything at all. Down through history, we find religions and traditional ideas affirming or rejecting everything that's ever happened or been believed. And we know that often religions that have preached love have also sometimes actually while claiming to be loving supported deaths and war.
It's not about waiting to respond to the next right-wing initiative. It's about having a real gay agenda that's a long list of everything we want, and about pushing the agenda.
It's not about changing the prejudices of the extreme right. It's about being out and about in the potentially supportive middle.
It's not about whether or not other people like us or think we're too pushy. It's about securing our equal rights and full equality.
It's not about being understood. We are complete human beings who deserve to be treated as fully human human beings whether people understand us or not.
It's not about the need to give those who don't "understand" us more time. How many generations more are we willing to give up? How many more millennia are we willing to lose to people with prejudices?
It's not about making sure that anti-gay positions are represented, as if we owe them some sort of equal opportunity. They already have the leadership of a political party, a grass roots network of thousands of churches, newspapers, magazines, radio programs, radio stations, and cable networks to get their ideas across. We've got to get over our liberal guilt about this as if we owe our abusers more "equal time."
It's not about smiling understandably while we listen to "friendly" politicians apologize to us because they can't support our issues when their reelection is on the line.
It's not about being able to be quietly invisible as we work in our workplaces, learn in our educational institutions, or walk down our streets. It's about never having to hide our love by putting photos of a lover in our desk drawers, changing or avoiding pronouns in conversations, or remaining at a safe distance from the ones we love when we're out together.
It's not about whether or not some historical, political, or entertainment figure is LGBT. It's about our own value, and our own lives here and now.
It's not about whether our LGBT communities have dysfunctional, or down right crazy people in them. Of course, we've got messed up individuals just like every group. We have no need to apologize for them either.
It's not about our being attracted to the same sex. It's about our parents', children's, politicians', religious leaders', and institutions' homophobia, anti-LGBT prejudices, and poorly defined self-concepts.
It's actually not really about sex. It's about love. One of the many ways to express love is through sex, but people are not gay-bashed only while they are having sex. They are gay-bashed for showing any signs of love to the same gender.
It's not about whether or not we really like sex or we act sexually. It's not about whether we have lots of sex or none. It's not about the kinds of things we do in bed. The envy, fascination, obsession, falsifications, condemnation, and emotions expressed around LGBT sex in our society reflect our culture's sickness about sex and pleasure. Our critics may not get this, but it's to our peril if defending ourselves centers around an issue so confused by our culture.
It's not about whether or not the oppression of LGBT people is better or worse than racism or other oppressions. It just doesn't matter whose oppression is worse. How tacky is that argument? All oppression is connected, and it's all reprehensible.
And, it's not about whether people think that talking about love is some pie-in-the-sky, far-fetched, wouldn't-it-be-nice, woo-woo idea that our dominant war-based society considers unrealistic. If people think so, that's an expression of their own cynicism, fatalism, hopelessness, feelings of emptiness, past disappointments, failures to experience love, and inadequate upbringings.
What we're asking for is nothing more and nothing less than changing a fear-based society to a love-based one. Few believe this can be done. Fear is so integral to our way of doing things that we can hardly conceive of a world without it.
What we are asking for is something everyone needs, and deeply wants. Even if we don't get there soon, though, the core issue that's simple enough to be expressed over and over in sound bites, and radical enough to cause trouble, is the right for everyone to love whomever they choose.
Robert N. Minor, Ph.D. is the author of Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human (HumanityWorks!, 2001), and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. He may be reached through www.fairnessproject.org.