The O-town Scene

May 10, 2012

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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the DIVERSITY SCENE Gay Rights is Not a Social Issue town Main Street of Oneonta, bustling with students and artists and sprinkled with coffee shops and independent book stores and kind smiles, it is easy to forget that the rest of the country is quite differ- ent. Oneonta is one of those happy American bubble cities, like Ithaca and Austin and Pittsfield, where the general cultural mood is enlightened, inclusive and community-minded. To grow up gay in a place like By Kevin Eggleston Walking down the lovely down- this can be, with a little luck, a relatively painless and even joy- ful experience. It can make one contented. It can encourage escape and detachment from the broader struggle. It becomes easy to ignore the outside world. It becomes easy to lose one's anger when one is safe. But angry is exactly what LGBT individuals should be. We should be mad as hell. Because some of us aren't born in college towns. And for those people, life is hell. In fact, some choose to end it rather than endure the hatred. In Missouri, legislators are at- tempting to pass a "Don't Say Gay" law that would restrict what teachers could say to their students. In North Carolina, which passed Amendment One on Monday, May 7, banning same-sex marriage, the Rev. Sean Harris of Fayetteville recently gave a sermon encouraging parents to hit children who exhibit behaviors outside of gender norms: "Dads," he addressed, "the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch, OK?" At a church in Raleigh, the Rev. Patrick Wooden decried homosexu- ality as a disgusting behavior that causes men to wear "diapers and butt plugs." The only purpose of such language is to rile up hatred and disgust. The results of language like this, history shows, can be deadly. Religious organizations across the state poured in money to sup- port the amendment's passage. There are some wise souls, such as NAACP chapter president the Rev. William Barber, who denounced the amendment as "codifying discrimi- nation into law." But his voice is the exception, and the law passed with more than 60 percent supporting the legal discrimination of same-sex domestic unions. and in our discourse to treat the gay rights issue like just another social debate. But abortion, the death pen- alty and gun control are legitimate issues with legitimate arguments on both sides. There is a tendency in the media Opposition to gays and lesbians, and their rights and societal inclu- sion, is born of bigotry and the more brutal, basest tendencies of re- ligion, and to treat purveyors of hate as mere voices of the opposition is a civil gesture we can no longer afford. They are at war against us, and we have to fight back. Because every day another gay child is born into a family whose parents listen to the words of the hateful, that child's life is put in danger. Gay rights is about family values, and for the sake of children, we have to fight harder. We have to fight for the LGBT family, which for some, is the only family they have. Fighting back can mean traveling to North Carolina and campaign- ing against Amendment One. But it doesn't have to. Fighting back is also about little moments of courage. It's about referring to your boyfriend instead of your "roommate" in daily social interactions. It's about telling your grandfather that his homopho- bic words are hateful and damag- ing. It's about refusing to shake Sen. James Seward's hand. It's about telling people who condescendingly describe themselves as "tolerant" that you do not wish to be endured like bugs at a picnic. It's about com- ing out to those you love, because the number one reason minds change is when someone discovers Our contributors talk about different aspects of diversity, from LGBTQ issues to questions of ethnicity and more. To submit a column or event, email Duke University sophomore Jacob Tobia celebrates after a fellow student confirmed casting their ballot during early voting against the marriage amendment on April 27 on the Duke University campus in Durham, N.C. The amendment passed May 7. Associated Press someone they care about is gay. Fighting back is about ignoring those awful "Don't Say Gay" laws. It's about saying I'm gay, over and over again, right in their faces. These moments aren't easy. Fellow LGBT folks themselves may call you annoying, or pushy, or worse. But these acts are essential if we are to change the zeitgeist and save lives. It's time to shame those who act shamefully. It's time to get loud. It's time to get angry. The fight is far from over, and the stakes are enormous. Quentin Crisp liked to say that in an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. And he's right. And things are moving in the right direction. But not nearly fast enough _ there's love yet to give. So man up, and be yourself, and fight for who you are. Love is war. And we're all in this together. is a playwright and teacher. He can be reached at keggles88@ Kevin Eggleston 20 O-Town Scene May 10, 2012

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