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The century of hate began with the prosecution of Oscar Wilde on account of his homosexual relations. No matter how brilliant or entertaining the writer who loved women but felt attracted to men, Wilde would be sentenced to prison. His homosexuality did not bother him, but the persecution destroyed him.
The hounding of gays continues to this day.
For some reason the treatment became greatly amplified during WWII. Even the eccentric homosexual psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan somehow justified his government role in winnowing out gays from the millions of new military volunteers trying to enlist, mostly using the methods of forming trust and then asking if they ever felt attraction to anyone of the same gender. Perhaps Harry had the mindset of a gay conservative of the time.
And still things got worse. The oppressive 1950’s became a time when the murders of known homosexuals were scantily investigated; raids upon gay taverns became a popular way to intimidate and harass; gay livelihoods and gay lives could be ruined by publishing the names of bar patrons in any one of the numerous newspapers of the day. So low was deemed the value of the gay or lesbian life that these tactics increased in frequency and harshness well into the 1960’s with the approval of the news editors, the D.A.’s, the cops, and the insensate public at large.
Then something different happened: gay folks stood up for themselves. But for the reaction at the Stonewall Inn and at similar establishments, for the countless demonstrations and countless personal acts of heroism, and today, but for the gracious force driving so many young men, boys and girls, to come out and share their stories on Youtube and social media, do we dare ponder how much worse things might now be?
And still the oppression continues. The people who ate their chicken sandwiches at Chic-fil-a in order to demonstrate solidarity with the CEO’s denunciation of equality persist indulging in a lifestyle of unquestioning obstinacy, and to some extent, are rewarded with a sensation of ease and a smug sense of superiority over a minority population which has traditionally been shorn from its dignity, driven into the shadows, and denied a familial history. Their effortless turning-of-the-head shuns not only the gay person, but also enables the denial of responsibility—personal responsibility for torment engendered by spiritual ineptitude or laziness, for schadenfreude won through predatory persecution, and for not asking the self hard questions.
Could the health crisis have been avoided if marriage equality had come about shortly after Stonewall?—We’ll never know, although this missed scenario seems possible. Could we have avoided the surge of suicides in the population of gay children in Minnesota and elsewhere if ballot measures like proposition 8 not been introduced?—Likely. What amount of the suffering of gays might be caused by me?
My guess is that some of Chic-fil-a’s customers are feeling cornered. All accurate science has disappointedly failed to support their beliefs and stereotypes about homosexuals, DADT has been proven to be no more than prejudice wrapped in a bad idea, and gay weddings have contributed to the type of prosperity and stability that benefits us all.
The homosexual minority stands defiantly at the wall of the last refuge for those who oppose equality. But even the Holy Bible is a letdown in the fight to purify society by denouncing all things gay—in the book are just too many soap-opera betrayals, too many acts of brutality, too much normalizing of slavery, too many required stonings like the rule that a father must stone a non-virgin daughter to death, too many marriages between one man and umpteen women—with scrutiny the Bible reveals its imperfection.
This skerfluffle involving Chic-fil-a isn’t just about politics and culture—it’s also about the pain of using Christianity to justify prolonging the cruelty of devaluing the most life-sustaining and important relationship because a person is gay.
Los Angeles, CA