aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, September 22, 2006
On PDA (Public Displays of Affection)
I decided to further clarify my position on the air kissers, lest you think me in favor of wild public displays of affection.
Years ago I interviewed the father of a man who died of AIDS. That father was then very active in Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). He told me of his struggle coming to terms with his son being gay; and in that discussion with the camera rolling he very frankly told me, “I just couldn’t get past thinking about what they do in bed.” I didn’t use that clip but I have always remembered his words.
I have to tell you that I don’t like thinking about what you do in bed either. And you probably don’t like thinking about what your neighbors do. Or what your boss does or what your friends do or your family or… So we don’t think about it because we don’t have to. When a heterosexual couple goes too far at the beach or at the movies or in any public place, we are scornful and disapprove because, as is natural and fine by me, we don’t want to see them doing that.
The trouble is that with gay people the threshold is lowered so low as to include my calling my partner “dear” at the breakfast buffet in a family hotel. Heaven forbid I should walk down the Jekyll Island beach holding his hand with our dogs scampering around at our feet. Because we didn’t do that we had all kinds of people approaching us with warmth and friendly camaraderie. Why is it that all of that should go away if I dare hold his hand or call him dear?
Now I think gay people feed into this syndrome too. What too many of us do is assume that its true that the only thing that we gay people have in common is our sexual orientation; we deny and debate if there is any such thing as a distinctive gay culture. I’ve argued again and again over many years that there is a distinction between homosexual acts and a gay identity.
I believe being gay - coming out, accepting and openly embracing that orientation - is a choice, the healthy choice. It’s a choice that forms the basis of the shared history and experience at the root of our gay culture. And that experience - as with women or African Americans or any ethnic identity - has little or nothing to do with any sexual act. I’ve certainly known people who have come out as gay before ever having had any homosexual relations.
One impact of all of this is that all too often, gay people have tended to wind up in gay ghettos, unusual ghettos to be sure in that the fact of gays living there tends to increase property values and those areas prosper economically (whereas I live in the less tolerant and economically depressed heart of the Bible Belt right next to one of the poorest counties in the state.)
That’s my problem with the anti-gay marriage crowd. They’re fine with (or claim to be) this or that particular right but draw the line at marriage. I’m reminded how I felt as a young boy when my mother told me that babies who died before baptism could not go to Heaven but were not sent to Hell. They went to Limbo. I had a hard time accepting that then and I have an even harder time accepting that as my legal adult status right here right now.
SOME TIME LATER: Good heavens! They’ve abolished Limbo!
No air kissing allowed
On a redeye from San Francisco to New York the heterosexual couple in the seat directly in front of me had sexual relations. To completion. Traveling coach, they were too close for comfort. The flight attendants watched and giggled. They found it funny. I didn’t. I didn’t make a scene but I was darned angry.
It wasn’t American Airlines:
Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,” she said.
“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ “ Varnier recalled the other day.
“The touching and the kissing,” the stewardess said, before walking away.
Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. “He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We’d kiss-not kiss kiss, just mwah,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound.
In the row behind them were Leisner and Jackson. “They were like two lovebirds,” said Leisner, who is a classical guitarist. Frobes-Cross, a Columbia grad student who was sitting across the aisle, had overheard the stewardess’s decree, too. “First thing I catch is ‘You have to stop touching each other,’ “ he said. “And I’m, like, Whoa, that’s really weird.”
Leisner and Jackson, who were “astounded,” leaned forward to ask if they’d heard correctly.
Via Andrew Sullivan.
Green Screen Challenge finalist
Colbert had this one open his show the other night:
More on the challenge and Colbert’s embrace of fans here.