Friday, June 22, 2007

Mo and Me - Its is Gay Pride Weekend once again in Chicago. As I survey all of the preparations for Sunday's main event, I am struck by how much sway (seriously folks, no levity intended) gay white males hold over society at present, particularly over the culture. It goes without saying that gays dominate the world of fashion for both men's and women's attire (as documented by the New York Times.)

At a cocktail party at Chelsea Piers on Sunday night [December 4, 2005] an annual Toys for Tots charity drive that draws a crowd of mostly gay men, the designer Peter Som wryly observed that there were so many designers, retail executives and publicists present that if the pier collapsed, "there would be no fashion industry tomorrow."

Two months earlier, Tara Subkoff, the agent provocateur behind the label Imitation of Christ, had remarked during a public forum, with a great deal of irritation, that fashion "is a gay man's profession."
But beyond the (somewhat) stereotypical impression some have of gay men being "fashion forward," we can observe the great strides gays and lesbians have made in terms of societal acceptance. Openly gay and lesbian personalities such as David Geffin, Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, k.d. lang and others are part of the constellations of glitterati that reside above our lowly plane. And as gays and lesbians have become more conspicuous, the attitudes and behaviors of Americans as a whole have become more accommodating; we certainly could not have imagined similarly open and prolonged discussions of gays in the military and same-sex marriage occurring while Bush pere occupied the Oval Office.

To get an even more complete picture of the status of gays and lesbians, we can look at objective data from the Census Bureau's 2003 American Community Survey that suggests that male and female same-sex partners tend to be more educated than either married or opposite-sex partners. The same data indicates that male same-sex unmarried partners have the highest proportion of annual household incomes above $75,000 at 47 percent (versus 41 percent for female same-sex partners and 38 percent for married opposite-sex partners.) Similarly, same-sex unmarried partners were only slightly behind married couples in homeownership, with 76 percent of unmarried male partners and 71 percent of unmarried female partners owning homes (versus an opposite-sex married couples homeownership rate of 82 percent.)

Given the financial and other demographics of same-sex couples (particularly gay white males), coupled with the deference that is paid to gays and lesbians by way of political correctness, it is not too much of a stretch to propose that the gay community is the last redoubt of white male privilege. The latest evidence that such is indeed the case comes from the swift dispatch of former Grey's Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington. After rendering an ill-advised homophobic slur towards one of his colleagues on the show last October, in early June Mr. Washington was told that his services were no longer needed. Despite recent protestations to the contrary, it is self-evident that his most grievous offense was that of tilting against the windmills of protected (read privileged) minority status.

Contrast all of this with the recent anti-Catholic slurs offered by Robin Williams on Monday's Tonight Show (as discussed by the good people of NewsBusters.)
On the show, Williams pretended to play a game where the pedophile is hidden under a cup. Said Williams: "Here we go. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Here you go right now. Move 'em around, move 'em around. Oh, you found the pedophile."

Williams went on, placing his hand over his groin, saying, "You have to realize that if you are a Catholic priest, you have retired this. That's it--no more sex." Then Williams slammed confession. "But they are going to put you in a small, dark box and people are going to tell you the nastiest sexual stuff they have done.

The Catholic League's Bill Donohue sounded the keynote by remarking, "Isaiah Washington lashes out at one gay person in private, and he is banished from 'Grey's Anatomy.' Robin Williams lashes out against all priests in public, and he suffers no consequence." All of these events come together to give anyone but the most addled observer the impression that Catholics - along with pro-lifers, creationists and the FOX News Channel - are the new (please insert the "n-word") for the 21st Century, to be made subject to opprobrium and open ridicule. Ironically, this blatant discrimination against those not covered under the aegis of political correctness is done in the name of diversity.

Nevertheless, it redounds to our benefit for Americans to continue down the road of reasonable integration of gays and lesbians into the fabric of our communities. To that end, we should continue our efforts towards the repeal of the Clinton administration's disastrous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, as well as successful incorporation of openly gay service members into the military. We must also provide same-sex couples the opportunity to live in stable, committed civil unions in a fashion similar to (but not equivalent to) heterosexual marriage. As discussed elsewhere, "[c]onservatives must be wiling to make ethical differentiations between choices that affirm the life that God has granted to us, such as monogamous, committed relationships be they heterosexual or otherwise, and promiscuous lifestyles, again be they heterosexual or homosexual." And as they are so persuaded, religious denominations should to see to it that openly gay clergy are able to minister to their parishioners.

To be sure, in as much as we wish for people in same-sex relationships to take their rightful places as fully-formed adults, society must provide them the spaces to do so.

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