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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Cup Of Tolerance

I have a confession to make: gay marriage interests me not one whit.

I am simply not energised to have a position either for or against it, though I am a traditionalist in general. For people like me, marriage has a special meaning which goes far beyond any legalese. On the other hand, I find telling people who they can or cannot love absolutely appalling. It hovers between being uncivilised and heartless.

But once voters have spoken on a topic, I have a tendency to be pragmatic about it, even if it means it goes against my personal ethos. This is why I can live in a world which tolerates abortion (or what I consider an interpretation of children as being matters of convenience) and not go mad.

What does make me cross is when I see certain groups of people acting like hooligans, thereby making their cause unsympathetic. The first is a genuine horror, as literal violence towards anyone is disgusting, especially those who probably go around making anti-violence their personal cause. The second is just a lack of savviness, something which really irritates me.

When Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, he insisted on all the delegates present (including many Marxists) to dress in full evening dress, white tie and tails, all.

This Viennese arbiter elegantiarum knew the power of respectability, and the effect such a visual had on a less than willing populace.



The same, incidentally, was true of Dr. King, who was at pains to show himself and the freedom marchers around him, in as decourous a light as possible.



Obviously, the times were different. Today, one can roll out of bed and literally go outside without anyone being aghast. But it seems to me that the missing ingredient with the American gay rights movement is a moderate tone.

How do you get the Establishment to notice you; later, to accept you? You disarm them. Use cunning, use tactics, use logic. Have a core of people others want to be around, because it makes them feel better that they champion you.



Look at the people above.

See how they mistreat this old woman holding a cross. Even as I write, there are some reading this who are outraged about this lady's actions, and feel they should not spare her a moment's sympathy. They shouldn't even be fighting for the right to marry, they think. And if voters do not agree, they should be crushed for their bigotry.

In fact, it is this militant attitude that is their undoing. If you cannot work with the greater society to see your point-of-view, you are condemning your own side from the outset.

(I once had a troubled gay friend, a guy. He was in the closet, and once told me in a very pitiful, small voice that he felt certain his family would accept his lifestyle, but that he himself never felt comfortable in a male gay world. When asked why, one of the things he mentioned was that he felt embarrassed by the wanton displays in gay pride parades. It's not that he didn't want to be associated with that -- but he just wanted to be "normal gay", and not feel pressured to accept the more outré versions. My heart went out to him, and I hugged him. But I always wondered thereafter, how many gay people there are out there, who feel this way. Or, God knows, how many never really felt at home being gay, not because of "mainstream society" pressure to conform, but gay-centric pressure to accept any and all behaviours)

I remember once watching a very good film, The Dying Gaul. A gay screenwriter is unexpectedly courted by a film exec, who turns out to be bisexual. When called in for a re-write, he is forced to concede to make his main character straight. The exec tells him very plainly why.

Most Americans hate gay people. If they hear it's about gay people, they won't go.

I remember thinking, 'this is very brutal'. Even if you do not agree with this, there is a silver-lining. Unlike the difficulties of the primarily black Civil Rights movement, anti-gay attitudes hinge not on being, but acting.

(That is the sadness of real prejudice, of course. Physicality cannot be muted)

However exasperating, even insulting, it is to many people reading this now, I will say this: be happy. Attitudes change on a dime in this world.

It just takes the right atmosphere meeting the right attitude. As they say, there is no idea so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

What do you have to lose, then, after you've tried every other way and nothing seems to work, but to help it arrive in style?

That's not a question of fashion, you know, but of real urbanity and knowing how the world works.

One thing is certain: you will never win the fight if you knock down old ladies to the ground. Between an old lady, and a gay person, society will always choose the little old lady.

Come on, guys. Use that collective brain of yours, which has given the world so much beauty and light and say goodbye to the dark violence.

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10 Comments:

  • Brava! So well said. These are the most undemocratic people. Their way is the only way and anyone dares to oppose there will be hell to pay.(sounds familiar, Jihad?)

    When I was young, I was so sympathetic to the gay people. I am still very fond of Anthony Blanche. I love Maurice and Another Country (not the Baldwin book) and yes, I had a gay friend in high school. But living in New York after high school opened my eyes mostly because of the exact behaviors of so-called "gay community" that you just described. Again it makes me think about the mentality of the eunuch. The choice of BO's chief of staff. If there is such a thing as a powerful eunuch in modern society, this one is definitely a poster boy. An unfulfilled ballet dancer turned politician? very interesting!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Nov 18, 01:23:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria,

    I am so glad you wrote this post. It's like you are reading my mind sometimes. I have had many mixed and uncomfortable feelings since this Prop 8 business blew up.

    My 2 best friends are gay guys, and they are like your friend that you describe. They are not particularly flamboyant, for lack of a better word, and I think they experience as much "gay-centric" pressure as they do from straight culture.

    I am for gay marriage, for many reasons: some libertarian; some from a gut-level sense of right & wrong; and some because I have a 1-yr-old and a 3-yr-old... and I know either one of them could end up being gay (I'm one who believes homosexuality is something you're born with), and I wouldn't want them denied that privilege.

    Anyway, I feel untold frustration at gays who seem to think that everyone should not only agree with them, but feel every bit as passionately as they do, full-blown outrage and all. They are moving the goal further and further away. Worse, they are moving tolerance of gays further away (in my opinion.) As you said, if you want people to turn against you and your cause, act hateful and extreme.

    Anyway, some of these things are probably considered "unacceptable" to say by several commenters on Althouse. Glad I could say them here instead and avoid getting hammered. [Hopefully!]

    By Blogger knox, at Tue Nov 18, 04:56:00 pm GMT-5  

  • What's love got to do with it?

    If love required marriage, life would be an error.

    By Blogger JSU, at Tue Nov 18, 05:59:00 pm GMT-5  

  • All of the Prop 8 protests I've been to have been peaceful, and I wouldn't call them protests even, rather, they were more like gatherings. There are always going to be fringe incidents like in the video (which wasn't violent, btw--they knocked the cross to the ground, not the actual lady)...on both sides.

    By Blogger Zachary Paul Sire, at Tue Nov 18, 06:22:00 pm GMT-5  

  • All of the Prop 8 protests I've been to have been peaceful, and I wouldn't call them protests even, rather, they were more like gatherings. There are always going to be fringe incidents like in the video (which wasn't violent, btw--they knocked the cross to the ground, not the actual lady)...on both sides.

    I accept that these are fringe elements, but they are by no means isolated instances, Zach -- even if you were not present to witness them.

    Take this group of Christians who regularly and before Prop 8, without incident, would hang around the Castro District. They would get some abuse, which is normal.

    But this isn't normal. This is escalated hate speech and aggression which doesn't belong anywhere.

    And there is something very sad about your attitude regarding that old lady, where you don't consider her having been spat on and hit on the head (as the report mentioned) as having been 'violent'.

    Again, there is a segment of gay America is that militant, not by any means all of it. But it pains me to see even this small sliver running amok because they dilute their message.

    You know what helped to turn Americans against segregation? Seeing white Southern cops hosing down peaceful black protesters. That was revolting for everyone concerned. Had I lived then, I'm sure I would've marched on Selma too.

    Fighting for your rights certainly doesn't mean having to be a patsy.
    But give us a chance to support you without being complicit in the flip version of hate.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 18, 10:21:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Brava! So well said. These are the most undemocratic people. Their way is the only way and anyone dares to oppose there will be hell to pay.(sounds familiar, Jihad?)

    Thanks, Anon. I think any extremism is similar to each other. In many ways, the hateful "pastor" Fred Phelps symbolises that. And how about the anti-Obama Michael Warns crowd? They hate him because he's pro-gay (is he? I think he shows a certain froideur towards gays).

    When I was young, I was so sympathetic to the gay people.

    The gay people! Reminds me of a Margaret Cho stand-up routine.

    I am still very fond of Anthony Blanche. I love Maurice and Another Country (not the Baldwin book)

    Heh. I am reading a bio on Brian Howard right now.

    and yes, I had a gay friend in high school.

    I'm fairly certain we all have had. :)

    But living in New York after high school opened my eyes mostly because of the exact behaviors of so-called "gay community" that you just described.

    Outré behaviour is tedious amongst straights too. I myself don't concentrate any one group, though I'm not implying you do.

    Again it makes me think about the mentality of the eunuch. The choice of BO's chief of staff. If there is such a thing as a powerful eunuch in modern society, this one is definitely a poster boy. An unfulfilled ballet dancer turned politician? very interesting!

    LOL. I should really type that 'Eunuchs throughout the Ages' blogpost that your earlier mention inspired.

    I've been indolent for the past few days, so I've been doubling up today -- might have a flurry of posts tomorrow, before I take a breather again. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 18, 10:30:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Anyway, some of these things are probably considered "unacceptable" to say by several commenters on Althouse. Glad I could say them here instead and avoid getting hammered. [Hopefully!]

    Never here! :)

    By now, the readership understands where I am coming from, and if they do not, I can always discuss matters further.

    But there is no "official line" on Sundries on anything. I am an anti-Statis, free market, traditionalist. That's about it!

    I am glad, Knox, that you have thought out this topic -- especially given your role as a parent. I agree; I too believe homosexuality (as anything else) is biological, but again, I am just not interested in the general topic beyond a brief (but perhaps overdue) mention now. :)

    I am more interested in the law & order aspect of it, because that's what makes a civilised society.

    Interestingly, I finally saw Battle in Seattle, and this topic touches on similar aspects of struggling against society, how to go about it, and when is it too much or too little.

    I have to review that and QoS soon, drat it!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 18, 10:36:00 pm GMT-5  

  • If love required marriage, life would be an error.

    Marriage is a great institution. Yeah, but who wants to be in an institution.

    Teehee. An oldie but a goodie.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 18, 10:38:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Incidentally, in case anyone was wondering, I had originally titled this blogpost:

    "We'll drink a cup of kindness yet" from the memorable Scots poem by Burns, Auld Lang Syne.

    I changed it at the last minute, for whatever reason. I think both capture what I am trying to say though. I hope.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 18, 10:42:00 pm GMT-5  

  • "Heh. I am reading a bio on Brian Howard right now."

    Victoria, you are brave! Are you reading Lancaster's book on Howard? I thought the book was out of print. I am so afraid to read her book. Waugh said the better part of Blanche was based on Harold Acton. I read everything I can find on Sir Harold. If he was still around, he would not have been happy to have a Philistine like me as a fan.

    Thanks again for writing this wonderful blog.

    BTW, "Preserving Traditions – Crossing Borders – Assuming Responsibility", sounds like a good agenda for the Republican party? This is Bosendorfer piano's pitch. Such a nice slogan, yet, hardly anyone knows the very fine piano. Good thing / cause needs to be promoted vigorously.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 19, 05:40:00 pm GMT-5  

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