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(Aug. 6, 2012)

            On a recent Facebook post concerning the fact that the late astronaut Sally Ride never revealed that she was gay, I made this comment:
            “She had modesty, dignity, and the apparent belief that this was her private business. Unlike so much of the so-called ‘gay community.’”
            The response, from an old “friend,” came faster than you can say "homophobe."
           I am STRONGLY in favor of agitating in the face of oppression, so I will not criticize those who choose to come forward and ‘come out.’ It takes great courage to do so, considering the risk to one's career, family ties, and even a significant risk to one's life from those who oppress the ‘so called gay community.’ It is unfortunate that the existence and visibility of the ‘so called gay community’ might offend some people -- it's just too damn bad. They need to grow up.
            Well! Quite a speech. I guess “friend” put me in my place! (Especially with those all-caps.) Except. . .funny thing, he didn’t. Consider:
            I never said anything about “agitating in the face of oppression,” pro or con. I never “criticized those who choose to come forward and ‘come out.’” I never addressed these issues at all. Yet my little comment in praise of modesty had triggered a diatribe. And disguised insult (“They need to grow up.”)
             I wrote back:
            “I also favor ‘agitating in the face of oppression.’ I never criticized anyone who ‘chose to come forward and 'come out.'’ I am fully ‘grown up.’ I do not care for lack of modesty, dignity, in anyone, or any group, and the opposites of these laudable qualities are abundantly in evidence in all aspects of society, including the so-called ‘gay community.’ What is the real pity here is that my making such a benign observation arouses such apparent anger. (I say "so-called," by the way, because of the implication that there is one “gay community" that thinks alike and behaves homogeneously. No pun intended.)”
            “Friend” did not deign to respond, having accomplished his desired goal of saving face among his politically correct FB followers. (Some friend.)
            I repeat:
            Of course, what did I expect? One cannot make the slightest, vaguest, meekest hint of a sliver of a ghost of a suggestion of a criticism of the so-called “gay community” without incurring misinterpretation, accusation, overreaction, venom, proselytizing, and all-caps. Often with lots of misspellings and bad syntax, which came next, from a woman who shall here be known as “Bonzo.” Here is her first response, reprinted exactly as it appeared.
            The ‘Gay Community’ is only segregated because of the so called Straight community that chooses not to accept the fact that sexuality is not a choice rather an inborn variation. as much as blue eyes and blonde hair are a variation. We as a community of human beings must stop this discrimination so people like Sally Rider are not forced to hide their sexuality in fear of recrimination.
            Wow! Okay, let’s be nice and just give her “Sally Rider,” no points deducted.
            But how exactly did we get from “dignity” to “segregation?” Who said anything about “segregation?” And just how is the “gay community” segregated? Gays weren't exiled to West Hollywood and San Francisco---they took the places over! Are there “gay” and “straight” drinking fountains and bathrooms? Gays at the back of the bus? I mean, this is madness, people. And how did Bonzo decide that “Sally Rider” was “forced to hide her sexuality in fear of recrimination?” From everything I read, Ride’s family (assuming Bonzo was not referring to a real “Sally Rider”) charmingly explained that it was her “inherent Norwegian reticence” that led to her choice for privacy in her personal life. A choice that also extended to not going public with having pancreatic cancer.
            Sing it with me now: Ain’t we craaazy, ain’t we craaazy, for this is the way we pass the time away. . .

 Or, if you extrapolate from Bonzo’s statement that “keeping these matters private IS discrimination,” well, Bonzo is saying that Sally Ride discriminated against. . .herself!

            I mean, here I had praised Ride for choosing to exercise her right to privacy---a right rapidly disappearing in the Homeland Security States of America---and it had triggered two madcap P.C. rants. Yes, yes, I made the “provocative” comment that modesty and dignity and a belief in keeping sexual orientation private were not very characteristic of the “gay community.” Well, are they? Been to a “Gay Pride” parade lately? About the closest thing to modesty in these events is that participants do not quite copulate in public. And “outing,” or alleging homosexuality regarding various public figures, is such a sport that a magazine and film festival have been named for it.
            Yet here, “Friend” had gone nuts, talking melodramatically about the “courage” it takes to “come out” (yawn), and Bonzo, well, she could not conceive of a gay person voluntarily keeping homosexuality a personal matter.
            Heavens to Ellen!
            I confess that this just didn’t leave me feelin’ too gay. In the lovely, old-fashioned, practically nonexistent use of the word, thank you. Right, this little encounter didn’t leave me feeling like sniffing a little nosegay, or sauntering gaily down the sidewalks, or like my friend, Gay Balmores. I was, in short, ungay (both senses of the term apply here, actually.)
            So I did a silly thing. I drove to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and carried a big sign that says “God Hates Fags!” Not really! No, I did something even more ridiculous. I tried to use reason and clarity with Bonzo. (Permission granted to laugh now.) I know, I know, this like fighting a tank with a pea-shooter. Here is what I said:
            “Bonzo, I never said anything about ‘segregation.’ Allow me to make it clear: no group of people identified by a particular trait or characteristic thinks and behaves uniformly. There is a wide variety of opinion, attitude, behavior within any given group. This includes gays. This is why I put the word, ‘community’ in quotes when referring to pretty much any group. By the way, Bonzo, you have made a remarkably sweeping condemnation of all so-called "straight" people (I also reject that term, as it is subtly, connotatively pejorative.) I know countless heterosexual people who believe that being homosexual is almost always an inborn trait. But you, apparently, disagree with this, and condemn all ‘straight’ people merely on the basis of their being heterosexual. This is called ‘bigotry.’”
            Bonzo, who from her FB photo appeared to be in her 20’s or 30’s, responded by typing badly again, and saying more incoherent things. Here is one:
            The time to stop prejudice is NOW and it is time to stop it within each and everyone of our hearts. Your ‘suggestion’ that she should keep these matters private IS discrimination whether you want to admit it or not. Yo want to think of yourself as otherwise but !st you need to examine why you think that the mere mention of her sexuality should demand privacy.
            Yo! Yo, Rocky! Oh, sorry, I guess she meant “You.”
            See what I mean? We went from my simple, clear statement of admiration for Sally Ride’s modesty to. . .me somehow demanding privacy for her. Er, the only thing I demanded here was a bit of sanity, which was probably an insane thing to do. I mean, tweet tweet: Bonzo said that I claimed that the mere mention of Ride’s “sexuality” should “demand privacy.” Huh? I did? In what parallel universe? This brings to mind Bill Cosby’s explanation of running off a road and hitting a tree:
            “That tree jumped right out of the forest and bit my car!”
             But the thing that caused this homo erectus to go absolutely limp with amazement was not just the accusation that I, Evil Rense, had made Sally Ride keep her homosexuality private (well, not really private, as friends and family were well aware of it), but that I had. . .discriminated against Sally Ride!
            Or, if you extrapolate from Bonzo’s statement that “keeping these matters private IS discrimination,” well, Bonzo is saying that Sally Ride discriminated against. . .herself!
            Hickory dickory dock. Oo ee oo ah ah, ting tang walla walla bing bang. Boogie oogie oogie. Who put the bop in the bop-she-bop-she-bop? There’s a signpost up ahead, your next stop. . .The Twilight Zone. Or, as I am fond of saying:
            The snake eats itself!

You can’t make the flimsiest, foppiest, most emasculated swish of a criticism of the “gay community” without incurring pig-eyed wrath, charges of  bigotry, beating your wife (same sex or otherwise) or the old stand-by gay equivalent of “dirty commie”---homophobe!

            Now, I could have scratched my head bloody over the rest of Bonzo’s statement, but it wouldn’t have helped. I mean, The time to stop prejudice is NOW. Right, as opposed to, I guess, LATER. Still, I heroically pressed on. . .
            “Bonzo: Prejudice cannot be stopped NOW (as you type.) In point of fact, it can never be stopped. It is a natural part of human experience, whether relatively benign prejudice (watch out for Asian drivers!) or pure evil prejudice that manifests as discrimination and persecution. One can no more ‘stop prejudice NOW’ than one can stop violence.”
            I also haplessly explained that Bonzo was arguing with statements that had never been made, which I further suggested made her ideal material for public office. I added, darn me, that I could just call her an idiot, except this seemed a moot point. Just for fun, here is her final denunciation, in all its verbatim, hobbled glory. Read it carefully---it’s a sparkling specimen of modern American discourse:
            Well the fact remains that you and people like you that apologies and make excuses for the bigotry, that think prejudice is a normal part of the human experience ARE the problem. By making those excuse you prolong and allow this to go on for subsequent generation. Personally I think your friends that are convicted of hate crimes should be sterilized or they themselves segregated from society as not reproduce their hatred. Enough is enough and some of us have to stand up and say so. It is NOT ok it is NOT acceptable nor is it reasonable which is apparently what you want to imply here. Other societies through history have accepted and even celebrated this differences but the narrow minded "society" that has taken over the airways of the USA have corrupted decency. You apparently are being sucked into the swer with them.
            Now, you might be tempted to think that this verbal equivalent to pawing at the ground and snorting is so wretched that it should not be taken seriously. I say otherwise! Given what I read on the Internet and hear from TeeVee Newsmannequins, Bonzo’s comment passes for careful articulation here in the remains of the USA. It also passes largely for “thinking.” And you may disagree, but I think Bonzo’s ignorant, noxious eructations are entirely typical of 21st century expression, whether concerning gay matters or any other issue.
           I mean, look. I made a flattering comment about Sally Ride, a comment that endorsed her right to privacy in her personal life. Mostly I wanted to praise her for modesty, dignity, and principle. Yes, I implicitly chided the undeniably bellicose, prickly (no pun intended), provocative, and often deliberately salacious behavior of prominent members of the “gay community” (see: the silly “kiss-in” directed at Chick-Fil-A restaurants.) I suggested that the “gay community,” for the most part, does not agree with the late Ms. Ride’s attitude, which is not a statement of opinion, but of fact. I said nothing else, implied nothing else.
           Yet I was accused of (fanfare):  
            *Persecution of Sally Ride.
            *Persecution of gays.
            *Having friends who commit “hate crimes” (who, Bonzo offered with compassion, should be “sterilized” or “segregated.”)
            *Opposing “agitation in the face of oppression.”
            *Criticizing those who “come out.”
            *Not being “grown up.”
            *Dwelling in a sewer.  
            *(And to repeat, Bonzo also accused Sally Ride of discrimination, apparently against herself, for keeping her homosexuality a matter among friends and family.)

            And in the end, “Friend” who registered the first comment. . .deleted all of my posts!
            Now that’s what I call free speech!
            Funny how the first people to censor are so often self-professed liberals.
            So to repeat, you can’t make the flimsiest, foppiest, most emasculated swish of a criticism of the “gay community” without incurring pig-eyed wrath, charges of  bigotry, beating your wife (same sex or otherwise) or the old stand-by gay equivalent of “dirty commie”---homophobe! (How I avoided that charge here is beyond me. I guess it was too mild.) It’s exactly the same phenomenon with Israel and charges of anti-Semitism. Criticize Israel polices, and Alan Dershowitz and the Israel lobby magically appear on Fox and CNN, saying you must hate Jews. (Look at how poor Jimmy Carter was deserted by various longtime Jewish aides after he tried to stand up for persecuted Palestinians.)
             Say anything unhappy about gay, and you get the same sad result.
             It’s the old witch-hunt mechanism, alive and well, in the 21st century.
             Now, before dykes and queers (hey, this is what they call themselves, folks), announce a “kiss-in” outside my home, or worse, or denounce The Rip Post (I could use the PR, frankly), let me state some policy:
            No one should ever be discriminated against, persecuted, disliked, disapproved of, or in any way treated with the faintest disregard merely because of race, culture, ethnicity, gender, heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, toenail fungus. Behave like a jackass, though, and all bets are off. That’s my attitude, has always been my attitude, and I’m sticking to it. What’s more, the fact that gay couples are not afforded the same rights as married couples in terms of inheritance, hospital visitation, etc., is a tragedy and a travesty.
            Gee. What a strange thing to say for a person who has “friends who commit hate crimes,” for a person who “persecutes gays” and “dwells in a sewer.”

Gays do not live in poverty in inner cities, struggling to either endure or escape gangs and drive-by shootings. Being gay (and especially, gay and white) in America does not compare to being black, or latino, or Asian, in America.

            Now, just in case that egalitarian proclamation sent my stock rising in the “gay community,” let me dangle a little more raw meat to those who think like Bonzo and “Friend.”
            What is queering my attitude toward the “gay community,” so to speak, is the sheer hysteria over “gay marriage,” or any gay issues, as is evidenced by the little Facebook example above. Extra-terrestrials studying today's USA media would immediately conclude that “gay marriage” is the most important issue in human history. I mean, it’s as if someone took their finger out of the dike holding back perspective and sanity on the subject. So to speak.
            In short, I want a divorce from “gay marriage." I think there are roughly, oh, two or ten thousand more important matters troubling humanity. (Gasp, sputter, foot stamp---what did he say?) Here are a few: child sex slaves, child pornography, forced abortion, death sentences for adultery, poverty, starvation, ignorance, global warming, deforestation, melting ice caps, oceans choked with plastics, PCBs, the ongoing triple meltdown in Fukushima, North Korea, China, cancer, AIDS, drug-resistant TB, cholera, dysentery, terrorism, fossil fuel dependency, the endless manufacture of unnecessary non-biodegradable stuff, unemployment, population control, "outsourcing," offshore tax-dodge bank accounts, population density, mass transit, the dying middle class, the dying power of the press, animal cruelty, the daily corporate slaughter of billions of chickens, cows, pigs, species extinction, poaching, endless military occupation of the Middle East, McDonald’s, "The Shahs of Sunset," and “America’s Got Talent.”
            Uh-oh! I’m in real trouble now! What was that noise? Why, it was a massive eruption of bitchy coming from the direction of West Hollywood. Well, we’re here and we’re queer, Rense! Get used to it, homophobe! Nazi!
            I don’t care. I am sooooo tired of all the whining, all the drama, all the hugging, all the crying, all the anger, all the hand-wringing, all the ridiculous, overwrought protesting, all the Chick-Fil-A, all the boiling down of the gay marriage issue to discrimination.
            Yes, discrimination against gay people in this country has a long history (as does so-called tolerance of gay people, incidentally.) To repeat: to equate discrimination against gays with discrimination against ethnic minorities---certainly African-Americans---is ludicrous. Gays never had to eat at gay-only restaurants, sit in the backs of buses. Gays were never enslaved. Gays were not denied the right to vote. Gays were not lynched by the thousands. Gays were not put into concentration camps, as Japanese-Americans were. Gays do not live in poverty in inner cities, struggling to either endure or escape gangs and drive-by shootings. Being gay (and especially, gay and white) in America does not compare to being black, or latino, or Asian, in America. (As Eddie Murphy famously told a crowd of gay males at the Hollywood Bowl years ago, “All you have to worry about is not getting caught with a ---- in your mouth.”)
            I mean, instead of adolescent “kiss-ins” and branding everyone who is not completely comfortable with the idea of gay marriage a “homophobe,” perhaps the "gay community" might try a little. . .restraint. Dignity. Courtesy. After all, Tab A into Slot B is just the bio-norm, like it or not, and it’s entirely understandable that many people are little uneasy about the idea of Tab A playing with Tab A, or slot C, and we’ll leave the ABC metaphor there. Especially when “I do” is involved.
           And my position on gay marriage?
           I’m not going to tell you! As I said, I don’t think it’s important, and besides, what I think about any issue is a private matter.
           Which is something that Sally Ride would have understood.


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