Monday, May 25, 2009

State of the Gay

So, three items ... American Idol, the California Supreme Court Decision, and something called ADAP.

Kris, the sweet christian married boy from down Arkansas way beat the glam rocker Adam who is distinctly if not openly gay. The fundies had picked Danny as their candidate of choice, but he was second runner up.

It was not surprising, and I did call it. I think the thing is vastly more about middle-of-road-appeal than about gay/straight or christian/secular. Adam's followers were not doubt a hard core, and his every performance solidified us; but Kris won people over as he visibly grew and assumed the mantle of stardom. So when it came down to one on one, the normal boy spoke to more people. I figure it this way ... if Kris were a quietly gay Christian from the heartland, and Adam were a loud booze and chicks rock star, Kris would still have won.

On the finale, there was a genuine affection between the two, and the LA Times published an article on the day of the final competition that argued that their relationship was emblematic of the rapprochement that is sweeping not just secular society but young christians as well. Ann Powers, pop music critic, wrote:

In this complicated climate, one painted thumbnail means a lot. Allen began decorating one of his black -- one of Lambert's favorite colors -- late in the season, apparently to dispel rumors that the pair, who were roommates in the show-sponsored mansion where the finalists reside, were feuding. Lambert reportedly later removed the paint from one of his thumbs in his own gesture of support.

The friendship between the two finalists suggests that tolerance can trump ideology, a powerful sentiment that echoes President Obama's suggestion that bridging differences could be more effective than trying to eradicate them.

I didn't know about the painted thumbnails thing ... I find it quite touching. It certainly is the sort of thing that one wants to be emblematic of "tolerance trumping ideology". But it is nothing to hang your hat on. Being nice, being nice and touching, only goes so far. Gay people know all about that.

So the wave of support for gay marriage in recent weeks and months has softened even the hard edges of a skeptic such as myself. There is a cascade of growing understanding that the arguments of the bigots make no sense, that there is no good reason why people should not marry whomever they choose, that the religious right has lied itself into a frenzy. It is not that people are suddenly righteous gay libbers ... it is, rather, a more American phenomenon, to whit that people figure they should stay out of other people's business and let them do what they want.

I still hold out hope that the California Supreme Court, by that original 4-3 majority, will understand that tossing out Prop 8 will spare the state from two more years of religious invective. The way it would work is that the right wingers would have to get 2/3 majorities in both legislative houses ... just like in Massachusetts. And the result would be the same as in Massachusetts, that the whole matter would rapidly become a non-issue.

Did the Supremes watch American Idol? Did they pay any attention to Iowa? Do they think that tolerance should trump ideology? Or are they thinking career? Are they thinking that the wingnut maniacs will never forgive them for voting for us? This, again and once again, points out the degree to which the bloody rump on the 'publicans is still driving the debate in America, still in the intellectual drivers seat, notwithstanding the now openly derided idiocy of their stance.

So here we are in this state of the gay waiting on a bunch of potential vacillators to see if we spend two more years, maybe four more years, proving that we are fundamentally human. I have been gay all my life, but the gnawing feeling of being publicly declared as less than human, it never gets less acute.

I think we are going to win tomorrow ... I was right about Kris, and I'm going to be right about this. If I am not right, then I am gonna be royally pissed. I think hundreds of millions will be royally pissed.

Civil rights is what it has always been about. But that is not all that is at stake in the current decline and fall of California. I could not summarize better the parlous state in which we find ourselves than did Paul Krugman yesterday in the New York Times. It's not state of the gay for him, it's State of Paralysis. And the entire crushing problem in what would be one of the richest countries in the world is the result of the deliberate strategy of the 'publicans to destroy the ability of government to govern. It is nihilism, just as their strategy against gay marriage is nihilism.

Nihilism ... it used to be groovy when we were hippies reading Dostoyevsky ... kills. And that is what the State of Paralysis plans to do as it threatens the Aids Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Now, they plan to kill funds for children's healthcare as well, so we can't say they favor the cute babies over the fags. But what is a government that lets its people die for want of charity? Is that what Jesus would do?

Here is s case where it is pretty difficult to argue that tolerance is trumping ideology. The wingnuts would have a hard time to argue that if Jesus rather than the terminator had chased Gray Davis out of office, he would be in favor of killing babies and fags. But the scorched earth policy of denying everything leads precisely to that ... hatred, death.

I am aall for the painted thumbnails mode of expressing solidarity. But it is not going to save us. We need a bold Supreme Court, and we need a real government.

If you want to protest the possible end of the ADAP program, sign the petition at the SF AIDS Foundation.

Photos by Arod. Top two are from the tube; third photo is of Castro and market Streets, and the bottom photo is a detail from the mural on the Franklin Street side of the War Memorial Opera House.

Those of my good friends who still soldier through these ramblings may note that I did not meet my self-imposed Sunday deadline for a new post. So here is a codicil to my thrice weekly writing commitment ... on long weekends, I get until Monday to do the Sunday post.

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