Op-ed: Wow, I'm a Real Person Now
BY Eric Poole
July 03 2013 6:00 AM ET
During the dark days of slavery (or, as it is now more commonly referred to, the Paula Deen Good Times Hour), black people were often considered three fifths of a human being. (This notion was later scientifically disproves by dividing the number of zeroes in Oprah Winfrey’s bank account by the number in the Ku Klux Klan’s.) Once America finally realized that black people were a full five fifths of a human being, it was, perhaps, only a matter of time before they came to the same conclusion about gay folk.
I just didn’t think it would be this soon.
Last Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage rights, which essentially granted us gay folk that extra two fifths. And I don’t know about you, but I was simply not prepared to deal with having an extra 40% of myself.
I’m a handful as it is — anal, workaholic, a tad materialistic, pushy in a politely passive-aggressive way — you know, kinda crazy around the edges. So another two fifths just seems like overkill.
Yet, much like when you have a genie wish granted or Jesus owes you a favor, I feel somehow obligated to make the most of this extra piece of personhood.
I just have no idea where to start.
For guidance, I looked to see what black people did with theirs. Generally speaking, they seem to have gone to college, redefined basketball, invented hip-hop, popularized junk in the trunk, and taken over running the free world.
That’s fairly impressive. Of course, that took 150 years or so. So maybe I don’t need to wow everyone with my two fifths right off the bat. Maybe I can just start small.
I’m thinking one fifth should go to self-esteem. I did, after all, spend the better part of a decade trying to pray the gay away. Then another decade trying to drink it away. (Of the two, I’d recommend the latter.) Having the kind of self-esteem that comes from being allowed to participate in the same rituals as straight Americans will definitely be a good use of this 20%. It could even result in some future accomplishments, like a gay hip-hop album (Straight Outta Castro) or a new version of basketball where gay guys drink cocktails and describe the outfits they would wear to play it.
The final fifth could go to the forgiveness — of the people who, at this moment, are mourning the loss of traditional marriage and fearing the devastation of the family unit. I may be forced to continue forgiving them for a while, since the evidence of social change doesn’t appear overnight. But what the heck, this is bonus personhood. I can afford it.
And eventually, they’ll see that, like with the suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement, when everyone thinks the sky is falling, it’s really just this amazing American land — filled with a rainbow of humanity that glistens with diversity — rising up to meet it.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think those are two fifths very well spent.
ERIC POOLE is author of Where's My Wand? One Boy's Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpeting.
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