Who deserves respect?
BY Charles Karel Bouley II
April 07 2005 12:00 AM ET
When my husband died, who waited a respectful amount of time before commenting? No one. The next day articles were written about AIDS, even though he didn’t die of it. The next day a radio commentator went on the air to comment on his death and talk about how the “gay lifestyle” can lead to such things. That morning in the emergency room the doctors and police called me his “friend.” Later lawyers stood up in court and called our relationship nothing, not giving me any legal standing (they lost that argument on appeal, by the way).A generation of young gay Americans died on Reagan’s watch, and it was OK because basically they deserved it for living the “lifestyle.” Millions of gays are openly shunned because the pope called them evil and because they don’t want to be celibate, and that’s all right. A reportedly devout gay man in San Diego couldn’t be eulogized in his beloved Catholic Church recently because church officials found out he owned gay bars. The family, at the last minute, had to move the body and find a new church. But that’s OK.Say something against the person that is partially responsible for those attitudes before he’s put in the ground, and that’s classless. Let the gay man inside of me out in his righteous indignation, and he gets slapped under the guise of propriety.I do not mourn the pope. He was a man. An old man with old ideas leading an archaic institution that acted like a crime ring with abusive priests, an institution that maintains opinions that lead to separation and pain. Yup, that’s the gay man talking. But as I get older, I can see now how wrong I was to assume my gay man wouldn’t come out. That’s what being out at its core is. It’s not just living an open life, it’s letting that gay man out to say what he feels in times of crisis, in times of world events. I may think “normal,” but I feel “gay.” At least at times. And I grow weary of worrying about how I feel, and how I seem to be the only one worried about it.Yes, I’m a gay man. And as much as I’ve tried to deny it, I’m a gay talk-show host. I don’t host a gay show, but there’s a gay guy doing it. And that brings new experiences to the table and new points of view. Ones even those claiming to be tolerant don’t seem to want to hear because they upset their idea of propriety.Was I wrong in my opinions? No. Was I wrong in the timing? Perhaps. But maybe the next time the Vatican wants to issue a statement condemning me, maybe the next time the president wants to go on TV to talk about how I don’t deserve equal rights, the Vatican and the White House will check with me or you to make sure nothing bad has happened in our lives that day. Maybe the Vatican and the White House won’t make hateful announcements on days someone is dying from AIDS, on days someone is in the hospital for being beaten or attacked for being gay, on days someone goes to their work locker and finds the word “fag” written on it only to have the bosses do nothing, on days when boys are tied to fence posts or dragged behind cars, on days when people have to go before judges or legislators to fight for the same rights everybody else has…But wait! If they had to wait for a day like that, they’d never be able spread their hatred. If the Vatican and the president had to wait for a day that some gay person didn’t suffer some terrible indignity, they’d never get to deliver their harmful speeches against us.So they don’t wait. They just go out and say what they want, having no idea what is happening that day to a gay person someplace because of bigotry or prejudice.So I didn’t wait either. And there’s the truth of it.Now, two wrongs don’t make a right. I was in fact disrespectful that day, those days, and there’s plenty of time for that. Next time I will let the dust settle. But when it settles, beware. The gay man inside of me won’t be quiet anymore.
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