Everygay people

BY Bruce Vilanch

December 19 2005 12:00 AM ET

This may have
been the year that Mike Nichols was talking about when he
said, “Homosexuality used to be the love that dare
not speak its name; now it’s the love that
won’t shut up.” Although it sounds like a
put-down, this remark sticking in my memory actually was in
reference to the tidal wave of script submissions
involving gay themes that was lapping across his desk.
I think for a lot of straight people, Mike has
unintentionally hit a nerve. The world does seem to be
getting gayer by the year, if not the New York minute.

As more and more
of us come out—still the single most important thing
a gay person can do to change the world—the
divide between the gay-friendly general population and
the increasingly isolated and marginalized
fundamentalist right wing of American society becomes
sharper and uglier. But the scales are tipping heavily
in our direction. More straight people like us and
accept us than don’t, and the ones who don’t
are finding themselves in a leaking lifeboat circling
a sinking ship.

The rantings of
certain media pundits look increasingly out of step with
what most people really think, especially as the
administration in Washington that gave the right wing
its moral force loudly collapses under the weight of
its own corruption and hubris. Hey, the ultimate clue
to where we’re going can be seen every day on Ellen
DeGeneres’s show. She doesn’t have to
talk about being gay because everybody knows about it, to
the point where it’s used as a subtle joke by the
guests every now and again—the way it used to
be used by Ellen before she came out.

It’s a
brave new world, and I want to date some of the creatures in
it. I don’t suppose any gay people have to be
reminded of what flew into their satellite dishes this
year—three new networks devoted entirely to
programming for the suddenly discovered queer market. Some
fearful straight folks may take this as evidence that
the world is turning an ever deeper shade of lavender.
But here’s what’s wonderful about
television: It’s the great equalizer. People who use
the remote control for isometric exercise (and
that’s just about everybody, and certainly
every single male with power in his wrists) flip from
channel to channel and see women’s TV, black
TV, Spanish TV, men’s TV, kids’ TV, military
buffs’ TV, and now—gay TV. In the great
commercial scheme of things, we’re just another
niche.

Prolonged
exposure to this fact will ultimately neutralize that
worried straight perception that all you hear about
today is gay. The more ordinary our integration
becomes, the less that will happen. Yes, the right
wing uses us as panic fuel, but such efforts are becoming
less and less effective. Massachusetts has been
marrying gay couples for a little while
now—long enough even to witness a gay divorce, and
not the Astaire-Rogers kind—and the world
hasn’t ended. Massachusetts has not fallen into
the sea, the Salem witch trials have not reconvened, the
Boston Strangler has not gone gay. Matters of far more
weight to far more people have filled up the papers
and the courts. Life has gone on. We’re still
in a fight, that goes without saying, but the other side is
choking on its own mean-spiritedness. We are winning
year by year, just by being real people.

Tags: Commentary

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