It's good to be
X-Men: The Last Stand is a fine movie. As I sat
watching it at a midnight showing with my niece and
nephew, I thought had it all I could ask for in an
action movie: cute people, lots of things blowing up, hey,
even an openly gay actor as the supervillain.
While the movie
is weak on plot and dialogue, it does poise an
interesting question: Should we “cure” those
who are not “normal”?
In the movie, a
“cure” is found for the mutants. With this
magical elixir, one quick injection makes the mutants
“just like everybody else…human.”
The government says it’s a voluntary thing, and only
those mutants desiring the cure will receive it. Then,
of course, they weaponize it, attack mutants, and a
war between humans and nonhumans ensues.
As I sat
watching, I couldn’t help think of the editorial I
wrote several years ago called “We Like
Sheep” from my book You Can’t Say That!
In that editorial I asserted that I do not support the
“study” of homosexuality from a
standpoint of genetically figuring out why people are
gay. We don’t have a disease and don’t need a
cure. And since no one is doing research as to why
people are not gay, I think it’s far too
slippery a slope to risk.
As I heard the
gorgeous Halle Berry as Storm start a tirade--“Who
said we need to be cured?… Why do we need to be
fixed?… We’re not a mistake;
we’re fine the way we are”--I couldn’t
help but take a mental note that these would be the
same arguments heard should the “cause” of
gayness ever be found. Because if it ever was found to
be genetic, make no mistake, someone would come up
with a “fix.”
On the way home,
my 19-year-old nephew and I got into quite a row. You
see, he doesn’t really see a problem with finding out
the genetics of being gay; after all, he claims,
“it’s not normal in nature.”
Now, why did this
make me so angry, and why did it hurt me so? I mean,
both my niece and nephew are as gay-friendly as they come
and always have been. Not once have they made me or
their other uncle, the late Andrew Howard, feel
awkward at all. In fact, they live with me now at our family
home in Long Beach, Calif. And here was someone I completely
trusted to not be homophobic talking about how
research should move forward. When I asked him about
research into being straight, for instance, why is he
heterosexual, his reasoning against it was
“it’s normal, in nature, it’s
what is, and we mostly research the abnormal.”
That stung. It
still does. And it exemplifies why I feel so strongly that
we should not open the Pandora’s box of genetics
surrounding homosexuality. Here is a perfectly
well-adjusted guy, someone I know in my heart not only
loves me but would go to the mat for me at any point in
his life, has stood up for me in his school, has written
essays supporting pro-gay legislation, accompanied me
to Sacramento to testify for AB25 (the bill, which
subsequently passed, to allow same-sex partners to sue
for wrongful death) after Andrew died and I needed to sue
and didn’t have the right, and rejoiced when
the appellate court gave me that right.
He is one of the
joys of my life, a true member of a family forged from
love, not blood, and one of the most well-adjusted youths
I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. And yet,
he all but said gay people were mutants.
be clear, we are. It’s a fact. We are a biological
anomaly. Years ago, when I worked at KFI AM 640 Los
Angeles, Dr. Laura, our station mate, got in to
trouble for calling gays a biological error. I told
Laura then (yes, we speak) that her mistake was her choice
of words: She should have said biological anomaly.
Since we are less than 10% of the population in nature
(or pick a number, since it seems to be arbitrary, but
you get the point) we are, in fact, freaks.
But so are Brad
Pitt and Colin Farrell.
Think about it,
beautiful people are freaks. There aren’t hordes of
them. We idolize them. We worship their beauty and
spend billions trying to emulate it with surgeries and
beauty products. We all want to be more beautiful.
biological anomalies. There aren’t lots of them.
And yes, gays and
lesbians are, in fact, in that category. We do not
match a majority of other humans in nature when it comes to
our sexuality. Also, any species must procreate to
exist. Now, while most of us gay people can
procreate--and some do--if more of the population were
gay, birth rates would drop faster than Britney’s
baby from her clutches. In fact, it could be argued
that we are, in fact, nature’s population
But to hear it
from someone you love or to see it in a film, well, it
hits too close to home. And is misguided. There are far more
harmful things than homosexuality to study in order to
find the roots, just as in the film I’m sure
the world had bigger problems than mutants.
For instance, why
don’t we study what makes religious extremists so
extreme? What clicks in their brains, what overdevelops,
what chemical is released, what gene goes astray that
makes someone think it’s OK to judge someone
based on mythology?
People die in the
name of their faith every day in parts of the world;
wars are launched over it. It would appear if we could cure
fundamentalism and extremism, the world would be far better.
Forget gayness--cure devout, extreme Islam,
Christianity…insert religion here…and
the world would be so much better. Let’s have a new
spray--Christ B Gone or Morm-A-Way--to handle those pesky
zealots with bullhorns who show up everywhere--at
funerals for soldiers, at funerals for those with
AIDS, at gay pride festivals--spewing hate. A quick spray,
and whatever twisted gene they have is fixed and they put
down their sign and realize hate is not a family
How about we find
the gluttony gene, the part of our brain that tells us
it’s OK to be as fat as a cow, drive a car as big as
a house, consume more than we could possibly need and
produce almost nothing?
Or the greed
gene, the part of the brain that tells us it’s fine
to lie, cheat, or steal to get what we want out of
life. There’s no end to the ills we could fix
with a little research.
experience is just that, human. Being gay is part of being
human, plain and simple. Nature didn’t make a
mistake, and it’s not a condition to be cured,
just as if there really were mutants like Wolverine
(how sexy is that Hugh Jackman?) or Cyclops (ditto on the
sexy) or Storm (same) or Professor Xavier.
X-Men 3 isn’t just a movie, it’s a
warning. A warning that some things are better left to
nature. Cure cancer, not gayness or the fact that a
person can fly or walk through walls or read minds. Hell, we
emulate the likes of afterlife expert John Edwards; just
think if real psychics existed. Why cure that?
And to those like
my nephew who think we should study it, I know you may
think you mean well or are thinking scientifically, but
you’re not. You’re dealing with humans
here, not mistakes, but people. And you’re not
dealing with cancer or AIDS, not searching for the root of
some evil that does humanity harm: You’re
searching for the essence, for the soul of gays and
lesbians. Not only is that unethical, it’s just plain
In the film
X-Men 3 one of the mutants decides to take the
shot, to be cured. I wondered how many gay people,
particularly youths, would do the same should some
cure for homosexuality come about. And I wondered how
I would feel about that decision. It’s so personal.
I remember a gay
youth who contacted me--again, the editorial is in the
book. He wanted to be straight so badly. Had there been a
shot, he would have taken it. But now, years later,
he’s older, with a lover, living an out, proud
life and loving it. He loves who he is now, and he always
sends a note of thanks to me for helping him realize being
gay is fabulous, despite the rumors.
But if there had
been a cure in his younger days?
Yes, at times it
is rough being gay. There’s a great line in the play
Hairspray (which I just saw at the Pantages in
Hollywood and it was fabulous as usual!) that says,
“You’re going to face a whole lot of
ugly from a never-ending parade of stupid.” I
laughed, because that pretty much sums up most lives
of any gay or lesbian person, at least an out one.
Our entire lives
we’ve had to deal with everything from snide remarks
to physical harm, loss of job or home to loss of a
generation of friends while our government did
nothing. We’ve woken up, given kisses to our
dogs, turned on the plasma to CNN only to see another
senator telling the world how tarnished marriage would
be if we were able to join in, a representative of the
greatest country on the planet, the most free, most
wealthy, most influential society on the planet, and its
emissary is again bashing us unchallenged.
a whole lot of ugly from a nonstop parade of stupid, and
yes, it would be easier at times to be straight.
But it would be
easier at times to be Oprah--in fact, most times. It
would be easier at times to be anybody else in a different
position in life. The fact is, if you were that
person, you wouldn’t be you. If there were a
magic elixir, you wouldn’t be changing a gay person
to straight or a mutant to a human, you’d be
completely reinventing, reshaping, remaking that
person. They wouldn’t be who they were before--hell,
they should even have a new name.
is not about sex. It is, in fact, a natural, normal state
of being for the gay person and permeates every aspect of
one’s existence in some way or another; to
change it would be to make the person an entirely new
person. It’s sad that the low self-esteem of gay
people as a whole would, indeed, motivate some of them
to make this change if it ever were possible. I feel
nothing but pity for them, they’re missing so much,
not the least of which is the point.
And the point is,
we are who we are and that’s just fine. We have to
get society to a point that it judges who we are by
what we contribute, what we do, how we treat ourselves
and others. Where normal doesn’t matter any
more because everything and anything is normal and relative.
Where we respect each other enough to let us decide
for ourselves how to live our lives and then are
secure enough as a people to not prohibit, inhibit, or
discriminate against people doing just that, living their
I would not be in
the line to get any cure, if I were a mutant in
X-Men 3 or a gay talk-show host sitting at Park
Howard trying to concentrate while my new chow puppy
makes the other three older dogs crazy under the desk
at which I sit. Wait, that is me. And me is just fine.
need a treatment or a cure. I don’t need a fix. Oh,
I’m plenty broken like everybody else, but also
no more than anybody else. I no more need to be
straight or need to be another person than a black person
needs to be white. Oh, it might make things easier at times,
but life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s
supposed to be life, mine, yours, ours, the ones we
make and the ones we’re given.
Being gay is part
of my soul, part of anyone’s who is gay or lesbian.
And scientists, stay out of my soul. I don’t
need to know what makes us human; I’m just glad
we are. I don’t need to know what gene makes us
love, what brain function makes us care; I’m just
glad we can.
don’t care what in me makes me love men; I’m
just glad I do. Because I loved Andrew Howard once, so
much it still hurts. I would not have missed that for
the world. Because of that, I sat, the other night,
debating a brilliant 19-year-old and felt compelled to write
a column. I don’t need science to examine that
bond between us, I’m just blessed to feel it.
Anomaly. Minority. All of that comes from a majority
thinking, If most things are like this, like me, like us,
then, why is that like that or they like them?
Because they’re different. There, research
done. They’re different. Get beyond that, it’s
2006 for goodness’ sake.
And if research
must be done on this subject, how about scientists start
studying straight people, and why they’re so damn
curious about what makes me gay. Something must be
very, very wrong with your brain that you care so much
about who I sleep with, live with and love that you spend
millions of dollars a year trying to figure it out.
That’s an obsession, OCD, science for
science’s sake, because it’s certainly not for
served when you, scientists and others, realize that we are
in fact mankind and woman kind. Humans. That’s all we
have in common, is that we’re human. Everything
else is a crap shoot. There are almost 7 billion
people in the world and 7 billion different kinds of humans.
Study how we progress as one, not how we divide as many. Now
there’s a goal.
As in all X-Men
movies, the mutants win by realizing they must peacefully
coexist with humans. I wish humans could learn that too.
That we must peacefully coexist with each other, or
it’s just not going to work.