By Charles Karel Bouley II
Originally published on Advocate.com February 22 2005 1:00 AM ET
We’ve heard about it for years. Many have tried to define it, including 22 organizations that released a combined statement in January 2005 to outlets such as Advocate.com. It’s the Gay Agenda, and while many pontificate about it, condemn it, or allegedly try and further it, I as a gay man have yet to figure out what it is.Actually, let me flat-out say it: There is no gay agenda. I hate to break it to all those antigay organizations out there that have made such a myth the bedrock of their bigotry campaigns, but really, it just doesn’t exist.Those who think it does are giving gays and lesbians too much credit. For there to be a gay agenda, there would have to be immense unity among us, since we would have to agree across the globe on said agenda. It might even have to be put up for a vote. Only then could it be disseminated to community leaders as well as the millions of gays and lesbians scattered across the world.Frankly, that does not, will not, and cannot happen.Gays and lesbian are a diverse community, composed of many voices with many ideas on how to achieve goals. We don’t all agree on any issue, be it same-sex marriage or the usefulness of pride festivals. We’re not all of the same political ideology (yes, for some reason, there are still gay Republicans—but then again, the world is filled with oxymorons), and many of us still keep our sexuality private or hidden. No, there is no consensus among us, let alone an agenda.Yet bigots on all sides attack this “gay agenda” every chance they get. Just two weeks ago, in a small community outside of the very liberal city of Santa Cruz, Calif., it was debated, screamed about, and politicized in the name of “the children.” Seems that a few gay teachers, to promote diversity, put up posters in their classrooms that included same-sex couples, and a parent wanted them removed. Community forums followed, held in gymnasiums, ripe with the typically hateful religious rhetoric about how gays want to indoctrinate young minds, which was countered by the weaker calls for diversity and tolerance. Newspapers printed editorials. Radio shows debated (I did two; in one, a caller said that all of us gays should be put on a barge in the Pacific...but he didn’t want us hurt; how kind). Parents yelled.It was during one of these shows that something struck me: Why do we always have to talk about the gay agenda? How about talking about the antigay agenda? Because while it is debatable as to whether we have a firm plan, there can be no doubt about the existence of an organized, crystal-clear antigay one.Indeed, let’s dispel a few myths propagated by our opponents: They are quick to say “You can be who you want, just don’t force it on us” or “We don’t hate you--we simply wish that you keep your lifestyle away from our children,” plus plenty of other venomous remarks masquerading as tolerance. The fact is that they don’t only want gays and lesbians to shut up--they want us gone. Most would fire up the ovens if they thought they could get away with it, doing away once and for all with the blight of gays and lesbians--let the fires of hell claim those evildoers now instead of at death.When the president of the United States talks about the “protection” of marriage, what he’s really talking about is equivalent to a big federal NO stamp placed on the foreheads of each gay and lesbian American. It’s not about marriage--it’s about the need to smack us back down because we’re getting too uppity. When school boards get upset at posters about tolerance or over gay-straight alliances, it has nothing to do with parental choice concerning what their children are taught in school--it’s about their denial that any of their kids could be gay. They don’t want their kids to know about gays, because they wish we didn’t exist. Period. End of story.The antigay agenda is theocratic, rooted in the turn-or-burn teachings of an antiquated book of fables from 2,000 years ago. We are the subjects of the last bastion of sanctioned bashing--the one group, all those outside of it can agree, it is all right to oppose--because, of course, it’s not humans but God who said homosexuality is wrong, and He can’t be questioned.So while the gay agenda might not be clearly defined, there can be no doubt what the antigay agenda is: removal of all things from society that in any way, shape, or form say being gay is acceptable.But back to our so-called agenda: Why does no one seem to notice that it’s mentioned only when someone or some entity is trying to oppress us? Gays and lesbians have far more to do with our lives than go around each day trying to promote some ethnocentric ideology.Last week my agenda was getting over the loss of my friend of 14 years, Owen Chou Lee, the best damned chow chow to ever put four paws on the ground. It was to try to get more employment in my industry, to keep up with property taxes, to get a manager and an agent so I can move forward. It was about loving my remaining pets and trying to explain to them where Owen was; and hugging my friends and extended family, who came to my side during yet another loss.It was about deciding whether to go to the doctor for this damned flu I’ve caught so I could have my voice back in time for my radio show. It was about life, my life. Converting school kids into homos or indoctrinating unsuspecting and susceptible young nubile adolescents just didn’t fit into my schedule at all.But when pressed on-air, I managed to come up with a set of goals I’d like to see gays and lesbians achieve. Federal domestic partnerships with all the benefits of marriage would be nice. (Please, don’t give me the separate-is-not-equal argument about marriage.) Protection from getting fired would be good. For that matter, so would not having to worry about getting kicked out of the house. Allowing gay youths a safe haven at school through the teaching of diversity would be fun. Creating an environment where all gays and lesbians young or old could live openly, without the fear of political, social, or physical repercussions, would be a nice startBasically, we want the same benefits, rights, and protections as other Americans.So there is in fact a gay agenda--however, it’s called by the wrong name. The agenda isn’t gay, it’s American. What all those opposing us don’t understand is that we have the same agenda that everyone in this nation has: to be free while living here. Free to be who and what we are; to have our unions sanctioned with the same benefits; to not fear death or expect to be an outcast at home, work, and school for simply being different.Gays and lesbians want freedom, particularly from religious oppression. We want what our founding fathers wanted--a place where all are indeed created equal, endowed with the same inalienable rights, and treated as such.There is no gay agenda--this is so clear, and it’s the stance we must take. But there is an American agenda, a promise made by the founders that we are still striving to fulfill. Gays and lesbians have merely started to pursue the freedoms and exercise the rights granted in that document that the president wants to amend. How we get and pursue those rights and freedoms remains up for debate, and while there is not real unity in the gay community, there is one thing that ties us in the United States together: We are Americans first. It’s time to remind the Right that our agenda is not based on sexual orientation but on a political and social promise, set forth by a group of insightful men a couple hundred years ago.Our American agenda doesn’t need a sexuality. It has a foundation, the very one on which this country was established. I stand not on the fact that I sleep with other men, but on the fact that our founders recognized we were a nation of misfits, all of us outcasts, who suddenly had to get along within our nation’s borders. They gave us a road map for that--us, we the people. Gays and lesbians are part of that we, whether anyone likes it or not.So the next time someone asks what the gay agenda is, tell them you’ll forward it to them immediately, then promptly send them a copy of the Constitution. It’s ours as well as theirs; moreover, it was set up more for us than for them. After all, it was meant to give a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. To call out a religious monarchy (or a theocratic administration thinly disguised as Republican). To give a voice to those who previously went unheard. This voice belongs to us, gays and lesbians, because it is our document too.We don’t need 22 gay organizations to sit down and come up with talking points labeled an “agenda”; instead, we should remember that the Continental Congress has already done so for us. Not one thing we are fighting for has to do with our sexuality. NOT ONE THING. Every single thing we want is promised to everyone else in this great melting pot. It all can be summed up nicely by the very pledge schoolchildren make each and every day: liberty and justice for all.What part of all do those on the other side not understand? An antigay agenda is un-American, and when we start making that argument, we’ll win more battles than we’ll lose.