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It's good to be

It's good to be


The movie X-Men: The Last Stand is all about whether "abnormal" people should be cured. Great! Cure the crazy fundamentalists, the greedy mega-SUV drivers, the liars and cheats. But leave my gayness alone, thanks. It's who I am.

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.

OK, let's 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.

Redheads are 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 control.

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 value.

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.

But why?

The human 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 wrong.

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.

Yes, it's 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.

Because gayness 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 lives.

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.

I don't 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.

And I 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.

Freak. Mutant. 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 humanity's sake.

Humankind is 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.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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