Sunday, May 13, 2012

America's gay problem

 AOG, Madrid

A few days ago, US President, Barack Obama, said that he had changed his mind about gay marriage. He said that he "supported" it. 

"At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married", he said in an interview on television.

At present, it is difficult to know what this conclusion actually means for gay couples wishing to marry. Will he support it enough that he will legalize it at a federal level, equating it to marriage between heterosexual couples? 

Will we have to wait until his next Administration for this to happen? Of course, it bears thinking that if he were to loose the election (unlikely but not impossible), his good wishes will remain just that: good wishes. Nothing more.

It is very interesting to note that this new civil rights movement, the movement for equality under the law for gay couples, is called anything but that. 

That it is attracting the same sort of hate from religious groups that black people had to face during the civil rights movement in the 60s (and before). 

That whereas it might be hard to identify the death of a black youth who committed suicide because he or she was black (though not impossible), we are increasingly seeing in the media how some young gay people are doing just that, because the society they live in does not give them the right to live in peace. 

Because everywhere they look, all they see is hate, insults, abuse. And still in the US we don't classify hate crimes as hate crimes when directed against gay people. Freedom of speech, many say. 

Because we see people who look far removed from sanity picketing the funerals of soldiers, claiming that "God hates fags".

Because a woman in Nebraska  stood up to publicly declare her graphic homophobic views during Lincoln's Anti-Discrimination Law hearings, saying things like "a huge percent of gay men in school grounds molest boys, partly because they don't have AIDS yet" and "Jesus was kissed by Judas, a homo, who tried to sabotage Jesus' kind ideas. Do you choose Jesus, a celibate, or Judas, a homo? You have to choose!".

I would not say that she has the freedom of speech to proclaim such hateful statements.

And I feel very unprotected by American law when people like her are allowed to spew forth such hate and ignorance. 

Of course, when I listened to what she was saying, I immediately realized that this lady was either, a) extremely ignorant and uneducated, or b) suffering from some sort of mental illness, which, in spite of everything, makes me feel sorry for her. 

However, I know too well that she is not alone. I know that many people in America feel like they can justify their blood-curling hatred of gay people because, according to them, it says so in their Bible. 

Just like their Bible was used as justification for discrimination of black people not too long ago. 

Ironically, all of these "studious" religious leaders, who say things like marriage is a sacrament, and that God dislikes homosexuals, seem to ignore the history of their own faith. 

A history that would tell them that the Christian church, among other things, didn't really have an official marriage rite until about the XI century, and that, believe it or not, did marry people of the same sex.

And it did so for a very long time. And married a lot of people. It was not a one-off. It was not a weird thing, or an abomination. 

It just was. 

So of course, when they say things like that,  you can't help but think, 'how dare you?'. 

How dare you ignore your own history and pretend that what I'm asking for is something your faith has always deplored, when it clearly is not the case?

How dare you invoke a text written by a primitive people with very little relevance in the XXI century to justify your hate?

How dare you speak of love for everyone, unless they are gay? 

Does this make sense to you? 

It doesn't make sense to me.

America has a problem with gay people, yes. But it also has a problem with hate. And a problem with religion. 

And the America we think (or like to think) the world admires, is just fiction and has been for a long time now. 

Why do I say this? I have a friend who is from Africa. He came to Spain a couple of years ago. 

He speaks English, some Spanish, and his native Bantu language. 

He is not gay and can read and write a little. And he is fascinated by the US and has been since he was a child he told me when we first met.

I spoke with him last night when I came across him on the street at 2AM. He makes a living by working for a Chinese mafia which runs a pirate CD & DVD operation. 

He was amazed by Obama's words and asked me to explain what exactly he meant.

"It means that he favors gay people getting married".

"What do you mean favors? Was the law going to be changed?"

At this point I had not realized yet what he was asking.

"No, the law is not going to change yet. We may have to wait until his second Administration for that to happen".

"But, he is going to change the law? Why? If he favors it, why is he going to forbid it?"

And then I realized that my friend's view of America belonged to another era.

I explained to him that gay marriage in America was illegal. To say he was surprised would be an understatement. 

"So Spain has more advanced laws than America?"

"Some laws, yes".

"So how can America be the most advanced country in the world if it forbids that?"

And I didn't know what to say.