It never fails that when I write a gay-themed column, I get a few e-mails from people telling me to shut up, already. Invariably, the letters argue that gay people deserve no compassion or "special consideration" because of the way they "choose to live." In order not to fully reveal their irrationality, such people usually veil their raw contempt of homosexuality behind some more superficially viable complaint.
My recent column about crystal meth addiction and gay men produced one such letter. "[I] hear that a bunch of stupid gay people are getting their freak on with this new drug, crystal meth. ... If they want to die that way, go for it," the reader wrote. "Don't trouble your readers regarding these freaky thrill seekers. Let them ... get high and fly and freak as you go, if they want. If they die, they die, and you will know why: They are just freaky!"
Of course, that same attitude could be taken toward people who smoke cigarettes, eat fast food or take up skydiving as a hobby. Oddly, the culture (outside Neal Boortz) is not so broadly disposed to treating these people uncompassionately. In fact, if Rush Limbaugh is any indication, even heterosexual drug addicts seem to receive more compassion. Rush's "ditto heads" insisted that the rest of us be compassionate and forgive his addiction to hillbilly heroin and the alleged criminal acts it caused him to commit. Never mind that this is exactly the opposite manner with which Limbaugh has historically treated addicts and criminals himself.
Then again, maybe Rush is queer.
Hey, it's not such an outrageous idea. We had a spectacular example last week of a notorious opponent of gay rights turning out to be gay. In a year that has outed the national head of the GOP, Ken Mehlman, it's getting so you can't tell the Republican assholes from the homosexuals.
The latest outing is of Spokane, Wash., Mayor Jim West. Having heard rumors, the local newspaper in Spokane, the Spokesman-Review, hired someone to seduce the Republican mayor in a chat room on gay.com by posing as an 18-year-old. Several men in their 20s have also come forward to claim that West offered them jobs in city government as enticement for sex. And two young men claim that West molested them in the 1970s, when they were both minors.
West claims his privacy has been invaded and that he's the object of a sexual witch hunt. In an e-mail to the local race-relations task force, he wondered if its members also act on behalf of "people who have an internal struggle with who they are sexually and are searching for a way to come out and are torn by a desire to be out and a fear of what happens if they are." He continued: "Do others who desire to be out but are having similar struggles now live in greater fear because of a brutal outing?"
Of course, just as Rush Limbaugh made no mention of his personal history of bashing drug abusers, West didn't mention his distinguished career as a gay-bashing politician. Earlier, as a member of the Washington Legislature, he helped advocate a bill, which failed, that would have "barred gay men and lesbians from working in schools, day care centers and some state agencies. It called for screening prospective employees for sexual orientation and firing employees whose homosexuality became known," according to the Spokesman-Review. He also opposed AIDS education and, incredibly, proposed a bill that would have criminalized sexual contact of any kind among teenagers. More recently, he opposed a new law that extends benefits to domestic partners of city employees.Bizarrely, the head of the Washington Log Cabin Republicans, a gay group, argued that West is not bound to a political orthodoxy because of his homosexuality. (In other words, there's no contradiction in blocking gay people's civil rights if you are gay.) But most people, on both sides of the political fence, were left breathless by the spectacle of such hypocrisy. Nobody rational purchases West's assumption of the martyr role. Yes, it's true he's been subjected to a painful public disclosure, but that follows his actively working to maintain the secondary status of gay people. Should an individual's "privacy" (in a chat room?) take precedence over the harm he's causing thousands of people?
Meanwhile, people who think homosexuality is a chosen identity were hit with some bad news last week, too. A Swedish study, based on reactions to a chemical derivative of testosterone, concluded that the brains of gay men respond to sexual stimulus more like heterosexual women than heterosexual men. It's another piece of evidence that homosexuality has a biological basis.
That is terrible news for those who, like my reader, apparently think homosexual "freakin'" is so hot that people choose a despised gay identity rather than becoming heterosexuals. It must make the pinheads of the religious right spin. If God - not evolution - created man, and if homosexuality is part of the biological makeup of, say, 10 percent of mankind, why does the Bible supposedly declare it a sin? Does God create sin?
The mind reels, anticipating the answer.
Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology.
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