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Hysterical Column in the Boston Globe

Gay Marriage was supposed to turn Massachusetts from the “Bay State” to the “Gay State”. We have a Governor, a Legislature, and a Supreme Court that support full equality for gay citizens. Powerful, openly gay people are visible throughout the government, business, and local media. Our schools are so tolerant that Kansas feels the need to bus in protesters. We are home to both P-Town AND Northampton.

So how can a columnist at a respected newspaper in the most liberal state in the country be so mindnumbingly ignorant? It isn’t that I think that Alex Beam hates gay people – I just wonder if he has ever met any.

beam.jpg…In what is obviously meant to be a tongue-in-cheek article, entitled “Gay people, give me back my stuff!”, Alex Beam frets that gay people are taking over the world. He can’t drive a Subaru, smoke his favorite cigarettes, or hang a painting of a groaning and naked St Sebastian on his wall without people thinking that he is gay! Oh HEAVENS!

Hell, they can have their Judy Garland and their ABBA and anything else weird that he didn’t want anyway, but none of the GOOD stuff. Its gettin’ to where the gays have so many equal rights you start to almost wish you WERE one, heh heh! Right? Right? Get it? Cuz all gay guys are rich and sophisticated! Heck, they even stole the WORD gay! It’s like this guy has been asleep for 30 years. Maybe next week we can hear about how the black people like to use the jive talk.

But things aren’t really so equal are they Alex? Not so equal that you would want to be mistaken for a gay man for even half a second, right? Not so equal that you feel safe even smoking the same cigarettes as a gay guy. If things were quite equal you wouldn’t have to live in fear of little kids calling your stuff “gay”, because “gay” wouldn’t be an epithet at all, now would it?

I understand that Mr. Beam is making a joke. Frankly, I don’t think it’s very funny. His “Ha! Fooled you, my friends” tacked on at the end doesn’t help much either.  Besides the implicit homophobia in his complex over being identified as gay and the perpetuation of the damaging “gays are rich and snooty” myth, it is clear that he does not get just how heterocentric society is. Look at books, movies, tv, and advertising. Compare the number of straight couples to the number of gay couples. In our consumer culture, you are straight until proven otherwise. Not only that, you are white, male, anglophone, and middle or upper class or you are “other”.  The more you deviate from the “norm” the less likely you are to see yourself represented.

Alex Beam needs to stop worrying about whether his dog is “too gay” (and in case it needs clarifying, whether his car is “too black” or his neighborhood is “too Jewish”) and start worrying about how I am supposed to find a gay lawnmower. I’m kidding.

Instead, we could recognize that we are a broad spectrum of overlapping identities. That should be a source of delight, understanding, and solidarity, not a reason to segregate and bakanize. Don’t fear what makes us different Alex, love what makes us the same.

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