Sunday, March 14, 2010

Restating the Obvious

A law has been passed in the District of Columbia, allowing partners of the same sex to be "married."

With the City of Washington ready to surpass even New York City as the epicenter of the gay lifestyle (wait, that would be the "gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender lifestyle" with other hyphenated additions pending), and the flight of the African-American community to the suburbs, taking with them religious leaders who have long been opposed to such acts against nature, this was only a matter of time. We are supposed to believe that allowing marriage to be available to all, even those who cannot abide by a criterion dating thousands of years and transcending world cultures, will actually strengthen the institution of marriage. It will expand the base for that institution, and reinforce the notion of "family values" throughout society. Besides, why should we be concerned with what others do? It's not going to make any difference in our own lives.

Is it?

In a sense, it already has.

Once I was at a party at a neighbor's house, a gay couple with a house full of mostly other gay couples. (It can happen.) I was talking to a kid who was playing by the garden pond in the back yard. A man came to pick him up. The way the kid responded made me ask, "So, is this your father?" The man and his companion looked at me with some surprise, and told me their son had never heard that word before. It was as if I should have presumed as much.

An article in Salon magazine was quoted in the above piece.

Nature is about continuation of the species -- in other words, children. Nature does not care about the emotional well-being of older people.

Under the old monogamous system, we didn't have the problem of apportioning Thanksgiving and Christmas among your mother and stepdad, your dad and his third wife, your mother-in-law and her boyfriend Hal, and your father-in-law and his boyfriend Chuck. Today, serial monogamy has stretched the extended family to the breaking point. A child can now grow up with eight or nine or 10 grandparents -- Gampa, Gammy, Goopa, Gumby, Papa, Poopsy, Goofy, Gaga and Chuck.

Maybe it's not just about me, or about you. Maybe it's about when someone like me meets someone like you on the street.

Or the subway.

I took the subway to Chinatown last Friday night. Going back on the Yellow Line toward the Pentagon, three young guys got on at the next stop. At least I think they were guys. All were displaying varying degrees of effeminate mannerisms. One of them was thin, lanky, rather obnoxious regardless of mannerisms, and carrying a purse. (No, not a shoulder bag. A ladies' purse, ok?) He sat down across with me, joking with the others, and looking at me. Sure, it was a bit of a challenge not to take too much notice of him. And he knew it, too. He had to know. He was looking at me, waiting for me to stare at him a little too long. Fortunately, he was just busy enough not to care.

But what if he hadn't been? What if he took some pleasure out of freaking out some obviously provincial-looking middle-aged white guy? Would I have addressed him as "sir" or "ma'am"? (How about "fellow earthling"?) Would he be offended that I didn't know in advance that he considers himself female? I'm hearing and reading about people like this all the time. They make the switch in their own heads before the surgery, and we're all supposed to just "know" this.

In the Philippines, they are called "ladyboys" -- guys who believe they are really female, and that being born male was some kind of mistake. Leaving aside how God couldn't possibly have made a mistake in creating any of us, including the choice of gender (and even if he did, who in the human race has the prerequisite experience to make that call?); leaving aside that whatever surgical procedures are done to switch from one to the other, the pelvic area for a woman is constructed quite differently from a man (about six to eight inches wider in an adult); leaving aside all that, the problem with these kinds of differences is that eventually we don't know how to act toward one another.

If someone is going to dress in a way that can only cause someone else not to be sure whether they are male of female, they have to accept the possibility that some of us will be mistaken. Ultimately, society may assume the burden of accepting that difference and coexisting with it. This undertaking exacts a price, for it requires a different set of rules, however slight. The intricacies of one's own subculture remain native to its inhabitants, but are not necessarily familiar ground to the mainstream, nor does the mainstream reap any benefit, nor can that mainstream be expected to find the same comfort with such norms as its natives. Our choices have consequences, even when it seems as though we have no choice. However it may happen, those who do the choosing cannot expect to have it both ways. You want to be different, all well and good, but don't expect the rest of us to get the memo every time you decide to issue a new one.

Think about it the next time you want to "celebrate our diversity." However differently we are created (by the Creator, not by ourselves), we all have to get along. To get along, we have to understand one another, and to understand one another, requires a common language. And you can't very well understand what you don't know, don't you think?

Or don't you?


Dymphna said...

Never take the Yellow line on a late night.

Anonymous said...

"All 18-yr old Constance McMillan wanted to do was bring her date to her senior prom next month."

Uhh really? That's all?

Scott W.

David L Alexander said...

I don't know about present practice, but at one time it was not uncommon for two or more gals who couldn't find dates to show for the prom and hang out together, perhaps with a bunch of guys in the same predicament. This was once known as "going stag" as opposed to the more desirable "going drag." Were there no attention called to this young ladies proclivities (made obvious by one of them dressing as a man), none of this would be an issue, and we'd all find something else to talk about.

In short, there is little to have stopped this young lady from "being herself" so much as being in everybody's face.