Sunday, 8 September 2013
Gay is the New Black
You know, just the other day, I was listening to music on my computer. I've got myself a big old set of hearphones, and I was listening to my full playlist on randomize when my playlist came across a song called Settle for Nothing by Rage Against the Machine. I'd never heard it before (and wasn't game to start since I'm not fond of "Rage Against") but I had to stop and play it again; not because it was a good song, but because the first 4-8 chords reminded me of a better song.
It was a tune caught in my memory, but all I had was a bup-bah, bup-bah, ba-dup ba-dah tune, and a memory of a woman's voice. The woman's voice in my head reminded me of the singer from another song, the one with the lyric
"It breaks my Huh ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-art", so after some googling, I realized that that lyric was from the song Fidelity by Regina Spector. It's a nice song, but unfortunately it wasn't the song I was looking for; I'd hit a dead end.
However, I then remembered that I'd heard the tune on the radio recently, meaning it was a recent hit. Since I'd also become a fan of Macklemore recently and he often has a guest singer do the chorus (perhaps explaining the female voice), I decided to look him up on Youtube and the first song he'd done that caught my eye was Same Love by Macklemore (featuring Mary Lambert).
I'd heard the song on the radio, but I'd never really listened to the song because I'd heard it was a Gay Anthem. The only other such song I'd heard was "Born This Way", a song which I hate in no small part due to the fact that I hate Lady Gaga and her attention-seeking bullshit. However, since that Rage Against the Machine song had stuck the tune in my head, I decided to give it a proper listen.
Having done just that, I have this to say: It's a beautiful, poignant song and I recommend you give it a listen before you continue reading the rest of this post. Yes, today I'm talking about that. The Word of the Day is: 'HOMOSEXUALITY'
Homosexuality /hōmōsekshū'alətee/ n. Romantic feelings or sexual attraction for a person of the same sex as oneself.
This is one of many examples of me being "haunted" by words. It's not a negative thing, mind you, but every now and then I'll see a particular word or concept following me everywhere. This is something known as "apophenia", the recognition of meaning or patterns in random and meaningless data.
Whether it's meaningless or not, last time it was "Neil Gaiman", but lately I've been encountering homosexuality a lot. Be it songs that get stuck in my head, revelations about the sexuality of good friends or even the latest Prime Minister's view on marriage equality, I can't escape it.
So, rather than fight this system, I've decided to embrace it. It's obvious that someone wants me to talk about homosexuality, so here we go.
I am a straight (mostly) cisgendered, Australian man. So I guess I'm "normal" in the sense of being in the standard, run-of-the-mill, "oh, I assumed as much" way (not the "opposite of strange", natural & better-than-you way).
Yet, I'm also pro-LGBTQI, leading to another one of those odd situations where I'm "fighting an uphill battle from the top of the hill", like my views on Feminism. I reckon it's always been part of the Australian point of view, always rooting for the underdog and I very much approve of and advocate the rights for the minority sexualities.
Therefore, I'm confused with a lack of consensus on the issue of homosexuality, particularly "marriage equality".
This is a truly baffling situation for me, because often I try to see a situation from both sides to try to understand which side to choose in any opinion or debate. But the problem is that, as much as people can argue logically on many fronts, I can't really see the homophobic viewpoint eye-to-eye because it's not one based on a foundation logic, it's one based on a foundation of emotion.
When I was young I used to understand it, because I always heard that highly prejudiced viewpoint of:
"Eww! Gay people are different from me!" but that all changed when I was about thirteen.
I can remember the moment vividly, but unfortunately, there's no great story here. I wasn't defending anyone's rights or involved in a cool story for this anecdote, rather I was just going for a walk. As I do on my walks, I let my mind wander and I came upon the issue of homosexuality.
I hadn't really decided either way (and it wasn't as pressing an issue for me at the time), but I was curious, so I simply asked myself the question:
"Is there anything wrong with being gay?"
All I could think of was that gay people were different from me. I rolled around the idea and looked at it from every angle and I hit upon my conclusion "No, it's not wrong, it's just different". It's surprising that I discovered in my early teens what many politicians haven't realized in their entire lifetime.
But then something struck me, and it made me stop in my tracks. See, at the time, I was undergoing the usual changes of a boy my age I had recently discovered the female of the species and so I'd also discovered Love and Romance. It occurred to me then how deeply it would cut me if someone said that I wasn't allowed to love. I felt indifferent about homosexuality, at best it seemed an interesting mindset but nothing to be concerned about. But then I realized that by hating homosexuals and their love and lifestyle, all you really do is "make people incredibly unhappy".
As an old-fashioned romantic myself, it made me sad to think about the idea of "stopping love". Hell, even if you ascribe to my own views that everyone is selfish, you'd realize that unhappy people are also unproductive people and that by forcing a system of homophobia and discrimination, you're not only harming a portion of society, but ultimately society as a whole. So that's my view on the matter:
"Making Gay people Happy doesn't affect how I live my life; but making Gay people Unhappy does & Everyone deserves the right to be Happy."
A lot of Marriage Equality advocates constantly ask that question:
"How does my relationship affect you?"
Inevitably, they receive a response about history, religion or obscenity. But I believe the real question they should be asking is:
"How does the oppression of my relationship benefit you?"
Because the truth is, even if you're a homophobe or a religious nut and believe that gay people, bisexuals, transsexuals and queer-folk are "wrong", you can't deny that taking away their rights and voice only leads to depression, suicide and a inevitably a poorer society.
Happy and healthy people are productive people - so what benefit is there in making any part of society unhappy, no matter how small?
Oh right, it makes you "feel icky" to think about "two men doing it". Sorry I didn't consider that obviously well-thought-out argument . . .
I don't really want to spend this post arguing for Marriage Equality, because it's kind of obvious to me - the only thing stopping marriage equality is religion, and as my brother puts it: "Religion should be Illegal".
I believe in equality for all sexualities. Actually, that's a lie, furries and rape fetishists can go fuck themselves (and, I assume, already do). No, what I'm talking about is acceptance of natural, consensual love.
I believe that people keep making the mistake of conflating homosexuality with obscenity. They think it's deviant or taboo, and never want to endorse "Gay Marriage" because it will affect "Straight Marriage", and diminish it.
But that's the thing, I don't agree with "gay marriage" either, which is why I don't use the term, it's insulting to both homosexuals and language. I want to share the marriage that already exists with those that love one another.
There are some people that agree that homosexuals deserve "a legal union with all the rights of marriage", but they don't want to call it "marriage".
But that's not Marriage Equality. To me, that is no different to racist insitutions that developed different water fountains for "coloured" people.
Seriously, back in America's pro-racism days, there were separate bathrooms and water fountains for Black and White people. This is the exact same mindset:
"Oh no, I agree that you should be allowed to drink water. I just don't want to have to share my water with someone like you."
"Oh no, you deserve the right to get "together". Just so long as I don't have to share marriage with someone like you."
So I really do believe it's true, Gay is the new Black. We're exactly the same, yet people insist that we're different and deserve different rights. People insist that one kind is better than the other. People insist that because it's a minority that it doesn't matter, that feelings don't matter and that some of us, because we're different, are broken and need fixing. My point is, there's nothing wrong with homosexuality, there's nothing obscene, unnatural or in any way harmful about it, and I still don't understand how this is an issue. I don't know how things are in America, but more than 65% of Australian voters believe in Marriage Equality, even though we have a lower percentage of people that identify as homosexual.
How is this still an issue?! Everyone wants it. so what is the problem?
The answer is simply emotion, prejudice and fear.
Okay, I've had lots of fun and rambling points here, but I suppose you're now asking:
What does this have to do with the Macklemore song?
I'm glad that I supposed you asked. See, I believe in that song's point: It is all the Same Love, there's no difference. The same passion, romance and emotions are in play, and most importantly, they can't change; even if they try, even if they wanted to.
But we can change how we treat people, how we feel, and the rights we give them.
It's all the same love, so why do so many of us keep showing the same hate? The same prejudice and oppression that we keep showing time and time again when someone is just a little different - even when they're not causing any harm - why do we keep it up?
I'm afraid there's no good answer to that question.
I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time I'm going speak out against Straight Marriage until we all learn what equality means . . .