Written in the wake of George Bush's second victory and a particularly bad-tempered spat between Christian Africans and gay men in the pages of Positive Nation...
They don't love us. Get over it
You know who won the election for George Bush? Gay people did. In particular, those gay couples queuing up to be married in San Francisco and Boston did.
While Kerry got out the liberal vote, Bush got out the evangelicals. And why did the godfearing classes queue up to vote? What was the end-of-civilisation-as-we-know-it bugaboo all the ones interviewed by CNN wanted to kill stone dead? Gay marriage.
There were ballots to ban gay marriage in 11 states - and they passed, resoundingly, in all of them. In some, even existing domestic partnership rights will now be taken away.
One of those ballots was in Ohio. Evangelicals who turned up specifically to vote down gay marriage, and cast their vote for Dubya as a side order, may have won that state for Bush.
Yet interestingly an exit poll – however flawed – found that the great US public was not against civil equality for gay people. Even 51 per cent of Bush supporters favoured some sort of legal recognition.
So I don’t think it was the appeal to fairness that worked against us. I think it was the demand that we have EXACTLY what heterosexuals have.
I’ve always been uneasy about the gay marriage thing. Yes, our partnerships should have legal recognition. But though I was outraged by Section 28’s spiteful characterization of them as ‘pretend’, I was suspicious of the demand for normality implied by the demand for marriage.
Why did we want this piece of church-sanctioned, white-frocked, ritual pair-bonding? I don’t want to be exactly like my brother-in-law (married, three boys). I want to be the cool gay uncle who turns up from foreign lands bearing gifts. I don’t want to be normal. I want to be gay.
The craving for mom-and-pop normality seems to me to be based in a huge craving to be loved. Because of this yearning, we mistook tolerance for a welcome mat into the heart of the Christian family. Well, the Christians took one look and slammed the door.
Most straights, at least in the UK, don’t like anti-gay violence. Look at the recent headlines over the murder of barman David Morley, and homophobic reggae singers.
But though the UK and even the US public don’t think we should discriminated against, it don’t mean they like what we do. Scratch the surface of even the most liberal straight and you’ll find unease (and fascination) about backroom sex and buggery and a general feeling that lesbian and gay lifestyles aren’t ‘normal’.
It’s quite useless getting sulphurously outraged about this bedrock stuff. An example has happened in the HIV press recently. Positive Nation published a letter from Pamela Mushore, an African evangelical – herself with HIV – in response to a courageous column by Rowland Jide Macaulay, an out gay African pastor.
The letter was standard ‘love the sinner but hate the sin’ stuff. Pamela said: “Having sex with the same sex is wrong in the eyes of the Lord, but we all have free will. I do not hate gays, we are all sinners that require God's mercy and Grace.”
Now when I’m in a militant mood I might fire back: “Well, I love the sin!”
But you’d think Pamela had called for the mass castration of gay men, judging by some of the outraged comments in the UK Coalition’s discussion forum ‘Positive Voices’. One reader commented that they hoped it hadn’t caused any readers to kill themselves. There were demands for the Editor's resignation (incidentally, I too would have published the letter when I was Editor).
Another treated protestations that Positive Nation was generally supportive of gay men with the comment “That's like saying that most of your journey home was safe: you only got mugged in one short bit of it.”
In other words an insight into exactly what some HIV positive Africans think (and which other HIV positive Africans, like the Reverend Macaulay, are actively combating) was taken in itself to be an assault on gay men.
It wasn’t. It was a revelation that a lot of people don’t regard us with approval. Which doesn’t mean they want us dead.
Gay people will always be in a minority. And for that reason, gay culture will always be a counter-culture. We make our own norms, we form our own alliances, we set our own trends. If you know that deep down, then Bible-bashers become irrelevant. They have their beliefs, we have ours, we agree to disagree and on some subjects, such as HIV, we can work together. At least in the UK...
Gay people should stop craving to be loved and reacting with hysteria when we’re not. They tolerate us. But they don’t love us. Get over it.