Thursday, October 27, 2005

Time Delivers!

I don't normally read Time magazine because, well, why bother? But it's around at my work so I tend to skim through it on my downtime. I've been rather shocked--shocked!--at what I've seen over the last four issues.

What on earth could possibly have come over them? Four cover stories in a row I've read where they've actually taken extremely progressive stances, not necessarily in the most straightforward way, but quite specific nonetheless. This post will cover the first of the stories.

In The Battle Over Gay Teens, Time offers up an extraordinarily balanced view of what's going on with gay teens in America these days: how they're coming out earlier, how they're less scared to come out, how the Internet gives them a home no matter where they happen to live, how being anti-gay is beginning to be seen as uncool among the young, how 57% of teens favor gay marriage (compared to 36% of Americans overall). Of course, they also have the requisite right-wing primitives who decry the end of civilization as we know it, but for the most part the article is quite specific in humanizing its subjects -- and the undercurrent clearly communicates the notion that gays should be free to do whatever they want in a free society.

In short, if you read between the lines, Time is announcing to the country that the battle is over, that within a generation or so gays will be fully integrated into the culture.

I suppose I ought to add in my own two cents about just why I find this story so refreshing. It requires addressing what I call "liberal bias," which I've referred to elsewhere in the context of Hip Hop music. In reference to homosexuality, the standard liberal stance contains a paradox: most liberals will try to convince themselves that there's no difference between gays and straights while simultaneously praying that their own sons and daughters don't end up being gay (because "life as a homosexual is difficult," or some similar argument).

By contrast, the Time article cites a number of studies showing that almost ninety percent of gays would NOT choose to be straight even if they had the choice. In other words, there's obviously something specifically rewarding about being gay, such that a majority of gay people are apparently grateful for their orientation (I encourage comments from gay readers on this point).

This reminds me of a controversy covered by Atlantic Monthly some years back about a new procedure intended to give hearing to deaf people. The controversy centered around the fact that many deaf people (especially the "elite" of deaf people, deaf children of deaf parents) resented the notion that they were somehow "incomplete" without their hearing. Deaf people have their own language (American Sign Language is not simply a signed version of English) and culture; to be deaf is to be part of a whole community. Giving the deaf children of deaf parents hearing, the argument went, risked alienating them from their parents and culture.

I don't know what percentage of deaf people wish they could hear, but it's not safe to assume that all deaf people do, or even that they necessarily suffer the way you or I probably imagine we would suffer if we suddenly lost our hearing. Similarly, if it's wrong to assume that most gay people would jump at the chance to be straight, why should any parent care one way or the other if their child is anything other than happy?

I don't follow any particular religious path but my spirituality is very clear on the notion that God doesn't make mistakes, that everyone is here for a reason. If that's the case, then gay people are absolutely equivalent to straight people (not identical, equivalent), and it literally does not matter whether your children are gay or straight. The pseudo-Christian Right is forever lamenting the "normalizing" of homosexuality in our society, but their infernal battle is already lost. Raise the consiousness of the young and the "battle over gay marriage" will seem quaint in ten or twenty years.

Up next: Time delivers again, and again, and again!

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