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Paul

April 2000

As I walked through the doorway, my eyes were met with Technicolor screens displaying interlocking patterns of indigo, bright orange, and electric yellow. The scene was quite unusual. Men, some dressed more like women than men, danced on the top of platforms; the queens overlooked the dance floor, which had been raised about a foot above the surrounding walkway/ bar area. It was eighteen and over night at the biggest gay dance club in Philly; I was eighteen and overwhelmed. Making my way around the club, I was shocked by the sheer number of people. I clang to my ex, who had invited me on this wild escapade to a seemingly bizarre landscape of overly muscled, tanned and toned men, many with multiple body piercings. How I ever got my preppy, Gap-wearing, would-have-rather-been-studying-organic-chemistry self into that mess, I will never know.

At any rate, I survived. It was perhaps one of the strangest evenings of my life. I felt half observer at a circus and half anthropologist, but that's okay. I suppose the other thing about which I've been thinking is the Christian right and their influence in politics, especially marriage. As many of you may well know, Proposition 22 was recently passed in California. It (please correct me if I'm wrong) forbids the legal recognition of same-sex marriages and thus denies homosexual, committed partners the rights and benefits (personal, psychological, economical, etc.) of a heterosexual married couple. The reasons for my disturbance are as follows: Although the United States claims to recognize the separation of church and state, the government (and perhaps the people too) are way off track on this issue. The biggest argument against homosexual "marriage" is that it is immoral. But should morality matter? Should not two men or women joined in a committed, life-long partnership be granted the same economic and social rights as a man and a woman? Clearly, the only logical opposition for same sex marriage comes from a religious ground. Well, don't call it marriage, but at least give two committed homosexuals the same economic rights as two committed heterosexuals. Marriage in the US has become a screwed up mixture of church prerogative and state policy and has indirectly produced quite a conflict. In fact, many members of the Christian right now place homosexual marriage ahead of abortion as their top voting priority. (Whenever I hear this I think, "What about poverty? What about education? What about the disparity of economic distribution? What about the REAL PROBLEMS facing our country?")

So now I've rambled for 300 words or so and have probably been sufficiently vague as to confuse and perhaps even bore you. But I think that there are a lot of things about gay culture that are quite strange. I suppose that discrimination (we cant serve in the army either) gets better with each generation, and so our generation should be better than our parents just as theirs was better than their grandparents. But I find that change is too slow. Why shouldn't things be changing now? Why are so many smart Americans confusing policy of church and state? Why are my fellow teens and gay youths not worrying more about our future? And why, when things are changing, do we seem to be moving in the wrong direction?

My name is Paul and I'm 18. I live in Michigan, but I attend college in Pennsylvania, where I'm a freshman. I love getting e-mail; you can reach me at alec689@hotmail.com. These are my own reactions to feelings and experiences that I've been going through, so please be thoughtful (but thorough) in your criticism.


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