Guest Column

By Blake Kanewischer

Imagine a world without Hamlet, Othello, Julius Caesar, Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. Imagine a world without "I Wanna Come Over" or "Our Little Secret." Imagine a world without "O Captain! My Captain!" or Leaves of Grass. Imagine a world without a tennis player who has won 18 Grand Slam titles.

What you're imagining is a world without gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Imagine that Joan Baez, David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Boy George, Elton John, k.d. lang, Johnny Mathis and Pete Townsend never wrote their music. Just picture a world without the creations of Yves St. Laurent. Imagine that Plato, William Shakespeare, Sappho, Socrates and Walt Whitman never wrote their incredible works of literature. Conceive of a world without Martina Navratilova or Greg Louganis.

For the politically-astute among you, where would we be without Roberta Achtenburg, Barney Frank, Gerry Studds, or Canadians Svend Robinson and Real Menard? What would comedy be like without the biting wits of Ellen DeGeneres and Scott Thompson? Rev. Malcom Boyd and Rev. Mel White remind us that being gay and Christian is not an oxymoron. Marlon Brando and Madonna, among many others, have graced the silver screen.

These "abominations" are some of the most significant people of our time and the past. Yet, many ignorant homophobes want to deny them some of the most basic of human rights. It's illegal in several states for these people to enjoy sexual relations in the privacy of their own home. It's illegal in every jurisdiction in the world except Denmark for them to marry their lovers. They face uncountable barriers to adopting children. They can, in many jurisdictions, be refused employment or housing solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.

They're not asking for anything special, just the basic rights that all human beings have. People of color, people with disabilities, women, men, and of all religious persuasions enjoy these fundamental rights. To those who argue that they "chose" their lifestyle and therefore don't deserve protection, I would ask: Who among you would choose to be gay, lesbian or bisexual and face the blatant discrimination and challenges they do?

There are those who argue upon religious grounds. Jesus said "Love thy neighbour as thou would love thyself", not "Hate thy neighbour." They argue that it's an abomination before God. God approves of commitment and love, regardless of the form it takes.

To put it simply, by denying that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are people, you deny all that they've done. Stop buying Elton John's or k.d. lang's CDs. Stop reading Shakespeare or Whitman. Never attend an exhibition tennis match with Martina Navratilova. Never wear Yves St. Laurent's clothes or watch a Marlon Brando movie. Never turn on Ellen or Kids in the Hall.

Oh, and by the way, you never read this article.

Blake is an 18-year-old queer computer science student in his second year at Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. This column is based on his coming-out column in the college newspaper November 1994.
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