[oasis] [columns]

Beverly Greene

January 1997

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

This article marks the one year anniversary of my writing for Oasis. I was thinking about what I've written about in the past, what I hope to write about in the future, and what I pray I'll never have to write about at all and I realized that a lot of things have happened in the past year. I think that through writing these articles, I've had to rethink a lot of my own feelings and opinions on certain things, and been forced to consider things that I had not ever even bothered to think about before. So, I decided that there was no better way to mark my the one year mark with Oasis than to look back on some of the issues I learned more about this past year through writing these articles.

The right of same sex marriages, of course became an important issue last year. As a matter of fact, my wife and I will celebrate our very first wedding anniversary on the 14th of this month. Even with the exciting news from Hawaii, I really don't think that the state of same sex marriages has changed much. A stay has been placed on granting any marriages and it could be another decade before it ever gets out of court and into the churches and justice of peace offices, so the fight is definitely not over. With the passing of the Defense of Marriage act, even if Hawaii does allow same sex couples to be married, those couples will only be able to live in Hawaii if they wish to be legally recognized and their spouses will still not be able to get their Social Security benefits in the event of their death.

Marriage seems to be a touchy subject in our community, even now. My wife and I are often accused of trying to emulate "straight traditions of female oppression". I have to say that I completely disagree with this and could go on and on telling you why. But I won't. Why? Because it doesn't matter. My opinions, or anyone else's for that matter about the evils of marriages that appear to be too "straight looking" is not the point. It all comes down to just one thing that will not change with anyone's opinion and that is equal rights. If men can vote, women have to be allowed to as well. If women can adopt children as single parents, men have to have that right as well. If straight couples can get married, gay and lesbian couples have to have the right to make that decision for themselves as well. It doesn't matter if you believe in marriage or ever hope to get married. You may not even want to, but it is still your responsibility to make sure that the ones of us in the lgbt community who do wish to be married have the legal right to do so. Marriage should be a personal choice, a choice as to who we will marry, at what age we will marry, and what gender that person will be.

Another legal battle being fought in courts all over the world is the battle over consenting age. In most places, the age of sexual consent is around 15 or 16, if they are having straight sex, that is. Where gay sex is not illegal or not prosecuted just for being something that has been condemned in another of their witch trials, the consenting age is around 18 and in some places, even higher. I don't even understand why it really matters. While I think that 16 is too young for anyone to be having sex, it is not fair to tell a 16 lesbian that she was raped because she was not old enough to give her consent to have sex with her 18 year old girlfriend when we have 18 year old boys fathering babies to 15 year old girls everyday. To me, it all boils down to the same issue as same sex marriages do...equal rights. If the consenting age is going to be set at a certain age, it has to be set at that age for sex with either gender. By making the consenting age higher for gay sex, they are again whispering under their breath that being gay is evil, wrong, and dirty and that is why you have to be an adult to do it.

Another issue that has been thrown into the spot light this year is hate crimes. Before, when we heard about hate crimes it has against someone of another race or another religion, but next to never another sexual orientation. Why is that? Because until recently, it was considered ok to beat up the town "fags" on Friday nights. It was more of past time than a hate crime, just as it used to be ok to lynch a few "niggers" on the weekend. It took many murders and brutal near death beatings before people started realizing that the gay and lesbian community was in fact being targeted for hate crimes and that it is in fact a hate crime.

While many people would beg to differ with me, I believe that gay and lesbian people are the only people it is still seen as politically correct to call names and general harass. We are the scapegoats of the 90's. Few people outside of our own community stand up for our rights, and we even have a significant part of our community who will not "waste" their time fighting for certain rights, such as same sex marriages. It has been made easy for people to blame the gay and lesbian community for society's woo's because no one has stood up who wasn't in the community and therefore easily dismissed. It is easy to say that gays and lesbians will be bad parents because we haven't been given a real chance at parenthood. It is easy to say that gay and lesbian couples will only add to the divorce rate and cause more legal battles over possessions and children because we have never been able to have legal marriages. We have done nothing to protect the rights of our citizens in the situations that straight people take their rights for granted.

Children born into homosexual families has been another hot spot. As I have said before, my wife and I are planning on having at least one child someday, so we have been paying close attention to both sides of this debate. Some people say that we shouldn't be allowed to have children because we only want to "breed more fags", others say that we will just be crappy parents because we are overly self-involved, and others say that we couldn't do any worse than the straight community has done. I have even been told by one poor soul that we shouldn't be allowed to get legally married because we can not have children together. I told her, "Ok. If that is your only qualification for marriage, you go pass a law that requires all people to be tested for fertility BEFORE they are allowed to get a marriage certificate. Oh yea, and you will also have to ask people if they want children, because if they don't, there is no reason for them to get married. That way, you know that only those people who can and will have children together will bother getting married." Now, stop and ask yourself this....how did this paragraph start off talking about what is best for the children and end up talking about what should determine who can be legally married? That is exactly my point. They don't have any real reason that gay and lesbian couples can't be good parents, so they have to return to other arguments against other gay and lesbian rights. If they are that concerned with family values', they wouldn't care if gay and lesbian couples had children as long as those children were well taken care of. If these people were really that concerned for the children in this world, they would spend a lot less time and money trying to hold back gay and lesbian couples from getting married, having children, and adopting children and put all of that energy into stopping child abuse, hunger, and homelessness. More children will be abused while you read this issue of Oasis than will be born into gay or lesbian couples in the next month. Those are the real threats to our children, and if they cared half as much as they say they do, they'd be doing something to stop other straight people from beating, murdering, molesting, belittling, or starving their children.

As much as I hate to say it, AIDS is still another common theme in both the gay and lesbian community and the straight community's idea of what our community really is. You would think that in the decade that has followed us being to understand what AIDS and HIV are and how it is transmitted that people would figure out that it is not a gay disease, yet just the other day I surfed onto a page (which, by the way, your tax money is paying for as it was hosted by a public college who I did complain to but told that they would do nothing about it) which boasted such sayings as "Thank God For AIDS!" and "God Hates Fags!" Was this a group of skin heads? Neo Nazis? No, they called themselves "Christians". The part of this page that brought tears to my eyes was not their hate or even their ignorance. It was not how they were distorting God's love and understanding. It was the idea that anyone could say "Thank God" for innocent new born children dying, for children having to live with something no one can explain to them, for our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, and lovers having to die such slow and painful deaths. How could anyone thank God for another human being's suffering and still call themselves a "Christian"? I did write them a letter which simply said, "I hope you know that gay men are not the group most at risk any more and lesbians have always been the least effected group. Your teenage daughters are and you are thanking God for them dying."

These are some of the issues that have touched my life over the past year and I hope that my articles about them have made you stop and think. I look forward to seeing the wondrous changes that will come to our community this year, and I dread the fact that many of the issues I have written about will still be looming over our heads. I pray that we all find a little more kindness in our world this year and that we all remember just one thing....

Hate hurts us all, but love and compassion can heal all wounds.

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