Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Trade in that Dirty mind for an Open Mind - Part 3

I was twenty when I met a gay couple, the first I had met who were openly gay. At first I was curious about their lives; as I got to know them better I began to enjoy their company. They were the most 'normal' couple I had met in three years. Conventional in their relationship, with rather strict roles, they seemed more settled and closer to a loving family than any of the hippie types who I had been associating with. Other than meeting gay or lesbians as I traveled across the USA, I had little contact with the 'alternative' lifestyle community for many years.

In 1991 I went to work at a summer stock theater. Most of the staff were gay as were the numerous actors in the show the theater was producing; 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'. What a time that was! Each night the festivities began after the show, and often included an impromptu disco, fabulous food, lots of dressing up (for everyone) and loving time spent watching the autumn aurora borealis on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I spent three years working at the theater from beginning of May until mid October; each year brought me new friends, new fun and a fresh way to see life. In those three years, I was never looked at as being an outsider even though I was married, in a heterosexual union.
In my second year at the theater, some of the actors did not return to play in the various productions. I began to hear about their deaths from AIDS and at that time, I felt the loss of each of their lights from this planet.
Over the years I have remained friends with all of the people I met at the theater.
Some have moved on to other things; theater management, movies, producing, television. Almost all travel for their work and so I see them less than I would like to, however we still communicate and visit as often as possible.
As an artist and writer I have added many other GLBT friends along the way. Each one has become a beacon for me to measure the values and morals of a true equal society. I am not speaking about a hypocritical closed society, but a society that values the skill, talent and commitment of each individual.
Not one day has not passed when I worry about my friends and how our society has marginalized them, demonized them, demoralized them and eradicated the equal rights that every citizen is entitled to based on the constitution of the United States.

Heterosexual people often do not socialize with other people who are not like them. Actually, most people tend to stay within the realm of their own personal comfort, economic status, professional status and sadly, religion.
The past five and a half years has seen more damage done to the constitutional rights of the citizens of the United States than has been seen since before the civil war.
It is my observation that every society needs a scapegoat. The USA has begun to use GLBT people as the new scapegoat. Gender and Race are now legislated by laws granting specific rights to women and people of color. Until legislation is created and implemented in every state of the union, and in federal courts, I believe that GLBT people will continue to be the new scapegoats for America.

I must ask: why would sexual orientation eliminate an entire class of people from the same protections and rights as every other citizen? When our federal and state governments do not recognize EACH AND EVERY person in this country as having equal rights, are we not saying that a the denied group is not a citizen, is not entitled to equality?
It is consensus that this attitude springs from religious zealotry. I do not know if this is the case; it seems to me that one can have faith in their god of choice, yet not marginalize others for their lifestyle. The historic Jesus never spoke of discrimination against anyone. It seems to me that it would be a just thing if each person who practices discrimination, hatred or inequality against any person for any reason should be judged based on their own actions.

I can see why some people would feel discomfort outside of what they call their comfort zone. Some people are homophobic because they are not sure of their own sexuality or they may even fear it. Others may feel as they do because they have no connection to it, never having known a 'respectable' alternative lifestyle person. Still others feel moral outrage at something they have been told is wrong.
Whatever the reason, it is the obligation of every thinking, reasoning person to do whatever is within their power to educate those who are open enough to listen.
And for those who are too narrow minded to accept, much less care about GLBT persons, there is another tolerant human. Those of us who are self actualized and accepting of all are duty bound to lift our voices with the hopes that we are louder, we are more spiritual, we are more responsible for setting right what has gone horribly wrong.

Who are you to discriminate?
Are you better?
Are you brighter?
Are your teeth any whiter?
Ah, so you say
your sword is mightier.
Pull down your hood,
we who are free
chose not to see your face.

Let me ask:
Were YOU born a native of this land?
there are no natives
of this land.
We all had to come from somewhere
And we all came from the same
we all came
out of Africa.
Does that disturb you?

Why do you believe
that what others chose
undermines your choices?
How is your marriage
threatened by a
marriage of
he and he
she and she?

How is your life threatened by
the color of a person's skin?
The name by which they call
on god?
The place where they were born?
The food they eat?

Who are you to discriminate?
What gives you the right
to sit in judgment
of others?

Who are you to deny
of the same rights
which you feel
are yours
by virtue of
your conditioning?

Who are you to judge
how free someone is?
To control their
reproductive freedom?

Who are you to discriminate?

Where do you draw your 'power' to
You say: The Bible.
I say,
read it again -
Jesus never said
Hate your brother, hold back
your sister, keep food from
the people, keep money in
the temple, be strong - seek
You say: the Qur'an.
I say,
read it again -
Mohammed never said:
kill children and
of those who do not
believe in me.
You say: the Talmud.
I say,
read it again -
the commandments are
mind your own life,
and I will mind mine.

Who are you to discriminate?
Are you the hypocrite?
Are you god?
You answer "no".
I say live -
live again
and give others
the right to do
the same.

Poem, © L. Jody Kuchar, 2006

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