Attention Surplus Disorder
I'm a supporter of marriage equality, in that I strongly believe that same-sex couples should be granted the same legal rights and privileges that heterosexual couples have. With the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and California's ban on same-sex marriage, as well as federal judges overturning bans in conservative states like Utah and Virginia, it would seem that this goal is inevitable in the United States.

With that battle nearly won, gay rights activists have turned their attention to fostering acceptance of gay marriage as a normal part of life. At this task however, they're failing miserably. One of the most common arguments for the legalization of gay marriage is that what couples do in their bedrooms doesn't affect anyone else. Try turning on the TV or reading a newspaper though, and it looks more like what they do in their bedrooms is EVERYONE'S business.

I realize that "coming out" is a big deal. If you've ever held on to a potentially damaging secret for a long time and then finally let it out one day, you can relate. What we can't relate to is getting standing ovations during press conferences when we bare our souls. How is that normal?

In the media, depictions of gay marriage are usually on some kind of pedestal, as though it's superior to heterosexual marriage. A perfect example was the wedding ceremony last month at the Grammy Awards. Yeah, there were a few opposite-sex couples involved, but it was advertised and promoted as a gay marriage ceremony. This kind of publicity stunt is supposed to be viewed as normal for marriage?

Sure, I guess you could say that all of the attention is just a reaction to the fact that same-sex relationships have been taboo for so long in our society, but there's such a thing as going too far. The attention focused on gay marriage in the attempt to promote it HAS gone too far. I get that these couples want to have pride in their relationships, which is more than appropriate. But taking your private lifestyle and placing it front and center in the public eye does nothing to end discrimination or foster acceptance. To be honest, it just pisses people off. And then those pissed-off people get referred to as homophobic, and the wrath of the internet social justice brigade gets brought down on them.

In an episode of the TV series White Collar, one of the female characters mentions that she just got engaged to her girlfriend. There were a few smiles and "Congratulations!" and then everyone got back to whatever they were doing. It wasn't some sort of huge super-special event. Just the happiness of two people who love each other expressing their love, and sharing their happiness with their friends. Now THAT is normal. And in this case, there's nothing wrong with normal at all.
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Great article, Sekani. I was just having this conversation last night during dinner with some friends. We'll know we've "made it" to that point when a celebrity comes out of the closet and everyone thinks "And we care because...?" I think Hollywood puts things in the spotlight because that's the only way they know how to handle things. All the award shows also demonstrate that they love to give themselves pats on the backs, so there's also that.

However, I would like to point out that Hollywood was not always pro-LGBT, so they can't pretend to have a history of always being on the "right side" of social reform as some actors/actresses have claimed. Actress Laura Dern said she was snubbed by the entertainment industry for almost a year for her part in Ellen Degeneres' "coming out" episode of her self-titled sitcom back in 1997 (http://www.today.com/id/18279014#.UwDoVEJdW9Y), and that she was terrified of going for a year with no work. She's probably not the only one to experience that, either. Sure, that was a little less than 20 years ago, but chunks of Hollywood act like they've collectively been leading the charge for decades. And that's exactly what they're doing: acting. Do we honestly expect anything less of them?

Another example of a more tasteful, normal portrayal to go along with yours is a recent episode of the Disney sitcom "Good Luck, Charlie," where the friend of the show's namesake character has two moms (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obvrJdmMI2E&t=3m29s for the episode, set to the start time of the scene). They've been lauded for the way they handled it as well as Disney's first on-air lesbian couple. I can't help but feel the internet media has made it more of a big deal than the episode was worth, though. The parents are the target of humor in this and later scenes because it's their first lesbian couple to meet. They're accepting, but don't know how to exactly handle it (the father ponders which one he should take to his man cave to watch the game). In the end, though, I think it was still done decently enough for what one would expect out of a Disney sitcom, so no complaints here.

I have to say I agree with Emperor on one part of this overall debate. I'm 100% behind not telling religious organizations they HAVE to marry non-heterosexual couples. The rationale behind it is the gay people I have met would not want to be a part of any religion that only accepted them because they were compelled to do so by their government, so why force it?

Always great to hear your opinion on things, Sekani.

-BMA