Freaking the Straights on Gay Marriage
St. Patrick's Day has come and gone, and with it the annual debate over whether open participation by marchers associated with the LGBT (sorry if I forgot an initial there) movement should be allowed to appear.
The epicenter of this year's conflict was Cincinnati, where the sponsors of the parade stood firm and refused to allow openly gay marchers to take part. This is evidently one of the few occasions in which the marchers were told flat-out that were not wanted due to sexual preference.
The uproar over the rejection was marked with the standard arguments: while the parade may be Irish and Catholic, there are gays who are Irish, and gays who are Catholic. If other types of organizations are allowed to march, then why not gay societies? Isn't this exactly what blacks endured during the segregation epoch?
These objections have been answered so many times that they need not be answered again. Instead we'll deal with a question that, to my knowledge, has generally gone unasked: why the St. Paddy's Day parade? It's true that there are several reasons to target it: it originates in a Catholic feast, and the Church remains a major bête noire to the gay movement. Ireland, largely thanks to its long-established matriarchy, remains one of the most heterosexual societies on the planet.
But gay organizations claim not be targeting the parade and attendant festivities at all. They merely want to join the fun - to accompany other marchers, to share in the excitement and camaraderie, while waving their signs, chanting their slogans, and dressing up in head-to-toe leather, purple afro wigs, and giant penis costumes. What reasonable individual would ever be opposed to that?
Back before the great Stonewall liberation, there was a pastime among homosexuals (not yet widely known as "gays" - that came later), known among other terms as "freaking the straights."
Two or more gays would show up at a park, a supermarket, anyplace where a lot of straight people would be likely to congregate. Locating a prominent spot easily visible to the largest number of onlookers, le boys (les girls not so much) would start camping up outrageously, making out, shrieking and prancing up the aisles or pathways, queening it up to max while enjoying the public reaction from fainting old ladies, mothers trying to cover their children's eyes, outraged proprietors, and aging war vets. They would decamp (so to speak) before law enforcement could arrive or any other consequences had time to develop.
While venues were limited -- police bars, country & western joints, or football games were generally overlooked -- variations were effectively infinite. In one way, it could be viewed as the closest gays ever got to good, clean fun. But it is more readily seen as a method of blowing off steam by violating the unwritten but well-understood code governing sexual minority behavior, and as a way of giving the detested heterosexual majority a poke in the eye.
With the greater toleration afforded gays in the last forty years, it has been taken for granted that conduct like this has pretty much faded away. But what if it hasn't? What if "freaking the straights" has not vanished at all, but instead changed its nature and style in adapting to new and more open circumstances? What if gays didn't abandon it but instead have expanded and politicized it?
So we begin to see what the annual St. Pat's battles are all about. It's been a long time since St Patrick's Day was simply an ethnic festival. It has been absorbed into the national tapestry, becoming Americanized and universal. St. Patrick's Day has become the American spring festival, to the great annoyance of much of the Catholic hierarchy, understandably infuriated to see a saint's day shanghaied in such a fashion.
As an American festival with no direct patriotic connection and acting as something of low-key Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's day makes a perfect target for gay activism. So we get "freak the straights" on a larger scale.
Much of the gay agenda is of the same mold, including gay marriage, or as they've begun calling it, "marriage equality" (soon it'll be "global marriage change"). Marriage is, of course, the core of heterosexual life, a religious sacrament, the climactic moment of many a novel and film ("Reader, I married him."), the bulwark of family life. As such, it is a perfect target for outrage and mockery.
Which is the point of the gay marriage campaign. As recently pointed out by Dean Kalahar on this site, there is no actual demand for homosexual marriage. The percentage of gays actually formalizing their unions is miniscule - less than 20% of gay couples, or roughly 0.06% of the overall population. It has never been part of the lifestyle and is unlikely ever to be. The more honest proponents of gay marriage (such as Andrew Sullivan, strange as it may seem to refer to him in such a context) have been clear that they are not in fact seeking marriage per se, but instead something that would be called "marriage" while having only a vanishing resemblance to the thing that straights do. The six-foot-tall dragsters in bridal gowns and three-hundred-pound women in tuxes make that clear enough. The heterosexual world is still despised by many gays, and marriage remains a target.
That is what lies behind all the Hallmark wedding card rhetoric and publicity stunts like six-year-olds addressing the topic before state senates: an attempt by the smallest of tails to wag the largest of dogs. The gay movement demands not tolerance, not the friction-filled tumult of American life that everyone else is subject to, but full acceptance of themselves and their lifestyle, including their adapted stance as extreme social jesters, professional victims, and "sexual outlaws" (in the words of John Rechy's pre-AIDS manifesto). They want the privileges and benefits of marriage while retaining the ability to attack and degrade it. They intend to use marriage as a shield while at the same time destroying the comforting illusions and allure that it represents for the straight majority.
Which brings us to what's wrong with the defense of marriage. Defenders (in particular conservatives) are treating it as a serious debate, to be handled in only the highest terms and with the most astringent of rhetoric. It is no such thing. Attempts to call on biology and to reiterate millennia of tradition are beside the point. It is a clown show, a comic routine, and marriage defenders are acting like straight men (sorry) -- the butts of ridicule; part of the punchline.
The same is true of the conservative Brahmins who have emerged in support of gay marriage in recent days. Granted that Rob Portman and S.E. Cupp have done so for careerist reasons (Portman has flipped on behalf of his beloved son, you say? Really? Then why did he wait two years?), all of them -- Charles Murray included -- are posing as patrons ushering a poor abused minority into full equality. In fact, they have simply taken on the role of sidekick to the gay activist vanguard. They will be dumped as soon as their usefulness is ended.
It is clear as to how the gay marriage debate ought to be handled. No more earnest rhetoric, no more attempts to meet point with point, to argue rationally and succinctly. This simply gives gay activists something to mock. Instead, we need to call it what it is. The gays need to be outed, their campaign revealed as an immature and infantile holdover from a period when they were treated more nastily than they deserved, and struck back with whatever weapons they had -- however pitiful.
Those days are long over, and it's time that the gay community woke up to the fact. Gays have achieved a place for themselves, and that's fine as far as it goes. But tolerance has been achieved through gays not encroaching on what is important to the majority. Nobody but throwbacks, neurotics, and cranks care whether any single individual is gay as such. Lady Cunard's dictum has become the rule: "I don't care what they do as long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses." But there has been no lack of panicked stampedes in the streets in recent years, with gay activists promising more. Tolerance, much less acceptance, comes at the price of responsibility. If gays continue to attack and debase what is important to the heterosexual majority -- their marriages, their children, their way of life as a whole -- we know what the result will be: an ugly blowback that will wreck any expectations of consensus for decades to come. This is simple human nature, and it cannot be curtailed by statute or media campaigns.
If gays were to cultivate a serious interest in the American Irish, they might very well learn something. The Irish were the most despised ethnicity in the United States during much of the 19th century. "No Irish need Apply" isn't the half of it. Ships full of sick immigrants fleeing the famine were turned away from New York and Boston, with entire shiploads dying in the St. Lawrence (there are mass graves for tens of thousands on islands below Montreal, unmarked to this day). Police in major cities cordoned off Irish neighborhoods and watched as the gang members murdered each other. According to Thomas Sowell, the Irish were shipped south for work too dangerous for the slaves. Slaves were worth money, while Irishmen were worth nothing.
And what was the Irish response in later years? Did they seek revenge against the WASP elites that had treated them so badly? Did they tear down the culture that had preceded them?
They did nothing of the sort. They became one with America, and today comprise one of the most admired ethnic strains in this country. Nobody ever hears "bogtrotter" or "Sassenach" thrown around today.
Other ethnicities have been encouraged to cling to their hatreds, which has led to things like white toddlers being shot in the face without a second thought. It is up to the gays themselves to choose which path they will take. They would be advised not to mess with anyone's parade.