Monday, October 11, 2010

Oh, New York... Carl Paladino? REALLY?

Carl Paladino, the GOP candidate for governor in New York, recently said:

"I don't want [children] to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't." Gay people, he thinks, "would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family than being gay".

This reminded me of a dinner table conversation I had what must have been going on 20 years ago with my mother. My cousin, who'd come up with me and my brother in this area somewhere between sibling and cousin, had recently come out as a lesbian and my mother was upset about it. She didn't think my cousin was a sinner or a going to hell or anything really stupid like that. But she was worried that life would be so hard for her. She felt like she could have done more to protect her from this painful homosexual existence. It reminded me a lot of the same worries folks espoused about interracial relationships: "I'm not upset about their relationship, but how miserable the lives of their children!" I actually think this came from an honest place for a lot of people who just couldn't grasp that biracial kids weren't going to be living in perpetual 1955. Shoot, they might even end up doing pretty well. They didn't understand that these fears were more a propagation of a prejudice than a reaction to it. In their world, the blended children and the gays were shunned and mocked. And they had little faith that the world could ever be different.

But it was. My cousin now has a great job, a great life and, most importantly, a partner who is made of awesome, who loves her completely and who fits into our family like a hand into a glove. No one is surprised by this. If you are a wonderful and smart and kind person, it stands to reason that if all goes as it should with the universe, you end up with someone who deserves you.

My mother would be surprised if I reminded her of this ancient conversation. She loves my cousin and her partner and understands easily that gay people are no happier or unhappier in their relationships than straight people (which is to say: happy, unhappy, really depends on the time of day and if you've gotten enough sleep). Gay people just are. They exist. Being gay isn't a rebellion or a political stance. It's no more radical or exotic than being left-handed. If we want to go large and look at this in the grander cultural environment, it's clear that not only are gay lives happier with the liberty to live honestly, but life is easier and more peaceful for us straight folks who accept this simply.

It's surprising to me that in 2010 there are still people who think like Carl Paladino. Keeping up all that machismo must be exhausting; this miasma of denial like creating an imaginary kaleidoscope, and insisting to the rest of the world what you see through it is real-er than what's really real. All of us, surely, know gay people who are living rich, full, happy lives. Don't all of us, at least tangentially, know gay people who are enjoying successful relationships (should be marriage, but will be soon); gay people who are raising happy kids by following the simple algorithm that good parenting is achieved not by neglecting your own needs but by putting your kids' needs first? Isn't life just easier for all of us when we stop freaking out and creating drama where there just is none?

It really is. Trust me on this. If not, ask my Mom. She'd totally agree.

Also, Carl Paladino is a colossal asshole. Really, New York? Are you just trying to make us feel better about the whole Blagevich fiasco?