Those Uppity Gays

The whole Chick-fil-A controversy reminds me of a period of time in recent American history when a segment of our society that tried to assert what it believed to be its civil rights and dignity was brutally repressed, particularly in a certain section of the country.

I refer, of course, to African-Americans which is certainly not what they were called back then.

Recently, I loaned our copy of The Help to my young teenage son to watch. He told me later that he enjoyed the movie but was appalled that black people were actually treated that way. I was dismayed, but not surprised I suppose, that he knew so little about what things were like back then.

My son has probably never even heard the word nigger. The thought that a black person was forced to use separation public washrooms, was expected to sit at the back of the bus, was expected to remember her place, was expected to accept second-class citizenship and (perhaps most of all) was expected not get uppity and aspire to being treated equally all of this was beyond the pale of my sons comprehension.

I gave him a very brief history of what it was like, what I remember watching on the news growing up in the 60s. What I didnt go into was the way segregation was viewed by society at large, particularly in the South, which is also the bastion of Chick-fil-A. How in those days, sermons were preached in many pulpits about the propriety of keeping things the way God intended them to be. How those who were trying to change things were called agitators and were routinely intimidated, beaten or even murdered. How most people were simply part of the silent majority who didnt commit acts of violence but who nevertheless to one degree or another agreed with those of their ilk who were committing acts of violence, whether government-sanctioned (e.g., police) or acts of vigilantism.

What I think he would have had the most trouble comprehending, however, is the concept that African-Americans were expected to just accept the order of things as dictated by the racist white majority. Blacks were expected to see themselves as inferior, because of course they were. No amount of agitation could change the religiously-sanctioned (and even promoted) view that blacks were inferior to whites and needed to be treated so. What really enraged certain segments of the white population in the South (as well as elsewhere in the country) was when blacks simply refused to accept this status-quo. How dare they be so uppity!

So, here we are in 2012, and the same thing is going on only this time, its the gays that are being uppity. Certain segments of the population, i.e., those represented by the people that stood in line at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country a couple of days ago, are perhaps willing at least publicly to accept the existence of homosexuals, but they are enraged that gays presume to aspire to the same degree of civic equality as heterosexuals. They insist that gays accept second-class status and are infuriated when we refuse to do so.

To me, thats what this Chick-fil-A thing is all about. Dignity. Vast swaths of our society expect us to accept their world-view, their beliefs about ourselves and their views as to what we are entitled in the way of civil rights. The fact that we refuse to do so makes some of them practically foam at the mouth.

I wonder, will my grandson, 40 years from now, express incredulity that a minority in our society was discriminated against, suffered acts of violence and was expected to know their place and keep it? Will he find it difficult to comprehend that religious organizations actively participated in this discrimination and fostered this intolerance and hate? Will he wonder why a majority of society simply accepted this situation as being part of the natural order of things?

I hope so.

* Invictus Pilgrim blogs atBeyond-the-Closet-Door.blogspot.com, where the above post was published last Friday.

118 thoughts on “Those Uppity Gays

  1. I don’t advocate for an amendment banning divorce for a few reasons:

    #1 – I don’t like using the constitutional amendment process for much of anything – from flag burning, to whatever else. I wouldn’t support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage either.

    #2 – I recognize the necessity of divorce in certain cases, and see no easy way to disentangle those needed cases from the rest.

    But Chanson is correct – I generally view divorce as a negative thing. I think the amicable divorce is largely a myth, and I would support social movements that meant to reduce the rate of divorce in society thout endangering the people who marry.

    So Kuri, the “but you support divorce” argument won’t fly – because I don’t support it. Neither do a lot of people who oppose gay marriage. I both support retaining distinctive societal status for heterosexual unions, AND support measures to reduce divorce.

  2. And Kuri, you haven’t answered how you would handle the high school student who stated that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    How would you handle it?

  3. @103: Actually, Seth, Kuri did answer your question.

    YOU are the one who hasn’t responded–to any number of issues others raised.

  4. Certain attitudes here remind me of hearing RM’s talk candidly amongst themselves about both their missions and the rhetoric around them. Occasionally you’ll hear someone say something like, “Worst two years of my life–but I’m going to go home and say they were the best, so I can sucker others the same way I got suckered.”

    It makes me wonder how much the “misery loves company” syndrome applies to opposition to divorce. In the same way that a link has been demonstrated between homophobia and repressed homosexual desire, there might well be a link between feeling trapped by a bad marriage and feeling that bad marriages should be hard for other people to escape as well.

    Combine the Mormon obsession with marrying, sooner rather than later, and not being overly picky about whom you choose, with the whole “endure to the end” directive, and it seems likely enough that people will end up so well and truly stuck in bad situations that they can’t help resenting and thinking poorly of anyone who manages to get out of a bad marriage–but also be too cynical and dishonest to admit what’s going on in their own lives and how that affects their sense of what others should be able to do in similar situations.

    This is particularly true when they discuss marriage in terms of obligation rather than happiness.

  5. @101 Well, I’ve explained the context of my argument and who it was aimed at, and that’s obviously not you, so I don’t see any point in carrying on with this part of the discussion.

    @102 This was my answer:

    Pretty much the same way it would handle this scenario:
    A high school student in a class discussion, without name-calling, declares that marriage is supposed to be between men and women of the same race only.

  6. OK then, how would you handle a situation where “A high school student in a class discussion, without name-calling, declares that marriage is supposed to be between men and women of the same race only”?

  7. does anyone get why Seth apparently thinks he’s posing a difficult question here?

    high school students say lots of inaccurate things. You just point out that there is factual information that contradicts what they’re saying. Often their classmates will do it for them. Someone might say, “Marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman–in Belgium, or Iowa, or Massachusetts, or Washington, DC.”

    And then you can just nod and add, “And anti-miscegenation laws–meaning laws making inter-racial marriages illegal–were declared unconstitutional in 1967 by the Supreme Court in a case called Loving v. Virginia.”

    It’s really not that hard, and teachers deal with utterly inaccurate assumptions and assertions about what the world is like ALL THE TIME.

  8. @106 Many things would depend on the school, the class, and the student. At my own kids’ school, my primary concern might be preventing responses from his/her peers from becoming verbally abusive in any way. (Same thing for your gay marriage scenario, btw.) In general, though, I suppose it might be a good springboard for a discussion of Jim Crow, Loving vs. Virgina, and so on.

    How would you handle it?

  9. Not sure I’d handle it as competently Kuri, but I hope I would handle it the same as you describe.

  10. It makes me wonder how much the misery loves company syndrome applies to opposition to divorce. In the same way that a link has been demonstrated between homophobia and repressed homosexual desire, there might well be a link between feeling trapped by a bad marriage and feeling that bad marriages should be hard for other people to escape as well.

    I think we’ve agreed that openly speculating about other commenters’ personal lives falls outside the realm of civil discourse. So I’d prefer to keep this general rather than (perhaps erroneously) applying it to any individual. However, I do think that the misery loves company syndrome is apparent in much of the “defense of marriage” position.

    When someone makes a tremendous sacrifice, generally the last thing they want to hear is that it was unnecessary. They can bolster their belief in their own choice by insisting that others need to make the same sacrifice (and by resenting the people who choose otherwise).

    If you think you’d be happier without your spouse and children — but you stay with them out of social pressure and a sense of duty — you can easily get the mistaken impression that those are the only glue holding together anyone‘s marriage. The decision to leave a bad marriage (or not to marry in the first place) only looks selfish if you see marriage as an inherently unpleasant obligation. Claiming that marriage requires coercion truly denigrates the institution of marriage.

    My perspective is that most free people get married and stay married because they want to be married. Coercing/pressuring people to get married is not merely unnecessary, it is totally counter-productive to creating stable marriages and good parents.

  11. Chanson, I think you’d be making a rather self-serving assumption about people to say they’re unhappy.

    Also, I think you’re confusing happiness and fulfillment with mere pleasure and pain-avoidance. Not the same thing at all.

    Everyone can see a defect, as long as it’s on the other side.

    But have you ever stopped to consider this –

    The advocates of the general “free sex” movement don’t really come off as a particularly cheerful bunch either. There’s a sort of hysterical desperation in the tone of their declarations about how “happy” they are. Almost like they’re begging you not to question it. Sort of like watching drunken revelers at a big city nightclub. Something profoundly fake and inauthentic about the “good time” they are trying to prove they are having. If you look behind the plastered-on smiles and enthusiastic yells, there’s a kind of twitchy nervousness underlying it all.

    Nah – typically the people who crow the loudest about being happy are the least happy in the room. Same thing with authenticity, same thing with fulfillment.

    It’s why I don’t bother trying to tell people on the Internet whether I’m happy or not in my life. It’s a pointless thing to argue about with people who, frankly, don’t know that much about you personally anyway.

  12. One other thing to consider – duty may be a lousy long-term reason to stay in a marriage. But it can get you through some rough patches to better times together. It would be stupid to throw away such a useful tool.

  13. “Nah typically the people who crow the loudest about being happy are the least happy in the room. Same thing with authenticity, same thing with fulfillment.”

    That is the way I’ve felt when I’ve repeated heard in LDS Church meetings that Latter-day Saints are the happiest, most authentic, most fulfilled people in the world. And that’s not to mention they have the most stable marriages.

  14. @112:

    I think youd be making a rather self-serving assumption about people to say theyre unhappy.

    this from the most notorious mindreader on the site, the guy who regularly insists, in profoundly self-serving ways, that he knows what people are thinking and why they do what they do, and refuses to be corrected — even when they themselves insist he’s got their motives and beliefs all wrong.

    Wow.

    @114: Exactly. thanks, Parker.

    I think we might even add that “typically the people who crow the loudest about being concerned about the welfare of children are actually the least concerned in the room.” It makes such a great smokescreen for some other agenda.

  15. I think that’s certainly true Parker. I saw plenty of people at BYU who reminded me of the mom from the movie “Strictly Ballroom” (“I’ve got my ‘happy face’ on”). It was also the same on my mission. The missionaries who were the most obnoxious about how “ugly” the local Japanese girls were, were the most likely ones to wind up having girl problems on their mission.

    It’s a human thing.

  16. I wonder how far we can take Seth’s principle that “typically the people who crow the loudest about being happy are the least happy in the room. Same thing with authenticity, same thing with fulfillment”? Would it make sense to argue, for instance, that the people who crow the loudest about being worried about the future of marriage (always predicting, as Kuri put it, predictably unpredictable dire consequences) if society does X are actually the most invested in some very personal present-time reality?

    Another possible corollary: We have Seth himself to thank for demonstrating that the people who crow the loudest about Sunstone being inconsequential are sometimes those who most want to be there and resent that they can’t. http://mainstreetplaza.com/2012/07/29/because-the-need-to-understand-a-relationship-often-doesnt-die-when-relationship-does/comment-page-1/#comment-105117

    In any event, it’s appropriate to consider Seth’s principle in relation to Mormonism, as Parker points out and as Seth supports with his examples. Mormons do claim, more loudly and often than just about anyone else, that they have the secret to happiness. They enlist a vast body of “volunteer” missionaries, who, as I noted, sometimes feel deceived about how the happiness their service will provide–but rather than announce that the emperor has no clothes, they continue the deception.

    Part of the need to perpetuate the deception stems from the Mormon assertion that their formula for happiness is perfect and if you don’t manage to make it work, the problem is YOU and not the formula. Rather than risk being condemned as faulty, people simply refrain from revealing the formula as the fool’s errand it is.

    No doubt the formula does work for a few people, in the same way some few people manage to lose incredible amounts of weight on diets that fail everyone else; their claims about how great is is are sincere. And there are probably many people who parrot what they hear others say without stopping to think very hard about whether they really like the life they got stuck with.

    But Mormonism doesn’t come with a “you mileage may vary” caveat. Nope. Your mileage should NOT vary–unless you’re somehow doing it wrong.

    So when people figure out that A) the formula doesn’t work and B) no one is allowed to talk about its problems, It’s not surprising that they would walk away in droves from the whole fool’s errand.

    Which makes both the church’s staggering attrition rate and the anger some people feel about the whole deception pretty easy to understand. It’s not just that the Book of Mormon is an utter fiction; it’s that believing and basing your life on a lie doesn’t actually make you any happier—and it’s pretty insulting to be told that if you just believe the lie harder, it would have worked.

    This conversation illustrates parts of the lie. Mormonism teaches people to fear the world in all sorts of ways–so many things are a threat, including other people’s sex lives and family structures! It shouldn’t need pointing out, but apparently it does: being taught to fear the world, being encouraged to feel threatened, makes you feel unsafe and insecure, which are pretty incompatible with happiness. How can you trust in your own full personhood, your own relationships, when you’re explicitly told and really do believe that others’ attempts to claim full personhood and define their own relationships fundamentally undermines your own?

  17. Nah typically the people who crow the loudest about being happy are the least happy in the room. Same thing with authenticity, same thing with fulfillment.

    That is the way Ive felt when Ive repeated heard in LDS Church meetings that Latter-day Saints are the happiest, most authentic, most fulfilled people in the world. And thats not to mention they have the most stable marriages.

    I don’t claim to be exceptionally happy. I especially don’t claim to have the formula for happiness, nor do I believe that others need to copy my choices.

    I do hope that people will look at my example — and the examples of many, many other people — and decide for themselves what are the best choices for their own lives and their own situations.

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