Of shirt-lifters and scholars

Maud mentioned Wednesday that Alabamian legislator Gerald Allen has proposed banning books from public libraries and unversities that contain gay characters. Some sources suggest that books written by gays would fall under the proposed legislation as well, since they could “sanction, recognize, foster or promote” homosexuality, which the proposed law would forbid. Instead of burning, he charmingly suggests that they dig “a big hole and dump them in and bury them”.

I’m tempted to mock this, to make light of how they’ll deal with the difficult issue of mere gay innuendo or suggestive subtext, or bisexuals. Leave the books half-buried, perhaps? Coated with a light layer of dust? Smudge the dustjacket with a spot of mud? What if the author was a straight gal, but had occasional fantasies while drunk about necking with that foxy UPS deliverywoman? What if they were a four on the Kinsey scale, but not a six? What if they didn’t go all the way, but just stopped with dry humping?

Will they throw “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” in there, because Howard Ashman was part of the creative team?

(Although honestly, Beast, that hairstyle was always a bit faggy, you shameless shift-lifter. Who do you think you’re fooling? Beauty is so your beard, and we all know it.)

But another part of me wants to get very dramatic and hysterical, and shake a cyber-finger, quoting Martin Niemoeller. But a less histrionic me just wonders why there isn’t more outcry about this, why you have to dig pretty hard to find out news like the following:

About this time last year, a child of lesbian parents was reprimanded by his teacher for “saying bad words”, when the boy explained to a friend that he had two mothers, and what that meant. 365gay.com reports:

The following week the school required Marcus to attend a special behavioral clinic at 6:45 in the morning, where he was forced to repeatedly write “I will never use the word ‘gay’ in school again.”

On a student behavior contract form that Marcus had to fill out and give to his mother about the incident, Marcus wrote that the thing he did wrong was that he “sed bad wurds.”

An investigation carried out by the school board that according to Huff was little more than a whitewash, found that the teacher, Bethea, had done nothing wrong.

Just the other day, Atrios put up a photo of the “student behavior contract”, which the teacher sent home with Marcus: “He explained to another child that you are gay, and what being gay means.” The word “gay” is underlined twice.

What a wretched, monstrous thing to do to a kid.

Here’s the original story (You’ll need a free registration, or try bugmenot for passwords).

But now, a year later, the teacher is suing one of the lesbian moms for defamation, and presumably, “emotional distress”.

The current climate suggests that it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds (to me, at least). In other horrifying news, the governor of Michigan is removing same-sex partner benefits from contracts negotiated with state workers, in response to the anti-gay referendum that just passed in that state.

It’s tempting to see it as just a bad sign of the times, but these are real people who will now be denied the same benefits that their co-workers have. They’ll lose real money, and have real hardship because of it.

It’s things like that which make me want to rail against “those people” who pass referendums against gay people, and encourage kids to think of their parents as dirty. I feel a real ugliness welling up in me, a contempt, a dehumanization of the same sort I’m railing against. I don’t think we’ll solve any problems that way.

I’m impressed by Harvard student Kate A. Tiskus’s reasonable view in the Crimson, where she suggests that little gestures turn “‘homosexual’ from a concept into a person” for people who voted “yes” to banning gay marriage. At least some of the people who voted for that referendum don’t know that their kids or their uncles or aunts or brothers or sisters or neighbors or guys they work with are gay. The early-nineties imperative to “come out” was frought with judgment and a certain kind of privileged elitism, and seemed to imply that the fight against only homophobia was only for gay people to wage. But you don’t have to be identify as a member of any particular category of human to fight against bigotry, right? Here’s hoping that an army of little gestures turns the tide back.


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