Pride and Prejudice

San Francisco Pride Parade

It’s Pride month, when we celebrate the achievements of the gay community around the world.

Unfortunately, it also means that the nutball wing of the country deems it right and proper to celebrate the month by trampling on rainbow flags, breaking into drag queen story hours, threatening Pride marches with violence, and in general showing off just how imperiled they are by people who have the courage to live their lives in the manner they see fit.

Not to mention how the political arms of these groups like to spend the month making laws that negate fundamental human rights for the 7.1 percent of Americans who identify as anything other than heterosexual.

This begs the question: Why?

I know a number of those opposed to the gay community will claim a refuge in their bibles. Ah yes, religion, the last refuge of the scoundrel. God says you shouldn’t. It’s a sin. Here’s the thing though, just as many religious followers of all stripes say it’s not a sin as say it is. Wow, quite a contradiction there fellas. What do you think accounts for that?

Sorry, but I’m not blaming religion totally for this. I think it goes to a more primal place in the human psyche – fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the “other”. Fear of not being in control. Fear of seeing the world change and evolve. When fear grips a person and informs every interaction with other people we have a distinct word that takes over.

Prejudice.

At the heart of any prejudice is fear. Fear of being bodily attacked. Fear of losing one’s job. Fear of having one’s place in society co-opted. Fear of, well just about anything, including when it comes to gays that deep down “I don’t want to talk about it” fear. You know the one I mean. Think Martin Landau in NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

Yeah that fear. When fear is released from the inner sanctum of the human mind it manifests as prejudice.

I don’t understand people who are afraid of gays. What are you afraid of? That he/she will make a pass at you? That his/her presence will somehow turn you gay? That a gay person will somehow upset the balance of nature that you have set out for yourself and your family? In all of those cases I would have to say get over yourself, he’s just not that into you. Or as my dear departed great friend Raymond Wood once said to a militant homophobe, “I’m sorry you’re just not my type, I’m into masculine men”.

An aside: I must admit that the first time I heard of a militant group of white men who called themselves The Proud Boys I immediately jumped to the conclusion they were a group of butch gay men out to eradicate homophobia.

Hmm, other than that last part maybe that’s just what they are.

But I digress.

Though prejudice arises from fear, that fear has to be instilled in a person. Natural fears are instilled in our DNA; the cavemen learned to not put their hands into a fire or to give a wide berth to jungle predators and thus we today don’t touch a hot stove or aimlessly wander through unknown terrain. The fears that lead to prejudice though are ones that are taught, usually by a parental figure, and then re-enforced by the majority of the segment of society we belong to.

It takes a lot of work to overcome those fears/prejudices. Overcoming them to a great degree means turning your back on your own family and/or community since they were the ones that first instilled the prejudice in you. It’s difficult to do that. I applaud those who have been able to conquer that societal Everest.

As for those who refuse to make that trek and especially to those who turn their prejudice into violence I have no sympathy or regard for you. I would call it my own prejudice, but then again at least I attempt to reason with those people and try to make them understand how their hate ends up manifesting as injury to far too many people, themselves included.

I dread that reasoning with the prejudiced is becoming more and more impossible. Their prejudice is being weaponized by the so called Republican Party to gain or maintain power even at the costs of human dignity, human lives, and the concept of democracy. That’s what happened in 1860 in America and 1939 in Europe and again and again in the years since in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, all over the world. Violence is met with violence because the violence of the prejudiced could only be stopped with violence.

Prejudice is violence. If you hate someone just because they are different from yourself you are doing violence whether you propel your fists out or not. What we are seeing in these ultra right wing groups like The Proud Boys is the end result of years of being taught that Blacks, Jews, Gays, Catholics, any of the “others” are to be feared, hated, and with the acquiescence if not outright help of politicians and the media, to be terminated.

I’m not much of one for Rodgers and Hammerstein, but I do have to say that Oscar really hit it out of the park with these lyrics.

Shapiro Out

 

 

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