Friday, December 8, 2006

The dust has settled and Canada has decided to stick with allowing gays to marry. It seems like a big deal but the majority of people don't seem to care. Why should straight Canada care that gays have fought so long and hard for something that most people take for granted? Well marriage is just the icing on top of a long and difficult to swallow cake that has been eaten by a not so small minority of people in our culture - an at times invisible and beaten minority.

Lets take a brief overview of the gay rights movement as yours truly tends to understand it right now.

Gays have existed in human society for as long as human society has been around. Although the facts are murky, the oppression of gays is a relatively new occurence. After centuries, then, of oppression the homosexual population (estimated to be ~10-14% of a given population) began to fight back. Just as women were granted the right to vote, gays were on their way to not being sentenced to death for being what they were.

The gay rights movement began in the 1860's when German activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs came out publicly and began publishing books on same sex love. In North America the women's suffrage movement and liberation activists were populated not only with women fed up with the status quo, but with lesbians who wanted to see change. This allowed a crack in the door to be opened for the broader gay rights movement in North America.

In the 1940's and 50's the gay rights movement became more public and organizations sprung up with members of the social elite, political and wealthy counted as members. Still, homosexuality remained illegal, with many jursidicitions punishing 'sodomy' with death, and gays themselves seen as mentally ill according to the American Psychiatric Association.

However the modern gay movement occurred in the 1960's with the free love movement that popularized activism for women, anti-Vietnam War and civil rights. The turning point is generally accepted to be the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar that was frequently raided (as were other gay bars) and patrons were arrested for being homosexual. However on one particular night the patrons resisted arrest and they fought back... for days. Soon after gay liberation groups popped up around the US and other Western nations to challenge the way homosexuals were seen by the rest of the population.

Gay rights have come a long way and unfortunately still have a long ways to go before it is accepted in today's society.

Anyways, that is a very, very brief overview of the gay rights movement as it stands today. It should stand as a hallmark, then that gays have achieved the right to marry someone who they truly love and are recognized as a couple, a family, just as anyone else would be. This is why the recent 'revisitation' of the 'gay marriage debate' is so important to not just gays but to Canadians. Canadians pride themselves on being multicultural. Culture isn't just defined as being Chinese, French, Ukrainian or First Nations... it isn't always about where you come from but who you associate with and with whom you feel at home. In this way there is a gay culture and Canada must recognize that the rights of this culture are every bit as important as the rights of Muslims or Christians.

So, thats the end of my rant... and I hope you actually read it, instead of skimming over for some crude joke involving cunts or abortions.

I leave you with a list of prominent gay historical figures so that you can see that human history has been contributed to by not only heterosexuals.

Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Beethoven, Freddie Mercury.

There are, of course, many more, but the night is getting shorter and I need sleep. I'll probably put up another post on this topic soon, but I do have lots of filth in between. Thaks for reading!


brendawg said...

Dear Mike,
I am proud to say I read your whole rant, and didn't just skim it over. I would also like to thank you for the history lesson, as I was ignorant to much of that information. As a heterosexual Canadian I think that everyone should have the right to marry whichever gender they prefer. I do have a question though, Do homosexuals also have the right to divorce? seems to me more laws have to change before we can truly call ourselves an accepting and multicultural nation.

your l'il buddy

LittleBob said...

Mike...That is a fantastic and as you said...Very, Very short summary of the gay rights movement. I am impressed that a man of your age would know this history (or even want to know it)but it really is important for our people to know their history. It has taken a lot of courage to deal with the oppression that has often been supported by many of the institutions that our societies value. i.e. governments, churches, professions,corporations, etc. Gay people and their allies have worked hard in the struggle to be recognized and accepted, and when these same institutions speak out on our behalf (i.e. with laws such as same sex marriage, inclusion in human rights legislation, etc) then the bigger message that they are giving to society is that homosexuals are equal to, and must be treated with the same respect afforded heterosexuals. Of course the opposite is true as well...when our institutions and public figures speak out against us...they are of course sending the message to those open to such hate...that it is okay to persecute people because their sexuality does not conform. We know in our lives of friends who have been abandoned by their families, harassed verbally and physically, refused jobs, asked to leave churches,and beaten up outside gay clubs. And of course we have lost friends whose self-esteem was so affected from feelings of inferiority that addiction, mental health issues, and even suicide have destroyed their lives. Homophobia really does kill. We live in a great country...we are among the most fortunate gay people in the world...but as you said Mike we still have a long way to go. Acceptance in our society has come a long way...and much of it has been the result of people like yourself being strong enough to "come out" and thus allowing others to get to know the real you...and through you, a little about "our" culture which of course is as diverse as the people who are part of it.