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An Overheard Conversation; or, America Has Changed. For the Better.

10 April, 2009

Today, I walked past a grandmotherly-type older woman who, as she sat upon a park bench, quizzed her granddaughter/great-granddaughter (no idea which, but she was around 80 or 90 and the young girl about 5) about opposites.  I overheard the conversation as I walked past.  “What is the opposite of tall?”

The little girl (pig tails, rosy cheeks, basically your central-casting version of girl, cute) answered, “Short.”

Grandma asked, “And what is the opposite of ‘in’?”

“Out.”

“Left?”

“Right.”

“Straight?”

And the little girl, without missing a beat, answered, “Gay.”

Grandma paused for a moment.  I waited.  I bent over a water fountain nearby and listened in.  This should be good, I thought. Then Grandma said, “Hmmm.  I wouldn’t have thought of that, but you are right.  Now what is the opposite of ‘crooked’?”

“Straight.”

The game continued as I walked on.  America has changed.  Ten years ago, twenty, thirty, forty years ago, for a five- or six-year-old child to have an inkling of gay or straight would have been exceedingly unusual (hell, I was about 12 or 13 before I realized what gay actually meant).  The elderly woman’s reaction, though, would have been truly amazing.  That average America now accepts the normality of homosexuality, to me, shows a great deal of progress, a great deal of positive change.

Progress is not good enough.

America (a majority of young Americans with a lesser percentage of acceptance at older age brackets) has accepted that homosexuality is normal.  Gay couples buying a house?  Normal.  Gay couples acting like any other boring couple?  Normal.  Gay couples enjoying full human rights?  That is where, for the nonce, we are.

There was a time when slavery was legal.  Those days are gone.  There was a time when discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sexuality or religion was legal.  Those days are gone. There was a day when blatant and public antisemitism was acceptable.  Those days are gone.  There was a time when women could not vote.  Those days are gone.  There was a time when inter-racial marriage was illegal.  Those days are gone.  There was a time when gay-bashing was considered acceptable, when discrimination against gays or lesbians was common and legal.  Those days are also gone.  We (well, except for many conservative and religious activists and followers ) now accept the fact that human rights apply to human beings. 

Human rights are for all humans.  Marriage is a human right.  All humans must be allowed to marry.  And yes, that includes gay and lesbian humans.

Today’s overheard conversation tells me that we have come a long way.  The vicious backlash against gay marriage, now legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and now Vermont and recognized in DC, shows that we, as a nation, have along way to go.  Not as far as before, but still a long way.

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5 comments

  1. Amazing. Just think how life could be once the RRRW completely dies off. It might be like this everywhere.


  2. Buffy: Thanks for stopping by. Quick question: RRRW? I get Radical Religious Right. What is the ‘W’?


  3. Well I agree with you mostly, but there is still harassment. Kids are afraid to come out of their closets because of the harassment.


  4. Is RRRW Radical Religious Right Wing?

    Interesting conversation to have overheard. I’d love to have a tea party with that lady and little girl. I think they’d be great company.


  5. Chappie: I thought the same thing, but didn’t want to intrude. They sounded like normal average Americans. Which is what frightens the RRRW (and I think you are correct about the W) fears most.



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