BENDING EVERYBODY STRAIGHT. I know a guy who’s into shoes. And into colors, theater and rearranging furniture. He majored in art, and can spend hours hanging one piece in the only two square feet of wall space he has left– robin’s egg blue and Chinese red walls, I might add. He wrote and directed musical satire in college. Johnny Mathis is all over his iPhone, iPad and iPod along with Judy Collins singing “Danny Boy” and way too many original Broadway casts singing their showstoppers, all of which he incessantly hums. He makes tomato aspic. He wears a lot of purple and pink, liberally sprinkles words like fabulous and spectacular in general conversation, has a couple of precious matching dogs, and has the legs for cross dressing. He’s a lifelong Memphian, but he doesn’t hunt or fish.
Gay, right? Please.
I know a guy who’s into football.
College and pro, not to mention college hoops, the front row seats he had when the Griz hit town and the box he had when AutoZone Park opened. He gets more score alerts on his phone than Bob Costas. He’s played just about everything, still plays golf for beer, stays up all night for poker, drinks old school scotch rocks, and still stays in touch with frat brothers from 40 years ago. He’s an Eagle Scout, former scoutmaster, coach and pool shark, and can scratch and belch with the best of them at inappropriate times while telling inappropriate stories. Hard rock, hot blues, Motown, Stax, the Stones and the Dead, Willie and Waylon wail from his speakers, and he still likes the way his wife moves. Many of his friends aren’t just right of center, they’re right about everything. While he will eat 10 Krystal cheese and something he just dropped on the floor, he won’t eat quiche.
Straight, right? Please.
I know these guys, because I’m both of them, and all of that is true – except for the legs part.
When we allow ourselves to be defined by stereotypes, or to measure, judge and exclude others because of stereotypical thinking, we become the most common of denominators – unable to rise any higher or sink any lower.
I don’t believe gay is a choice – any more than ethnicity, or age, or heterosexuality is – but even if it were a choice, it should be afforded the same protection against persecution because of that choice.
Like, say, the choice of religion. Like, say, the freedom to believe whatever I like, and the freedom of not being forced to believe what you do.
In other words, while I object to the sanctimonious, self-righteous and judgmental diatribes of oh-so-very-certain church folks and others who would deny the LBGTQ community their basic civil rights, I do recognize their right to disagree, and my religion asks that I ask their forgiveness for my unkind words.
So forgive me, and let’s quit stalling and get on with what’s right.
I’m a Memphian, and for this city to work, we all have to work together.
Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.