Once upon a time not too long ago in the wavy history of gays and lesbians, some of our same-sex oriented ancestors got together and decided that to become accepted within society, we — the homosexuals, the butches, femmes, drag queens and invisible, undetectable multitudes — needed a long-term strategy to get us there. That strategy carried a simple message: we are just like you. You being straight people.
But that was a quiet strategy. It became a bit noisier when it morphed into a rights movement demanding that gays and lesbians be granted the same rights as other citizens and live free of discrimination and harassment. Over the years and in some countries we’ve been granted full citizenship. There are now laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We have the right to marry, to have children, to name our partners on our pension benefits, to serve in the armed forces, to divorce and remarry and to dance wherever we want and with our tops off if we want to.
Other parts of the world are moving more slowly to grant rights for all of us. In some parts of the world, including in many parts of America, it remains unsafe to even think about coming out. Even with laws in place, it can be scary for some people. Still, there’s progress. We’re showing straight people we are just like them. We’re being accepted. We’ve got commercials that target us. We’ve got apps. We’ve got marketers and bankers and financial advisors and tourist destinations hunting for us. Well, not us so much as our dollars. We have arrived. And guess what? Some of us under the LGBTTIQQ2SA banner are taking that just like you to heart.
Yes, fellow lesbians, some of our tribe are showing the straights that we can do stupid things too. We buy an engagement ring for her after knowing her for two weeks. We get divorced after three months. We have custody battles over dogs and cats and pots and pans and kids. We get drunk on an empty stomach and send emails we shouldn’t and that we can never take back. We tweet in anger and unfriend good people on Facebook in fits of silliness. We get jealous. We get maudlin. We forget that we should never make a decision in the fever of PMS. We think that with enough time, we’ll forget her and work damned hard at doing it. We forget wallets, purses and women’s names, asking, “didn’t we sleep together last year?” And for doing stupid things that’s equal to the best of straight people doing stupid things, some of us decide to reason and argue with stupid people, like Rosie O’Donnell did after a football game when she got into it with some street preacher.
It’s hard to know all that truly happened because the video is but a snapshot in time. The video caught the action midstream. But then the preacher started calling Rosie names. In one corner, an unknown preacher proving himself a misogynist and a homophobe. In the other corner, Rosie O’Donnell, a celesbian with a reputation for getting into arguments with people for no seemingly good reason. In a handful of seconds Rosie proves that yes, lesbians can do stupid things too.
Why would a preacher stoop to name calling that insults women, lesbians and pigs? If you ever encounter an adult who resorts to name calling take it as a huge clue that you’re dealing with someone whose facility for intelligent discourse is limited. But I confess that after watching the video, I’m confused. Confused why someone, especially a celesbian someone, could think it fruitful to engage on any level with a street preacher, a guy who believes that memorizing the Bible gives him the right to level all sorts of derogatory remarks at a woman who is a lesbian, clearly something more than bad in his books: He tells Rosie that she’s ungodly, wicked and on the path to hell, and then completely dismisses her by telling her to go home to do the dishes.
When encountering stupid people, whether as a woman or a lesbian or a regular human being devoid of any such labels, there’s a choice: match stupid for stupid, or take the high road. We don’t have to collude in showing our own stupidity, do we? Two stupid people saying stupid things in louder and louder voices only proves stupidity. To wit: when the preacher tells Rosie to “go home and do the dishes” Rosie responds that she won’t be going home to do dishes because “I’m gonna home and f**k my wife.”
Now if Rosie had added a belch, she’d have driven home the fact that some of us lesbians, hey, we’re just like youse guys more decisively. Youse guys being straight guys who aren’t all that interested in any sort of education, culture, humanity or who never do dishes because that’s women’s work.
Preachers have been around since the advent of places for people to gather and share their stories. Notions of good, bad and wicked behaviours and what it takes to get to a happy afterlife have been with us since before the Egyptians. Sexism and homophobia are somewhat more recent developments. In other words, same old, same old, boring, move on down the street.
Rosie could have taken a deep breath, smiled tenderly and looked deeply into the preacher’s eyes and said something that would have had an elegant and haunting impact. She could have said something along the lines of, “Thank you for your suggestion about what to do when I get home. It’s true that my dishes are piling up. I’ve a busy life what with all the kids and everything. But tonight the dishes will have to wait. My wife and I have plans to get our fingers wet in ways that have nothing to do with dipping them in dish water.”
Okay. Rosie wouldn’t say that. But she could have. She’s smart and she’s quick and she’s witty. She could have said that and not objectified her wife. But it seems she got angry and couldn’t think. She couldn’t think that she was telling the straight world — who wonder such things — who wears the man pants in her relationship and who pretends to be the man in bed, because straight people think that with two women, one has to pretend to be the man. I’m sure she didn’t think that. And I suppose she didn’t think of what her actions modelled for her kids.
The preacher took the opportunity to bait a well-known lesbian. And Rosie stepped in it, big time. Why argue with a zealot? Why answer questions meant to provoke? To be honest, I can’t imagine being Rosie. She gets picked on: for being outspoken, for being a big girl, for being a lesbian. But is that reason enough to match stupid with stupid?
Perhaps Rosie isn’t familiar with the part of her that can be rational when she’s provoked and she doesn’t know how to acknowledge her primitive brain impulse to get feisty, while at the same time, respond through her more rational self. Who knows? Maybe she’s part of reality TV’s bleeding edge series, Real Lesbian Wives and their Challenges with Street Preachers.
Anger is understandable, even necessary. How it’s expressed is another matter. Let’s call in the sciences for a minute, because what science says is that human beings, even LGBTTIQQ2SA beings, are not intrinsically, or even remotely, rational. Judgment and emotion comes first, thanks to our still-active and influential primitive brain. Rational thinking kicks in a moment or two later, as long as there are no mind-altering beverages or substances involved, and even then there’s a strong emotional basis to our rational thinking for whole bunches of reasons.
And so. Back to lesbians doing stupid things too.
Rosie is a lesbian of some celebrity — or is it increasing notoriety? — who is also a mother who is in the public eye. Her actions are spreading around the world and what we see reminds everyone that yes indeed, lesbians are people too who do and say stupid things. Some people will see her behaviour and say cool. Some people will see her behaviour and say oh. Some won’t know what to think and others won’t care and a few will get even more entrenched in whatever beliefs they hold about religion or homosexuals.
Sadly, we can’t legislate common sense, mindfulness, compassion, consideration or attitudes. We can legislate rights that influence behaviour. But before legislation comes a movement to change things. Our homosexual forefathers and foremothers dreamt up the just like you strategy and launched it, and for those of us with rights today, we’re living it, all assimilated and mainstreamed, being humans, being citizens of the world and just like other, straight world citizens, doing stupid things.