“The secret of the ‘gay agenda’ is to be loved and accepted … without having to change or be changed.” So what’s the fuss? My supportive niece Amber reposted this thought from Susan Cottrell, Freedhearts.org. We can count on Amber and Susan to be positive, affirming, and persistent. May their tribe increase.
However, I question whether there really is such a ting as a gay agenda. It is like “gay community” in that regard. These two terms are current. They are being used extensively by both those who are supportive and those who object to what they think of as the “gay agenda” and “gay community.”
The terms are handy. They are headlines to allude to a cluster of ideas that are real but abstract. As with such abstractions, they are accurate within their contexts. When ultra-right conservatives in Hungary or Houston say “gay agenda” they agree with one another that it is a bad thing that rots civilization as they want it to be. When it is mentioned by those in a Gay Pride event it refers to an agreeable set of goals.
“Gay community” is another helpful term as long as it is used by those who have defined the term and are in agreement. The dictionary says an abstraction describes a “general quality or characteristic, apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances.” There is such an entity as the gay community, in the abstract. It does not actually exist in any identifiable, universal way that includes all LGBTIAN+ people, basically because there is no such society. There are groups and they coalesce and dissolve, grow and change, are here and there. If you listen to individual stories, it becomes clear no aspect of community is applicable to all of them any of the time or to any of them all of the time.
Narratives are so helpful to get to what’s really real. I used to collect gay stories. Each person’s story, when I got enough of it, was so full of factors, forces, and features that it is unique. A compilation of scores of anecdotes and longer accounts showed stunningly that no two individuals had more than a few motives and characteristics in common.
I long for the time when sexual diversity is so well understood that it is no longer an issue of note. Creating the notion of a clear-cut sexual binary has been a disaster. It has devolved even farther into male supremacism / female subjection, and then into hierarchies and persecution. So far, we have failed to overcome this social deterioration.
But we are working on it. We have come a long way since Oscar Wilde was imprisoned, Turing was castrated, and riots erupted at Stonewall 53 years ago this week. The clearest indication we are making progress is the emergence of vigorous opposition. The work is getting somewhere. We are even making impacts upon national governments.
As we speak, the Thai parliament has before it 4 (count them, four) proposals advocating same-sex unions. On June 15 they passed the most comprehensive one called a “Marriage Equality Act” by a vote of 210 to 180. [The picture accompanying this article is of a group overjoyed when the news came from inside the Parliament building.] The other three bills would also recognize same-sex relationships (and that would be progress) but as somehow distinct from heterosexual marriages – the “standard” way to understand marriage up to now. We are waiting for the second and then the final reading of the act. Parliament could still reverse itself and reject all four. It won’t be over until it’s signed and posted in the Royal Gazette.
This week in Japan the courts began to spar about whether marriage must be “between both sexes,” (which means “heterosexual”). An Osaka court ruled that the Japanese Constitution upholds marriage between both sexes, and rejected a claim brought by 3 same-sex couples that being unable to marry was unconstitutional. A Sapporo court in 2021 ruled that failure to recognize same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. So now there are two court rulings in direct contradiction of one another. The Osaka court said that more public debate was needed. Opinion surveys say the public now favors same-sex marriage. The Osaka court ruling may slow down laws recognizing that fact.
This is how progress is made, case by case. Parliaments and courts make decisions after considering principles and politics. The abstract principle in question at the moment is about what a marriage is. But this is a social issue, as the Osaka court seems to have discerned. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in 2015 when public opinion became clearly in favor of it; a previous ruling in 2013 was that a national consensus had not yet developed. We can call this “political” but actual public attitudes are swayed by people becoming acquainted with one another. (Would that this happened all the time, but some families do fracture when confronted with gay members.) Stories matter if they are told and heard.
Meanwhile, I’ll agree with Amber and Susan that the gay agenda is no threat because it’s no different than everyone’s agenda, and I’m going to be there on July 3 when our big Chiang Mai gay community celebrates Pride 2022.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.