It sure is easy to get dismayed here in Dixie land. After all, we’re surrounded by churches on every corner that would rather see us exterminated than converted. Sure, that sounds harsh, but even a casual observer of modern fundamentalist religion (it’s clearly not limited to Christianity) reveals complete disgust and disdain for anything GLBT.

The phrase “militant homosexual” has been a buzz word for the religious Reich for several years now, and it’s only going to get worse. It still amuses me how people who simply want to live their lives without harassment or discrimination are suddenly ‘militant.’ Now there are ‘activist judges.’ Never mind the fact that most of those ‘activists’ were nominated by conservative Republican administrations.

The idea of gay-anything will get people up in arms faster than a chipmunk running up the legs of a church lady on the front pew. Whether it be the Gay Games in Chicago or Ford’s very clear endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, the right wing has been flapping like Chicken Little in heat. The sky is falling!

Or not.

Let’s take a step back and see what’s really going on. Gay marriage is a reality. Every province in Canada not only recognizes same-sex marriages, but celebrates them. Same with Spain and several other countries. Hell, there’s even gay marriages here in the good ole U.S. of A. Massachusetts has had legal gay marriage for more than a year now, and Chicken Little still has her ass feathers in the air waiting for the sky to fall.

But there’s more. Years ago, someone like Fred Phelps would have been widely embraced in the “Christian” community, but not anymore. In fact, one ultra-conservative group recently accused Mr. Phelps of being a ‘gay plant.’ That must really suck for him. “He’s so bigoted,” they might say, “he MUST be gay!” Phelps has become nothing more than a figurehead of hate that even the Southern Baptist Convention shuns.

Yes, there has been progress. Bigotry is recognized for the ugliness that it is. We are gaining ground throughout the country among the moms and pops who will say, “Oh, he’s just that way.” Even Fox News has reported on recent studies that have indicated gay genes.

Those who would pretend we don’t exist are now realizing that we’re all over the place. And as a result, they’re circling their wagons to draw in the troops. We’ve seen decades of progress where we were the laughingstock of the country. Now, some of us are doing the laughing. But before we let out that next guffaw, let’s take a few minutes and realize that all we’ve done is back a wounded dog into a corner. And if we’re not careful, he’ll bite. Hard.

Let’s back up and realize that our greatest assets are the ones we take for granted… our friends. Our coworkers. They are the ones who know us best. As we face the next year and all the political games that it will bring, let’s remember that we’ll never win equality by taking away someone else’s. Yes, we disagree with the right wing about sexuality. But we must agree that they have a right to be wrong.

We all have family members and “friends” that have written us off because of our sexual orientation. They insist that it was a lifestyle choice, and that we’re damned to someplace really hot. We can’t let them define us. We can’t let bigotry, ignorance, fear, and hate define us. We are defined by who we are, not who we love or have sex with. I wonder what would happen if we started living that way?

No, the world hasn’t ended. Nor has our fight for equality. As we fix our eyes on that prize, we must not allow ourselves to be distracted by battles we can’t win. And as we press on, we’ll start playing Dixie with a little bit of a pink twang.

David W. Shelton    

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