I HAVE TRIED TWICE now to write a column about Anita Bryant and what amounts to her antihomosexual crusade - how she is wrong and homosexuals are right and all of us would be better off if she sould shut up and stick to pushing orange juice. Both times, though, it didn't work and the reason for that, I think, is that I was being less than honest with myself - not acknowledging that my logic and my emotions are in conflict. In my head, I'm anto-Bryant. In my heart, I'm not so sure.
This became clear to me the other night when I interrupted my writing to put my son to bed. My head was full of thoughts of Bryant and homosexuality and that sort tof thing when my son asked a perfectly logical question: Why can't boys wear skirts? I clutched. I forze, and what I wanted to say right off, but didn't was something like "you ever put on a skirt and I'll break your neck."
The more I thought about this incident, the more I concluded that I am probably typical of lots of people. I can only take homosexuals and their arguments so far before it sticks in my craw. Logic will carry me only so far before it runs into something I guess you would have to call emotion - a bottom lime cry in which I say, a la Bryant, that I beleiveand that's all there is to it, thank you. Some peoplele might say that I must feel threatened, maybe unsure of my own masculinity. Maybe there is something to that - I don't know. All I know is that sometimes my liberal tolerance feels a bit heavy around the shoulders - a monkeyon my back.
A while back, for instance, I talked to a psychiatrist about a man who's been coming to work at the Smithsonian Institution dressed as a woman. I disapproved of that, and I must have said something about normal or healty or some such thing because pretty soon the questions started coming at me: What did I mean by normal? What did I mean by healty? Who was the man hurting? Does the way he dresses have anything to do with his ability to do his work? Was he better off now than before? Any why, as long as we're asking questions, was I so hostiles? In my mind a bugle sounded retreat. I kept backing off, sauing yes, yes,or no, no, until by the I had hung up the phone itwas clear that the man was doing the right thing for him and that I, wouldn't you know, was the one with the problem. I did not write the column.
Something like that has happened to many of us and we have learned the hard way that we get beat if we attempt to prove intellectually that the heterosexual way is the right way and that the family really is the way handicap and that us to live. We work under a handicap and that is that we know too much. One of the things we know, for instances, is that we know next to nothing about homosexuality - what causes it and whether (for what of a better word) it can be transmitted. We know, too, that the old simplicities are gone and that even nature can be as confused as we are when it comes to sexual identification. There is a doctor in Baltimore, for instance, who does for infants born on the sexual fence what only nature is supposed to do - choose the sex.
The result is that we sit silent when homosexuals talk of marriage or when they mention the adoption of children or when they dare you to somehow come up with a single reason why their lifestyle is not just as valid as yours. We have always lose and then we go away, as I did after that conversation with the psychiatrist, nodding intellectual agreement but saying no with all our emotions. You get the feeling that a lot of people are feeling this way and that they want to say what George Will said recently in a Newsweek column - "Enough."
All this is no excuse for what amounts to an intellectual program against homosexuals - a license for the sort of hateful language being employed by Bryant and other who seems to feel that as long as they quote the Bible they will be excused their date. Already the wraps seem to be coming off common good manners and someone has declared a field day on logic. Somehow, homosexuals are being asked to take it on the chin for pornography and other manifestations of "permissiveness" and somehow homosexuals are to be feared or stopped or discriminated against because they will "flaunt" their lifestyle before school children. There is panic in the air.
What gets lost in all this rhetoric and yelling is the fact that the Dade County ordinance that triggered this contoversy simply bars discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of what the law calls, "affectional or sexual preferences." Qurrel with those terms if you want to, but not with the thrust of the law. It is what used to be called a civil rights measure and it already is in effect in something like 40 cities.
So now this is the third time I'm writing about this and I have to acknowledge that I, too, am a bit confused and I, too, would like to yell "enough already." But I do not want to say enough when it comes rights o r whatever you want to call it.I'm not much at citing the Bible so I will leave it to Bryant to tell you what the scriptures say about homosexuality.
I prefer the part about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.