Music is so gay…an off-topic rant for Spirit Day
Last week, when I was in New York, I read a news story which gave me nightmares for three days. It’s the first time a news story has managed this since 9/11. A handful of aspiring gang members in the Bronx kidnapped a couple of men. The victims were tied up in a warehouse, beaten for hours, sodomized with a plunger, burned, and lord knows what else. Because they were gay.
The same day I learned this story, I watched as the news played a clip of Carl Palladino – a candidate to be Governor of New York – saying in a speech that the “option” of being gay was “not as valid” as being straight.
This news came in the wake of the news of a shocking six high-profile teen suicides which resulted from bullying. They were bullied because they were gay.
Believe it or not, until Barack Obama became our president, what those kids did in the Bronx would not have been considered a hate crime, because it was a crime against people who have been known to fall in love with people who aren’t the opposite sex. Not until last October was the government allowed to assist with investigations into hate crimes against LGBT people.
No matter how many times I consider that, it doesn’t make sense. But I’m glad we now have a president who made sure that got changed. (Yes, he has actually changed quite a few things, in lasting, positive ways.)
Still, when I see a politician or other high-profile person use derogatory words to describe the LGBT community, calling to repeal whatever small progress has been made toward equal rights, in order to win favor and votes, I wonder if they realize or even care the way their words trickle down to kids like those gang members, or those who bullied the others to death.
I don’t care what you believe, how you worship, or what your marriage dynamic is. I only care that you should have an opportunity to live a long, prosperous, peaceful life, and afford me the same. Should you wind up in a courtroom or hospital bed, I think you deserve the best, most fair consideration and care, and I’d hope you’d wish the same for me. That’s what human rights are. That’s what gay rights activists are actually really striving for.
One of these days I’m gonna stop my listening
Gonna raise my head up high.
One of these days I’m gonna raise up my glistening wings and fly.
But that day will have to wait for a while.
Baby I’m only society’s child.
When we’re older things may change,
But for now this is the way, they must remain.
Today, GLAAD, Facebook, MTV, and some other groups are joining together their huge visible voices and networks to declare that, not only is it okay to be who you are in America, but no matter what level of scrutiny your childhood falls under, it will get better. Being a big gaywad myself, I felt the need to comment.
But, since this is a website about music, I didn’t set out to spend my entire post talking about the rights I’d like to one day be granted, which most of you automatically get by virtue of the fact that you tend to – through no effort of your own – find yourself in love with the kind of person our current socio-political structure applauds.
All this to say, rather, that today seemed like a great day to revisit that Janis Ian song, and the whole point of “Society’s Child.” Yes, it was a song about racism, but it was even moreso a story about love…which is the only other thing gay rights activists are actually really striving for.
Speaking of Ian, she’s been out for quite a long time. As have k.d. lang, the Indigo Girls, Catie Curtis, Holly Near, and a number of other artists who have made tremendous contributions to this style of music, whatever it is. Whatever consolation that is to a young person somewhere, struggling with their own identity. Believe me, it does get better.
Tomorrow, I promise, I’ll return to the music.