I was a teenager in the 70's which is when a lot of issues related to gay rights began to be raised. Once I was old enough to understand the issues, I don't remember having any questions or doubts. It just made perfect sense to me that people should be with the people they loved, regardless of the orientation. One of my dearest friends from high school was gay, though he didn't come out to me till some time later. I don't think it would have mattered if he had though. Later in college, I studied theatre, Although the stereotype isn't entirely true, I certainly made a lot of gay and lesbian friends. By the end of my college years the AIDS crisis had begun to emerge. (Took me 10 years to get my BFA. A different long story.) Its effect was both embattling and empowering. I'm proud this is one issue that I was way ahead of the curve on.
I have observed that with many controversial issues, it often seems that the most poisonous statements come from a minority who don't seem to realize that the majority has passed them by. Its not the first time that has happened in this country, of course.
Monday night, when #jasoncollins was trending all over twitter, a few tweets caught my eye. In one case someone had commented to Keith Olberman that everyone has a right to their opinion. His response stuck with me. Yes, he said, everyone has an opinion. Just like Dixie Walker had an opinion. Sixty years from now do you want to be Dixie Walker or Pee Wee Reese?
For those who aren't baseball fans or didn't see the movie 42, a quick summary: When Jackie Robinson broke into the big leagues, not everyone was welcoming (to say the least). Dixie Walker was a member of the Dodgers who tried to organize a petition to keep Robinson off the team. He was soon traded. Pee Wee Reese, even though they were initially competing for the same position, publicly supported Robinson, going so far as to stand beside him on with his arm over Robinson's shoulder when he was booed in Cincinnati. He didn't have to do this. The stands moreover, were filled with fans from his native Kentucky. But he felt it was the right thing to do. He has gone down in sports history, as the gold standard for a person in his position: a great player, but a greater person.
If you discuss gay rights with younger persons, high school or college age let's say, you will find that this is a non issue to most of them, much as the race of our classmates and friends was a non issue to many people of my generation. They are astounded that anyone has a problem at all, I am sure my grandchildren will be appalled by homophobic attitudes in the way that persons of my times are appalled (I hope we're all appalled) by racism and anti Semitic slurs . I hope they know that I was never one of those people, and that I raised their parents not to be also.
At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, who do I want to be? And the end of your life, what sort of person do you wish to be remembered as?