This is my letter to the editor of the Northampton, Mass. “Daily Hampshire Gazette,” published on Aug. 14, 2010.
Since coming out of the closet 29 years ago, I’ve witnessed incredible legal gains and changes in public attitude, but I also see that many heterosexuals are still confused about the lives of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender individuals. In the Aug. 7-8 issue, Stephen Hartwell’s letter laments that the Gazette ignored important current news by devoting a recent front page to the reactions of local lesbian mothers and their teenagers to the film The Kids Are All Right. Hartwell says that the movie depicts the lesbian “lifestyle.” On the opposite page of this Gazette issue ran an article about the U.S. District Court judge who ruled that California’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The Associated Press author of this story, Lisa Leff, writes that same-sex marriage opponents appealing the ruling do not “plan to raise the specter of the judge’s sexual orientation.”
I’m glad to hear this, as the dictionary definition of specter is “ghost, apparition, or object of fear or dread.” A quick online search reveals that the phrase “raise the specter” has been used in recent media reports about child abuse, political disturbances, lawsuits and cancer. Judge Vaughn Walker’s sexual orientation – whatever it is – should not be a cause for alarm, nor should the orientation of any GLBTQ person, or heterosexual, for that matter. Those of us who are GLBTQ have lives, not lifestyles. The CEOs of BP, perhaps, can be said to have “lifestyles”; the rest of us are simply trying to live.
Why is it that when the mainstream media covers the lives of heterosexuals 99 days out of 100 (weekly wedding and anniversary announcements, to begin with), no one bats an eyelash, but the one front-page story about GLBTQ folks that’s unrelated to a ballot initiative or judicial decision inevitably elicits protests? Perhaps the protestors could walk in a GLBTQ person’s shoes for a month or two.