Tuesday, November 1, 2011

There's Still So Much Work to be Done

Sometimes, it all feels like too much.  This gay thing.

Decades ago, if I had an obsession--which I did--it was with not being gay.  I did everything I could to avoid it, to put it out of my mind, to ensure it didn't apply to me.  I wasn't gay.  I wasn't going to think about it in terms of me because everybody else thought I was gay, and I knew better.  I'd show them.  They thought they had me figured out, but they were dead wrong.

Was I in denial?  What do you think?  But I dealt with it the best way I could, including, in my early twenties, thinking of myself as asexual.  I decided I wouldn't be sexual at all.  I thought of myself as evolved:  everyone else needed someone, and everyone else needed to be sexual, but I didn't.  I was one step ahead of the masses.  Someday, if they were lucky, they'd catch up to me.

Fast forward to today, and all I do is think about being gay now.  I'm in my "all gay, all the time" phase because of what I do.  To write about all matters gay, I have to have it on my mind continuously--or, if not continuously, be ready, whenever necessary, to turn in that direction. When I'm not writing about being gay, I'm reading about it, in books and newspapers, on blogs and websites.

Not only am I a gay man, but my job is to be gay, fully and completely, and to keep informed about every aspect related to being gay in 2011, because my work is to write blog posts about being gay, and to help my readers deal with being gay themselves.  Don't get me wrong. Ninety-nine percent of the time I love what I do, but, sometimes, for better or worse, being gay feels like it's taken over my life.

Sometimes, I think about letting it go--not writing this blog anymore because of all the focus on being gay; surely there are other things I could write about.  Sometimes, I just want to be me and get on with living my life.  If doing that means getting involved in some aspect of being gay, so be it.  But, if I can go for long periods where I have no awareness of being gay, that would be good, too.

I mean, think about it.  I'm 52, out, partnered, and life is good.  I've never been happier or more settled with myself.  In the normal course of events, being gay isn't an issue for me.  So why, in my writing, do I keep bringing it up, as though it is?  Is being gay an issue, or does it necessarily become one because it's the focus in my reading, writing, and consciousness?  If I stop writing about it, will it go away?

And this is the answer I consistently come up with.  Just because I stop writing about it doesn't mean it ceases to be an issue; it just means I've chosen to stop being part of the ongoing conversation.  Be assured, for someone, somewhere in this world, being gay is an issue.  In fact, whether we're talking about Canada, a more liberal country, or Uganda, one of the most oppressed, being gay is an issue for someone.

There's still so much work to be done, and we need everyone on our team, gay and straight, to keep digging deeper, to keep agitating, and to keep the conversation going.  That's how, when I get down about writing this blog and wonder if I'm making a difference, I renew my focus and know in my mind and my heart that what I do here helps, if not today, then maybe tomorrow.  As I see it, I have a responsibility to play my part in any way I can.

Yes, there's still so much work to be done...
  • When teens continue to kill themselves because they're gay and bullied, there's work to be done.
  • When people still can't get married because they're gay, there's work to be done.
  • When gay people continue to hide in closets and live in fear and shame, there's work to be done.
  • When politicians continue to spew their ignorance and hate, there's work to be done.
  • When religious zealots continue to say the fate of all gay people is hell, there's work to be done.
  • When countries around the world continue to deprive gay people of their human rights, there's work to be done.
  • When some countries imprison people because they're gay, and even put them to death, there's work to be done.
  • When even one gay person is told the love he has for someone of the same gender is wrong, there's work to be done.
  • When parents prevent gay and lesbian alliances from being implemented at their local schools, there's work to be done.
  • When gay and lesbian people still have to face the shame and humiliation of coming out, instead of just being themselves, there's work to be done.
With all this work, and so much more, still left to be done, how can I not continue to write this blog, to play my part, to try to make a difference in whatever small way I can?  How can you, within your own sphere of influence, either as a gay or lesbian person, or as a gay and lesbian ally, not play your part?

We are all called to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Our challenge is to discover what that is, and to take it on with gusto and conviction.  What are you called to do?


  1. Such good points, Rick. I recently told someone that I'd decided this next phase of my life (I prefer not to think of it as the downhill side :) would be spent speaking up, because if you're part of the silent majority, you're part of the problem. And if you feel like you think about the business of being gay all the time, you'll laugh when I tell you my college-age daughter recently had to clarify that while her mum worked "at the gay pride centre" (which isn't where I volunteer, but that's what she always says) that, no, she didn't have two mothers...! It'd be nice to see more straight people taking up the fight, too, and then people won't assume the only people who care about gay rights are gays. I hope your straight readers are inspired to do little speaking up, too! Besides, can you honestly think of anything you could do that would be more important or meaningful?

  2. Sarah, you raise some wonderful points in your comment, too.

    I find as I get older, I'm a lot more fearless when it comes to expressing my opinions (my blog is a great example). For many years, I was a doormat, and anyone could get away with saying anything around me. I wouldn't have said a thing. I now know that's because my self-esteem was so low, and I didn't believe I had an opinion worthy of anyone's time or consideration.

    But not so much anymore. At some point, you have to be accountable. You can't just take up space on earth; you have to make that space count for something. And if that means speaking up--even if what you have to say goes against popular opinion--then so be it. That's the way it goes.

    Your point around straight people speaking up on behalf of gay and lesbian people is one we've talked about before. But, as I wrote in a past post, I believe it's critical to the latter getting the credibility and legitimacy we deserve. I think there's a test in this for straight people. If you think about it, the civil rights movement in the U.S. was forwarded considerably by the support African Americans received from Caucasian Americans.

    So it will be with gay and lesbian people. And I believe the character and quality (if that's the right word) of Caucasian people will be measured at some future time by the hand they played in helping their gay brothers and lesbian sisters. We're all interconnected, and we all need each other. That's why we're all different in some way--not to be judged, but to be supported. And to give all of us the opportunity to speak up, to fight a fight that may not be ours, and to show what they're made of. You get it; sadly, most don't. I hope that changes soon.

    Thanks for your comment and for helping me to think more deeply and contemplatively on this subject. I appreciate it.