BY RAO GARIMELLA
The other day I was hanging out at Ashley pond watching the band playing music while the singer crooned and the crowd milling around on the lawn when something caught my eye. A couple I had seen previously at work, was hanging out with some other friends. One of them was absent-mindedly rubbing the other’s back with one hand while chatting animatedly. After a bit, the other person reached over and with a quick motion tousled the first person’s hair. They had an easy manner about them and clearly cared deeply about each other, like folks who have been together a long time. So sweet, I thought, this is love. It was one of those moments that makes one joyous about the human bond! Except, the love of these two men and many couples like them is viewed with suspicion or worse, a visceral hatred around the world.
Why, I mused, don’t we see this interaction and imagine a million other things these couples do – drive into work and kiss goodbye, make coffee for the other, yell at each other for being messy, take their nephew to baseball practice, argue and not talk to each for a week, attend a concert together, miss their spouse while they are away on a trip?
Why is it that our mind fixates only on their life in the bedroom or titillating images the media highlights from pride festivals or gay bars?
Why do we go after queer couples for their private lives but not straight couples for the same practices?
Why do we label them as deviants while giving Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky, Jeffrey Epstein, Roman Polanski, Larry Nassar the benefit of the doubt and due process?
Why is it that we are more worried about a sober trans person taking hormones than a young teenager binge drinking and driving?
Why is it that we are happy to keep kids with delinquent and abusive parents while we deny a gay couple or a single trans person the opportunity to take in an abandoned child and love them to the moon?
Why is it that we cannot respect someone’s choice of pronoun while we gladly call people Your Excellency, Your Honor or Megan Thee Stallion or any number of grandiose names and titles?
Why is it that we support a cis-woman getting a boob job to feel more womanly but feel revulsion towards a trans-woman doing the same?
Queer people are not hanging out near our children’s school seeking to lure them for abuse (more than likely, straight and deviant uncle Bob is – https://www.zeroabuseproject.org/victim-assistance/jwrc/keep-kids-safe/sexuality-of-offenders/). Nor are they publishing books and forcing our children to read those books in order to convert our children to be transgender. They are simply recounting their experience as humans. They’re screaming their normalcy to all that will hear them, shouting out, “We just want to cook together, walk our dog, sit next to each other eating ice cream just like the rest of the world, nothing more, nothing less. Only we want to do those things with a consenting adult partner who doesn’t match your expectations of normalcy. This is our love and it looks just like yours. Nothing to see, nothing to do, ignore us, let us be.” If they speak out, it is because they want others with similar feelings to know their normalcy and ordinariness that society somehow made extraordinary. Just as parents and teachers educate children that it’s ok to be born with red hair or develop pimples or have hairy legs or hairless arms, they would like schools to educate children that it’s ok to develop romantic feelings towards peers that are different from the majority and that they should not suffer, or worse, kill themselves, because they see it as a sign of deviancy or mental illness.
Can we do that – let good, caring people, notwithstanding their straightness or queerness, just be, and take our crusades to those that would neglect or hurt people and the world around them instead? And if our mind starts drifting to queer peoples’ private lives, can we stop and shift our mind to one man tousling another man’s hair and think, “Cute, this is love…?”