Friday, June 19, 2009

Why Gay Rights Matter To You

Well, here we are again - it's been another three months and I'm finally sitting down to write another blog entry. Every time, I promise myself that I'm not going to leave such a big gap between posts but then life gets in the way, and . . . voila, there I am - not writing! I can't imagine anybody is racing to their computer each day to see if I've posted something scintillating, but I do enjoy hearing from the few people who pass by and take the time to leave comments. So once again, three months on and I promise to endeavour to write more routinely. Perhaps after this post I won't have the thoughts and passions that thinking about writing this essay has weighed on me the past months, and I'll be more apt to write trivial, less thought provoking and more fun topics.

As I said, I have been thinking about writing this post for a long while now, but have found myself too angry to write in my clear head about it. In fact, I can tell you right now that this will certainly not be my most eloquent entry, but I feel the need to post nonetheless. The reason for my anger is the vitriol and invective spewed as of late, in the States in particular, on the subject of Gay Rights. I am by no means an expert on this subject, but it means so much to me because I have many gay friends, as well as a few people I am honored to call friends within the transgendered community. A woman who was very influential in my young life as an actor and whom I often refer to as my second mother is in a very long term same-sex relationship. So to are many of the wonderful people who shaped what kind of actor, and by extension, what kind of person I am, growing up in the theatre. These people are very important to me and I love them all, and let me be very clear to anyone who would do them harm for the way they live their lives: you hurt the people I love, and I will hurt you!

I am straight, not that that matters, but I mention it for one reason: as a counterpoint to the idiotic voices who bleat on that gay people teaching our children or raising their own will somehow turn them gay. I started acting when I was nine years old, which means I have been taught by people who live their lives as gay men and women since I was nine. I'm now 35. This means that after 24 years of close relationships with these wonderful folks I'm still the same person I was born to be. I am married and have two children. My wife and I would like more. My children have been around my gay friends and my wife's gay friends since they were born, the same way they're around our straight friends, and you know what? They question of everyone's sexuality hasn't come up! Because it doesn't, does it? In your day to day life, unless you're ridiculously crass, your sexual life doesn't enter into how you do your job, it doesn't affect how you order coffee, it doesn't make a difference to how you breathe. You are a human being. We all are.

I truly, TRULY, believe that love is such a hard enough commodity to come by in this world that no-one should have the right to tell you who to love. Gay or straight, two grown, consenting people should be able to love whomever their heart and soul tells them to love. People who have committed to spending their lives together - their one life on this Earth - should be able to hold one another's hand when they pass. They should be able to decide who their benefits go to, who their common children are raised by. Two grown, consenting people should be treated like Adults. The irrational fear of so many is so childish that it honestly boggles my mind. I just don't get it. Pure and simple. I mean, I simply don't see how it affects anyone outside of the relationship. I understand that there is a religious component to this hateful stance, but I've got to tell you - I grew up going to church. I don't buy this argument. I've said it before and I will say it again: homosexuality is mentioned only twice in this allegorical tome. Thou shalt not kill / steal / lie / covet etc. are COMMANDMENTS and no-one is protesting lying, or mounting propositions in California to ban coveting!

Okay, so I promised to tell you why Gay Rights matter to you, and I'll tell you. These rights should matter to you simply because they are rights, human rights. Why should anyone have to march to ask people to stop hurting them? Why should people have to fight governments to be allowed to file a common tax return? Why should people have to fight for respect and freedom in this day and age, and in a country as great as the US? I will say right now that the USA is better than hate, it's better than narrow-mindedness, and it's better than Proposition 8. I cannot imagine being barred from having my wife at my side when I slip into the great beyond, or Heaven forbid - vice-versa. My wife is my life, and one of the best days of my life was becoming her husband. Why anyone would want to stand in the way of that happiness for others in a marriage that has literally zero impact on their lives escapes me. In a society where marriage numbers are dropping, I find it beautiful and reassuring that so many are willing to fight so hard to enter into the bonds of something that gives me so much strength. Far from undermining traditional marriage, I think gay marriage strengthens a time honored institution because it speaks to humans' quest for meaning and love in a world that feels so devoid of it.

As to the human rights component I ask: perhaps it's gay marriage and gay rights today, but what if it's something that affects you tomorrow? What if the pendulum continues to swing and States start introducing Propositions banning cigarettes? Probably a good thing, they cause irreparable harm and cost the tax payer millions. What about banning alcohol? Fine, I don't drink so it doesn't affect me. How about a Proposition requiring people to submit to DNA sampling? Curfews? Modest dress? It is about your rights as a human being living out your one life in a country overflowing with wealth and freedom. I go on a lot about the idea of only having one life to live and the fear of wasting it because of my own experiences, but the concept is a solid one: you have one opportunity to live to the fullest, and any missed chances stay that way, missed. There is a great line in an Anglican creed that reads: "I confess that I have sinned by what I have done, and by what I have left undone." We all deserve the chance to not miss any chances. By that same token, to stand by and do nothing as others suffer is as great a sin as inflicting the suffering itself. I see my friends suffer. Not just because they are being denied something as basic as marriage, or because of the efforts expended fighting injustice, but because they are being told daily that they aren't equal to the man or woman standing beside them. They have been told this all their lives, and not only by random, hateful people holding up signs, but sometimes by their own families and former friends. It is embarrassing as a society to see this in the mirror we hold up to it.

I don't live my life as a gay man, but I can't imagine that's it's any different that the one I live with my wife, but as such I can't speak to the intricacies with any authority. I can only write this as an interested and concerned outsider. However I can certainly hold forth on the issues of rights, and I have. I feel that you're born the way you're meant to be born. What gets you going in the bedroom doesn't define you outside of it. I'm happy to see that the people who have been fighting for so long have so much more support today, and I believe that hate and narrow-mindedness are dying out with each successive generation. Eventually we'll get to a place where we look back and are shocked by how long it took for equality to be truly bestowed on this group of people, the same way we are to look back on the Suffragette movement and the Civil Rights movement.

As I said, I have two young children and am hoping for more. I can tell you that if any of my babies tell me some day that they are gay, I will take them in my arms, hug them as tightly as I can, and tell them how proud of them I am that they want to live their life as the are made. And if anyone hurts my little ones for that, I will hurt those people back.

14 comments:

Inuneko said...

Quite the opposite, I felt your entry was very eloquent. I also feel the same way about gay rights. Why on earth do people feel the need to want to ban gay marriage when it has nothing to do with them, it's not hurting them in the least. What goes on in someone's bedroom stays there, and it doesn't effect how people do their jobs or who they are.

Love is a beautiful thing, whether it's between a man and a woman or same sex partners. We as a whole should be happy for those who have found their soul-mates, not condemning them.

Matt said...

Well said, Richard. I completely agree. However, I think it's going to take society a very long time to view homosexuals in a positive light, mainly because of the conservative spectrum's promotion of religious fascism. "If you aren't straight, white, middle-class, and a Republican, then God hates you and you're going straight to Hell." That statement sums up most of the views of "ignorant Christians", or people who think that God hates everybody except them. Being a Christian, it was very difficult for me to reconcile my religious beliefs with my other beliefs. But then I came to a conclusion: Men can say whatever they want about God, but that doesn't make it true. In my opinion, God does not hate anybody. Hate and intolerance are human emotions.

Well, enough with the religious stuff. Time for politics! Historically, marriage has been a religious institution. That being said, if a church is willing to marry a gay couple, then that couple has every right to live married without intervention from the government. It is not the government's job (both on the state and federal level) to intervene in civil affairs, especially when it involves relationships. Anyway, if a gay couple wishes to be married outside of a church, they can get a civil union. The system needs to be repaired to give civil unions the same exact rights as marriage. And with that, I digress.

joanna h. said...

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!

i'm am still to this day completely BAFFLED. i'm a lesbian and damn right PROUD, but why can't i have the same rights as everyone else? why can't i express my love just like everyone else even if it is with the same gender? Everyone should have equal rights even if you are GLBT.

it's confusing and i'm not gonna lie, i've had some hardship in my journey when i first came out. i've lost friends who honestly couldn't accept me for who i am. i am however very very lucky to have loving and understanding parents. for serious, i'm very fortunate. i don't know what i'd do without my mom and dad. i already know the rest of large family would not approve and it STILL sucks to keep it a secret to them, but i have to, sadly.

i'm glad to hear that you accept anyone and even your children if it ever came to it. and always stick by them no matter what.

but for now, i'm gonna keep fighting for my rights. i'm excited that next week is the gay pride parade in chicago. we just have to keep going, i guess.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Richard, one thank you for your post supernatural on gays. I militate even in an association (Association of the gays and lesbian parents).
I have numerous friends’ gays and I always believed in them and my confidence has never failed.
I am heterosexual, and I believe in their value, their foundation, their Amur. The important it is to love and to live completely their life as we wish it.
Recognize their parent’s rights, accept the marriage, in spite of the biblical principles...
I passed on to a friend your post; she read it with interest and said to me having read it «it is a guy indeed, kind and respectful of the people".
I have never doubted it according to the reading of all your posts.
Without know you personally (what of what I regret), I respect you for your values, your humanism and your kindness.
Thanks to you and to Becky.

Sandrine

Nancy said...

I'm reminded of the quote by the German pastor about the evident tacit permission of people allowing Nazi rule, which was something like "First they came for the Communists but I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the unionists but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a unionist. Then they came for the Jews but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me, but there was no one left to speak up for me." I never understood how anyone's sexuality, or politics, or religion was anyone's business except to someone who expressed an interest.

Anonymous said...

This is in no means made to offend or anything.
I liked and disliked this blog. I thought what was said was deep and very heart filled. Being in one of those religions that state homosexuals are evil and go straight to hell. I find it to be a big farce! It is said in the Bible(I cannot remember where) that God loves everyone, not God loves everyone but gays and Lesbians. So what are all these over religious fanatic getting all worked up about. I am very neutral when it comes to this kind of thing. I do believe that if they love each other, they should have the right to marry. This is what I do like about your blog. The one thing I couldn't stand reading was you badgering all those opposed and talking about hurting whoever hurts them. I can see your point, if someone I loved was getting hurt like that I would probably do the same. But saying it will not make the problem go away! You were talking about how if one of your kids had told you that they were gay, you would give them a big hug and still love them no matter what what. Well just think of the worst case scenario, what if one of your kids had told you that they hate Gays?(which probably most likely wouldn't happen because from the sounds of things, both you and your wife share the same opinion on this matter)
Well I have said my piece :)

Richard Cox said...

First off, I would like to thank everyone for their comments, I love hearing from people on the subjects of my posts - keep them coming!

However, I must say I am at a loss as to how to respond to the last comment. I applaud you for your position on gay marriage and that you feel that people should be allowed to marry and love who they love. I am, however, unsure as to how I am "badgering" people who don't agree. I am only voicing my opinion, not following them into their homes yelling at them.

Secondly, I am well aware that hurting people who hurt those I love may not change the world, but you know what? Maybe if these "people" who are guilty of gay bashing and assault and other such crimes received a healthy dose of that which they dole out, it might not be such a bad thing.

Lastly, if my children ever came home and told me they "hate gays" I would deal with them the same way I would deal were they to tell me they hated any group of people: with a very sharp rebuke and a lesson in humanity. Hatred is an irrational and unfounded violent emotion born of ignorance and stupidity and will never be tolerated in my home. People are people are people. Any human being would do well to walk a mile in another human's shoes and learn that.

You are always entitled to your opinion and as I said I always love to hear from folks, even when their opinions don't necessarily align with my own. Thanks for posting.

Andrew said...

hi. i would like to talk about rights please do not take this to offense. I am all for equality and believe Homosexuals are a human as heterosexuals. and saying they cant marry is a bad thing. but i am sad to say. it isn't a right but a privilege.

A right is something that a race is entitled to no mater what. but most people confuse what is a right and what is a privilege. a privilege is a law that apply to the individual. many people assume mirage is a right because everyone can do it. but it isn't. there is one rights to this world and that is the right to live.

many people take things for granted because this stuff is handed down to them and they can expect it. in Canada, U.S.,U.K. they can all marry. but what about countries that are in Africa, or people that are stuck living on the streets. they cant marry. people that live on the streets earn no money. and marriage as i have seen costs money. same can be said with most (not all but most) of the people in Africa (personally i don't know if they can marry period).

Anyways, I am not here to point out how bad someone is or the fact that gays should not marry (which i think they should). But, if my definition for rights is true. then we gotta think about others as well. we should have the right to have food, Have shelter, live a life of choice, Equality among the races. but, those are privileges that can be removed with just a pass of a bill. thous making them privileges. not saying they would just saying they could.

as many people say "this is a free country" which means we get so much privileges and choices. that's what makes a great country in my opinion.

Anyways just to let you know. i know a few gays my sister being one of them and I told her "live the life you wanted not what others want" I am going to say that to everyone. if the gays never marry. or if its illegal for marriage period. that will never change the way you feel. if it does mater so much to be married and its illegal. then why not do it with your friends being the pasture instead of a certified one and have a marriage unknown by the government

From a dear fan of your voice acting
Andrew

Nathanaƫlle said...

Always a fan since the adventures of the black stallion.
I discovered this tv serie when I was 12 or so.
I'm french (but I now live in Germany).
Love what you say, what you do even if I think we don't get to see you enough on french tv.
Keep going. You rock !!!!

Nathanaƫlle.

Sessy said...

This is an Awesome post. I am so sorry that I did not find this blog sooner. I have loved you as the many anime voices that you did but never really thought about who was behind them and then to find out that you are so utterly cool as hell! This post was really beautiful and heart felt. As a gay man I just wanted to say, thanks for writing this. You are so cool, even if you are straight lol.

Lucky said...

First let me say, Richard, you are an awesome actor. I'm a 34 year old Transgender, FtM, and dude, I loved your Black Stallion series. I own the dvds.

I agree with you all the way about the GLBT rights. I have had a lot of issues here in Arizona with the medical coverage. Its not that they don't cover anything, they just don't cover what matters, not even partially. Things like surgeries, therapy, psychologists, and hormones. It seems like they're doing everything they can to make living impossible for GLBT's, and I don't see where any of this is fair.

Tristan Heintzelman said...

I do not disagree or agree with this post. However, I do tend to lean towards agreeing with it. I am scientific, and I am also religious. An odd combination, I might add. But about gay rights, I must say, if we were intended to love everyone the same way, then we would all be compatible with each other. Women could have babies with women, men could have babies with men. Science and the laws of nature intended man to be with woman.

That said, I am not against gays like many religious people are. I think that those who are lucky enough to find someone they care for, and wish to marry them, they should.

When I look at a gay person, I think of many possible things. One, they could have a hormonal imbalance that leaves them helpless to the gender they are attracted to. Something psychologically could be wrong with them. Or they could just be made like that. People often forget, the current Bible is what it is because a council decided what books would be allowed into the Bible. The Bible has went through several changes through the years, including scriptures supposedly hidden by the Catholic Church. So who is to say that "Man shall not lay with man" bit was originally in the bible in the first place?

I do not consider myself heterosexual or homosexual. Honestly, I am not attracted to either of the sexes.

The Bible also asks not to judge others. So why should I? IF homosexuality is truly a sin, how is it any different from the sins that I commit myself? I'd be a judgmental hypocrite. The Bible also says that all sins are the same (excluding the Unforgivable Sin [Makes it sound like the Forbidden Curses of Harry Potter, does it not?]) and if all sins are the same, and all sins are forgivable, then why not allow people to love who they choose?

All I know is, we were put on this Earth for a reason. As long as you fulfill that reason of existence... then what does it truly matter how we get there? What does it matter who we love?

I don't have all of the answers. Nor do I think I will ever have all of the answers. I say as long as we don't go about things in a violent, destructive matter, we should be who we are. But, being who we are could cost us our very soul in an eternity in hell. So we should always think twice about our actions, and only act according to what we know for certain.

HannahDJA said...

When it comes down to it, homosexuals are human beings just like the rest of us. They breath, they sleep, they poop, and scratch their asses like every other person on this earth, and the matter of their sexual preference should NOT matter, and I feel sorry for any poor soul who doesn't see it that way.

When you break it down and take away the fact that a homosexual is a homosexual, what are you left with? A person with pink skin and red insides, who gets up and goes to work to feed themselves and their family. There is no difference there. They are people. Human beings, and should be as equal to us as other races and cultures are.

Society is so warped around what a bunch of butt-holes decided to make the epitome of beauty, perfection, and what they think is right, that we as individuals are starting to loose ourselves in the confusion. And I refuse to bring religion into such a conversation because everybody who does have a problem with homosexuals blames it on the devil for twisting 'the way things should be'. If things were meant to be the way they were, they would, but they aren't, so they're not. But it doesn't matter! Things are how they are, and I'm sad to share the same world as so many ignorant human beings.

I love the article, and even though it was posted a while ago, I felt the need to vent a bit. (Sorry for tarnishing your blog, heehee.) I hope you stay down to earth and amazing for the rest of your long, long life, Richard. :)

All the love from Calgary, Alberta!
-Hannah.
A fan, and waiting-for-that-very-first-you-got-the-role-call voice actor! <3

iname said...

I completely agree with you,if it has nothing to do with you or your wellfare why disagree,opose or hate for that matter...but that goes back to what religeon you are. me personally god made every single one of us and gave us free minds to judge,love,hate,care ect..but that doesnt mean you can flaunt your opinions in peoples faces and judge... because of that this is where we stand in our world.
I'm recently in a tight spot with the police and princible because of this situation,well not me but my bestest friend whos like my sister,its just a really long and complicated story.... but it revolves around this situation greatly and i can only hope theirs light in the end of this situation.
Besides that, really i don't think this situation is ever really get resolved theres just so much hate in this world its nearly impossible... not looking at legal force of course.