David Bruce: Anecdotes About Homosexuals

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Pratibha Parmar, the director of Nina’s Heavenly Delights and other movies, finds her content in subjects such as lesbians, women and South Asians. She has a happy relationship with her partner, and her movie Nina’s Heavenly Delights tells a positive lesbian love story. She says, “In my own life I have a very happy, full relationship with my partner. I’ve had that for many years, and I know many other lesbians who do, so why do we always have to be portrayed as psychos or dysfunctional women? Why [are we not portrayed] just like anyone else? We fall in love and yeah, we go through our struggles, but also we have a potential to live happily ever after.” By showing positive portrayals of lesbians, Nina’s Heavenly Delights reflects reality. For example, in the summer of 2006, Ms. Parmar and her partner attended a civil partnership ceremony for two lesbians they know. She says, “The two women were both Indian, and they’d had their outfits made and embroidered in India. Both their families were there, their uncles and their aunts and their mums and dads and their nephews, kids running around. It was like a typical Indian wedding except that there were two brides. Now that is progress. That is change. So my film [Nina’s Heavenly Delights] isn’t just complete fantasy; things like that do happen.”

NBC News Washington correspondent John Yang is highly respected, very traveled, and completely gay. He could pass as straight, but he chooses not to, saying, “There are certain things about myself that are immutable, and some of them are obvious. I’m Asian. I mean, anyone who sees me on the air or hears my last name knows that. And in a way, I felt that I can’t pass as not being Asian, so why should I pass as being straight?” Many conservative politicians really don’t care if someone is gay, although you may not be able to tell that from their public pronouncements. After a conservative Republican senator (unfortunately, not named) read an article in which Mr. Yang’s sexual orientation was mentioned, he called Mr. Yang and said, “John, I saw that thing about you in the magazine. I just want to tell you it doesn’t make any difference to me. You’re still the best damned reporter I’ve ever dealt with.” The senator then asked, “I haven’t said anything wrong, have I?” Mr. Yang replied, “No, Senator. You said just the right thing.”

The TV series Xena: Warrior Princess boasted not one, but two, lesbian icons. Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Renee O’Connor (Gabrielle) enjoyed a relationship with a serious lesbian subtext. Attending a convention of Xena fans, Ms. Lawless appeared and informed the crowd that Xena had recently been voted the number-two most-loved lesbian icon in the world. She then asked, “Would you like to meet number one?” No fools, the crowd—mostly composed of lesbians—screamed yes, and Ms. O’Connor walked on stage—to more screams. Of course, both Ms. Lawless and Ms. O’Connor have male fans. After Ms. O’Connor’s character was voted the number-one most-loved lesbian icon in the world, she posted a message on the WWW thanking all of her female fans for voting for her. A number of male fans wrote back, posting messages that said, “’Wait a minute, we voted for you, too!”

On June 1, 2007, William Sledd (of youtube.com “Ask a Gay Man” fame) posted a video on youtube.com to celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. As part of the celebration, he asked other gays and lesbians to post videos on youtube.com to tell other people that they are proud—and in some cases to come out of the closet. (When Mr. Sledd told his friends in high school that he was gay, their reaction was, “We know.”) His video resulted in an outpouring of videos from gays and lesbians—and from their straight supporters. One lesbian posted a video response in which she spoke about coming out—at age 12—to her mother. Her mother was OK with it and told her, “I still love you.” For a while, the 12-year-old was unaware that homophobia existed in this world. As an adult woman, she says today, “How wonderful is that!”

Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow decided to come out of the closet in a very public way when she was a student at Stanford. In every bathroom in her residence hall, she posted signs announcing that she was a lesbian—by the end of 24 hours everyone in her residence hall knew her sexual orientation. The school newspaper even published an article saying that she was one of the only two out lesbians in the freshman class. Ms. Maddow says, “Funnily enough, only one other person was out, and she was not one of the many girls I was sleeping with.”

Like heterosexual couples, gay couples have stories about how they got engaged. In 2004, on New Year’s Eve, Amber and Carol were playing Trivial Pursuit with two friends. When the clock struck midnight, Carol knelt and tried to propose—she tried because in the middle of the proposal, Amber yelled, “You’re doing it now? It’s happening now?” Yes, it was happening, and yes, Amber said yes. Today, Amber and Carol share the last name of Dennis after getting married on July 4, 2006.

Among the dumb beliefs many people have held about gays and lesbians (about as dumb as the belief in the secret handshake) is that gays and lesbians wear green on Thursdays, aka Fairy Day. In the 1960s, this belief amused Nancy Garden, the future author of the lesbian love story Annie on My Mind (it has a happy ending!). She wore green every day she attended school because her school uniform was green.

The first National Coming Out Day for homosexuals was held on October 11, 1988. This day was chosen because October 11 was the date on which the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt was first shown, and because it is the birthday of Eleanor Roosevelt, a champion of human rights for all.

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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