Monday, July 29, 2013

The Most Positive Gay Things You'll See This Week

Pope Francis I
I'm torn. Do I write about the story that impacts LGBTQ people here in the U.S. or the the story that impacts LGBTQ people all over the world? I guess I have to talk about both, if I'm going to write about either. Let's start with the whole world, shall we? (Hey - go big or go home, right?)

On his flight back to Rome from Brazil, Pope Francis I gave an impromptu, jovial, no-holds-barred press conference for the reporters on board. And in answering one question, he moved the HRC (no, not the HRC) into the 21st Century. When a reporter asked what he would do if he found out a priest was gay, he responded "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can't marginalize these people." Of course, this is no way means that Francis thinks gay sex (the biggest hang-up most religious folks seem to have about gay people) is okay, but his answer to that question is probably the most progressive statement ever made by any Pope, ever. Historically, there have been married Popes; adulterous Popes; sadistic Popes and (in 2000-odd years), undoubtedly at least one gay Pope. I mean, come on. 265 men (and possibly 1 woman) have held the title. Statistically, at least one or more of them had to be gay.

Francis is proving himself to be even more "The People's Pope" than the much-beloved (and on the track to Sainthood) John Paul II. Smart, modern and accessible, Francis knows the Church is hurting. In South America, Catholics have been leaving the Church for evangelical congregations, while in the U.S. and Europe, they have been leaving because the Church has refused to evolve on issues like homosexuality, women's rights and birth control. Of course, Uncle P still views all religion as detrimental to progress and an affront to science, but that doesn't mean I hate religious people. I just wish they would wake up and smell reality. Francis seems to at least caught a whiff and that's terrific.

Tim Hardaway
And the other big LGBTQ news comes from retired NBA star Tim Hardaway, who in a 2007 interview said "I hate gay people... I'm homophobic." After spending time at Miami's YES Institute and seeing the way LGBTQ people have been abused, bullied and vilified, Hardaway had an epiphany of sorts. Earlier this month, he was the first person to sign a petition challenging Florida's marriage laws. 

"With what I said, people could think it's OK to throw rocks at them or bully them... I just wanted to make people understand that what I said wasn't cool. I wanted to make amends for it.'' Hardaway says he hasn't become a voice for Equality because he wants publicity (he rarely gives interviews). As a young man growing up in Chicago, he had a gay relative to whom he was apparently close. He says now that his comments were 'thoughtless.'

Wow! A little education goes a long way. And while my faith in Humanity hasn't been fully restored (at least while Vladimir Putin and Robert Mugabe are still spewing ignorance and hate), it has been elevated by the words and actions of two very influential people who have had a change of heart and mind. I still have issues with Pat Robertson, who yesterday said that Trans people aren't sinners, but gay people are (don't get me started about that old fossil), but it is amazing to see the tide turning so quickly and so dramatically. 

We still have a long way to go. Next month, 13 U.S. States will officially recognize same-sex marriage (Yay, Minnesota!). I suspect that Illinois; Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Hawaii and Virginia will be next with Colorado; New Mexico; Nevada and Ohio to follow.From there, it's just a matter of time before America finally embraces everything for which our Constitution stands.

Last week, Queen Elizabeth II signed her approval of Marriage Equality in the UK. New Zealand is likely to be the next country which fully embraces Equality, with Australia probably soon to follow. I now have real hope that before I leave this world, it will be changed for the better in so many ways.

The Roger Waters' song embedded below may be about the end of the Cold War, but I can't help but think it applies here (and the animation by my favorite artist certainly doesn't hurt):

More, anon.

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