Tom McGeveran names himself a “shmomosexual” and frets over the work of the Fab Five becoming more prominent in public consciousness than that of the supreme nine.
The stories of chiseled hotties on Boy Meets Boy labor under the weight of a mediocre production which drowns its audience in repetitive pathos. (If you missed it, you can get the same effect by spending a week chanting, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done” – while facing no life-or-death issues – and obsessing about whether each person in your life is good or bad, sincere or manipulative, gay or straight.)
So, are gay men in America represented by Carson Kressley or leading man James? Barney Frank or Harvey Fierstein? RuPaul or Bishop Gene Robinson? As flavors of description (shmomosexual, metrosexual, post-gay, on the down-low) are added to the existing mix (lesbian, transgender, gay, bisexual, questioning), the hand-wringing by pundits often accelerates.
Language is coming full circle. No effort was required to sustain anti-gay sentiments, laws, and faith traditions when gay love dared not speak its name. As lesbian and gay people named their love and shunned shame by identifying themselves, their adversaries escalated their shaming, blaming, and name-calling. As glbt folks’ lives proved to be as simple, ordinary, and dull as their neighbors’ , the lives of ex-gays were touted as reason enough to continue demeaning and marginalizing gays. With the gelling of streetwise awareness that lesbians and gays defy stereotypes and the Supreme Court awareness of them as simply human, anti-gay leaders (after getting no traction from using ex-gays to lead offensive strikes) are marshalling their defensive forces in a last-ditch effort to horde one of their favorite words for themselves: Marriage.
From not naming ourselves out of fear, we’re on our way back to not naming ourselves for a profoundly different reason: Labeling itself is insufficient. Inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric is increasingly fanned, not by the naming of glbt folks, but by the assimilation of glbt stereotype-busting families into Americana’s melting pot – ordinary relationships and families that label themselves with the same words anti-gay families use to describe themselves.
I simply am. Homo-shmomo-metro-hetero-libero-orthodox-alterna-judeo-islamic-traditional-shmitional labels be damned.
I love another who simply is. We are present for each other in ordinary moments as well as crises, like any other committed couple. Each of us wants the other to thrive, like other engaged folks. Our hopes, dreams, frustrations, and failures – not to mention our financial well-being – are intertwined just like my grandparents’ were for 62 years.
The labels that mark the differences between types of people and relationships are losing their bite in the face of the universal ones: Love, commitment, relationship, marriage, and family. That trend will continue as diverse lives become familiar in the media, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, and in our faith communities.
It’s still essential to work for just, fair, compassionate treatment of all people. Some labeling is necessary and helpful in those efforts.
You just won’t find me wringing my hands over – or investing myself heavily in – new labels.